Thanks to all of you for being such an amazing community. ❤️
About two weeks ago, I had one of the worse days of this year. My wallet’s not the largest at the end of the year and obviously, Murphy’s law must’ve felt that. As I was leaving The Hague to go home, at the big A12/A4 flyover (Prins Claus-plein), my catalytic converter decided to fail spectacularly, breaking into literally two parts. This caused a phenomenal noise that I would definitely not be able to drive home with.
I stopped at an industrial park nearby (which was the first place I could reasonably stop safely at), and considered my options. I called around but no one was really able to come and pick me up at that time, so I had to resolve to “McGyver-solutions”. I walked around the industrial park and collected some beverage cans, two large hose clamps and some basic handtools, and made the exhaust, ehh, somewhat acceptable to drive with at 80km/h.
Heading home again, something strange happened; my radio died for a second and started rebooting, and an ABS light came on. I stopped at a roadside gas station nearby Amsterdam (Den Ruygen Hoek), where I decided to check how my botch fix was doing and whether exhaust gases weren’t toasting my gas tank for all obvious hazardous reasons. It was doing alright and nothing really heated up underneath. As I wanted to continue my ride home, I tried to start the engine and… nothing. It cranked over but it was as if the battery was very undercharged. My car had been acting strange already for the last 18000 kilometers, showing the red battery charge light occasionally and randomly, but it hadn’t failed me yet. I had a revision set lying around already, but I hadn’t had the time yet to install it. But it seems this time, my car wanted me to know that it really wanted the attention it thought it deserved.
As I had no other options, I parked the car properly, locked it, checked if the battery wasn’t acting strange (like heating up excessively because of the discharge), and took a bus home. I managed to borrow a hauling van the same evening and went to pick it up.
As I was loading up, one man in particular was watching me work for a long time. At first I thought it was a bit strange and as I didn’t know this van and it lacked some of the essentials to properly load a vehicle (the electric winch didn’t work, it didn’t have a short noose to put through the towing eye, and some other things), but after a while, as I was securing the car he approached me and told me that he’s been looking at the car for a while now and that he was amazed by how good that color looked on this car, and he appreciated the amount of work I put into it and that the picture as a whole is just right. He loved the nod I gave to the ND with my car. Which for me, my philosophy of this project being to bring back the NA into the 21st century (the concept of “what would Mazda do with the NA today if they had the body, but could change everything else?), was a an amazing compliment to get and a firm confirmation that I did a good job achieving exactly that what I had pursued.
He was very kind and showed me his car that was parked down the lot (which was a SRM ND, of course) and allowed me to look around it too. We talked for a bit, after which I finished up loading the car, told him that “of course you’re allowed to take pictures”, and he had to leave and so did I.
Even though that day sucked, that conversation, those nice words from a stranger that appreciated my work, brightened up my day by a lot. I was not so stressed anymore driving back home, just… happy. Happy with the now acquired knowledge of people really appreciating my work and newfound energy to get to work right away, to get this thing back on the road again. I temporarily fixed my catalytic converter that same evening and revised my alternator the day after.
Last sunday my car broke yet again, the alternator rebuild hadn’t done the part any good and I think the regulator is just toast, which is the one part I couldn’t be bothered with replacing. That time, I called my SO’s father who I had an appointment with and he came to pick me up.
But again, this amazing community helped me out. Two guys who dropped off a car earlier that evening were driving home with a car trailer right past where my car had died. They took the first exit off the highway again and drove back, just to check on me and see if they could help me out. They loaded my car onto their trailer and drove it home. They said they loved Japanese cars and saw my car sitting on the side of the road and figured, as they were not in a hurry, they’d check on me and see if they could help out somehow. They said, as we unloaded the car at my place, that I “have the cleanest NA they’ve ever seen”, and that they were surprised with the way it looks as that color is not often seen on an NA.
I have little to be dejected about. In the end, I’m also in the privileged position in which I have access to a hauling van and a garage to work in on my car, plus the know-how to do most of the things myself. To me, these things breaking down is still expensive and inconvenient, but it’s not the end of the world. But what made me write this post, is that whatever stress I experienced due to these circumstances, was largely mitigated by how amazing, kind, and helpful this community is. It truly staggers me that in this individualized world, and full of evils like mandated E10 gasoline, there is this community feeling among car enthousiasts that is so warm, welcoming and compassionate. I have been on the receiving end this time and I will readily pay it forward if the opportunity shows. Thanks to all of you for being out there! ❤️