It was a cloudy day. There’d been too much to do, and I needed a quick spin to clear my head. I told the other chaps in the garage that I was going out for a bit. The sleepy old 800 popped open a headlight and raised his wiper blades in surprise. No good car went for a spin without his driver, you see. But I really wasn’t in the mood to listen to the old chap. I felt like a drive down the Sea Link. You know, get some heat in my 155/65 R13s and petrol flowing through me. I’d feel better. So I went.
And that’s where I saw her. Flaming orange and slung so low she practically kissed the ground. But I never trust what I see in my rear view mirror. Then she was next to me – all the fuel in me went south. I trusted that. Before I knew it, I was watching her little tail disappear into the distance. In a hazy orange flash, she was gone. Lamborghini SV. How would I ever keep up with a car like that?
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Suddenly the Sea Link didn’t seem like such a good idea. I turned left at the end of the bridge and headed home through the narrow lanes of the city, even though they’d booked me for a return. Refreshed or not, I didn’t feel like the hottest thing on the block anymore, just another little hatch. And that’s when I started thinking about who I actually was. Was kind of hard not to. There were so many of them staring at me. ‘Blasted K10’, one of them old Altos muttered under his wheezy 800cc breath. They didn’t like us young ‘uns too much; I guessed it was because we looked spiffier, ran quicker and had the new K10 engines. Instinctively my pedal sunk; three cylinders pumping furiously, I made my 67 bhp count – I left the old-timers in the dust.
I was going faster than was good for me perhaps, switching lanes quickly with small flicks to my steering wheel. That's all I needed to navigate the traffic - tiny little flicks and my body would slot into spaces very quickly. Chuckable is what they called it. Although some people did say my steering felt a little numb. Coursing through the traffic was quick though - my gears were short with little travel. Again, a boon in the traffic.
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Finally near home in the small little lanes I was so familiar with, I slowed down, mainly because the roads were potholed and that did tend to unsettle me a little, and partly to catch my breath. There was a much-celebrated little car parked near me; people were fussing over him. Sure, he was great in his own way. He wasn’t heavy on the pocket, and people could graduate from two-wheels to four with him. But the fawning he received was aggravating. No one fussed over us Altos like that. And we’d been doing the same thing for the last ten years, some continuously. Sure, we weren’t as striking looking, but we got the job done and rather well if you asked me. I couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to take off again. What can I say, I’m easily excited.
Well, I don’t know what it was. Maybe I was upset or angry, but I wasn’t looking where I was going. A pesky three-wheeler barrelled down the intersection towards me. I thought I could clear the gap and I kept on going. From the other side though, there was an aged Premier Padmini ferrying a family somewhere coming right in my path. I couldn’t afford to get scuff my new chrome grille. I got my front discs to do the stopping. No damage done. While the abuses were being exchanged, I noticed one thing. The people in the taxi were giving me the glad eye. You could tell that they wanted me. ‘New Alto’ the father told the son.
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And that’s when things made sense. This was why there were so many of us around. Old and now there’d be new, despite whatever other hatches came along to try and steal our mantle. We were wanted. People could rely on us. There really was a point to my existence after all. Especially now that I was better looking and met BS IV emission norms. I was the car people picked to learn driving in and I was the car they wanted in the garage to keep the other car company as well.
But there was a little test that I needed to carry out, even if it was just to massage my ego. I found an empty stretch of road and went for it. 0-60 kph in 6.41 seconds and I hit 100 kph in 15.04 seconds. It wasn’t bad even if I did say so myself. I must confess, there were some vibrations once I crossed the tonne - my front wheels and pedals would vibrate a little, and maybe my engine wasn't the quietest at that point. But when I wouldn’t let go the throttle, I hit a top speed of 146 kph.
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That done, I needed to get back to the garage, and before I burnt any more fuel. If I used up too much they might notice I’d been gone on my own. My overall sipping figures might sink from the 15.3 kpl I’d delivered so far, which really wouldn’t be a good thing. I rolled in, and parked next to the 800. He was done for the day, and didn’t move a panel as I settled into my spot. He really was a good one – he’d been around for fifteen years and still ran. And that’s the thought that comforted me the most – that I knew in 15 years I had a decent chance of still being around. I pulled the handbrake, slotted into neutral, and folded my mirrors in for the evening.