|In July 2003, newly returned to Sydney from five years living in Seattle, I was looking for a car that could handle two big malamutes – Bondi and his younger brother Dougal, at that time undergoing quarantine together. |
I didn’t want to buy a big 4WD, and was looking for a respectable hatchback or wagon that allowed the two dogs to stand up. Most vehicles, even with seats lowered, were simply not tall enough inside, or worse, were covered with felt-like interior cloth that would have turned the vehicle into a velcro-lined hair bag.
Then I encountered the Renault Scenic, which was not only roomy, but the rear seats were individually removable, and allowed both dogs to comfortably stand, turn and lie down. Snapped off the Rick Damelian showroom on Parramatta Road, it first saw active duty collecting Bondi and Dougal from the quarantine station. I’d taken out the back seats and bought a large square of rubber sheeting to lay out across the back. That rubber sheet saw ten years’ duty – transferred to the Zafira for our three years in France.
Fast-forward a couple of years: the car has taken us to Adelaide and back, on a five week tour of Tasmania, seen us around for a month in Melbourne. In May 2005 it’s shipped to the UK ahead of Bondi and me, and we collect it from Ipswich in mid July. For the next two and a half years, it sees us around Europe through dozens of countries, ferried back and forth across the Irish, Mediterranean, Baltic and Norwegian seas. We circumnavigated Ireland, visited the Lofotens, Orkneys and Sicily, crossed fjords, drove up mounts Vesuvius and Etna, reached the northernmost point of Europe and so much more. In the UK alone, it saw an astounding mix of terrain between Land’s End and John o’ Groats.
During the time away it suffered two memorable insults – a farmer in Devon deformed the rear hatch, trying to move it out of his driveway with his tractor, and it had tyres slashed while in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
In January 2008 it returned to Australia, full of my European baggage and souvenirs, ready to chauffeur Bondi through the final years of his life and Munson through the first of his. A series of transmission problems in 2010, too expensive to rectify saw it consigned to a corner of the garage of my friends Richard and Corinne, while Munson and I headed to France.
Richard was the best person to look after the car – as you can see from the bang-up job he did with my Pulsar fifteen years ago. (Thank you also Adrian for conspiring in this little matter.)
This week it was time to clear room in that garage, and so with a heavy heart, our brave little Scenic was collected for the scrap yard. It was a very wet morning when it was hauled onto a flat-bed truck, and signed over to its second ever owner. A few minutes later on Windsor Road, I saw it ahead of me in traffic for a few seconds, and then the truck turned into a side-street and it was gone.
The main memories I will take away are from the wheel, Bondi leaning over my shoulder, new sights and smells ahead.