Kermit Saved My Life

My first car looked just like this one. The same make, model and colour. Although I had leather seats and not those cool tartan ones.

A welch plug blew after about 4 weeks, which meant an expensive repair job for a 20c part. The passenger side door frame leaked so that when it rained you would get soaked (we kept a towel in the car for this reason). About 200m away from my house in the morning the car would try to stall, but some tricky clutch work would stop it from happening. After a while this became second nature.

I learnt a lot about cars from little Kermit. One of my big tips was that when it’s over 35C outside and you know you’ve got a full tank of petrol but she’s behaving like she’s run out… that’s a sticking carburettor seat. Pull over, let her cool down a bit, unstick the stupid flappy bit on the carby and you can be on your way. I helped two other stranded motorists with that particular trick – they must have thought I was some kind of car genius.

Stalling was this little car’s big trick. She would stop at lights regularly, I remember pushing her through the drive thru at McDonald’s in pouring rain. I got so adept at manoeuvring her from outside that I once parallel parked her while pushing her!

Generally, however, once she got going she would go quite well with the occasional stall at lights.


So, one night I was headed out down to Banksia Street. I took Bell Street which most Melbournians will know is rather steep as it joins and becomes Banksia Street near the Mercy Hospital. This was my view – the yellow arrows are pointing to a “prepare to Stop” sign and the actual traffic lights that the sign refers to. You can see that it’s quite a way away. That slope is steep!

I apply the brakes and gear down and just as I pass into the intersection the engine cuts out! I’m stopped, quite bizarrely in the middle of a crossroads late at night and in petulant denial of all those pesky laws of physics and principles of momentum and such stuff.


This is where I was, same spot as the car with the green arrow – only imagine it deserted and dark.

As I turn the key, all the while muttering obscenities under my breath a clapped out old ute with no lights on suddenly whizzed past from right to left, going the wrong way across me. Once it had passed, Kermit started as though nothing had happened and we were on our way.

If she had not stalled just at that moment I would have been hit by that speeding and probably drunk/stolen ute. As the realisation hit I found myself pulled over and shaking.

Has an inanimate object ever behaved mysteriously for you? Have you had a near miss? What was your first car?