Commodores – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Commodores

Commodores

The only time I’ve been to Sunshine, I nearly bought a 1983 pea-green Commodore. I didn’t even have my license, which is actually probably the best time to buy a pea-green Commodore, before you know what driving a car is supposed to feel like. My boyfriend (later, my husband; still later, my ex-husband) wanted me to buy it, so we would be matching. He had a maroon-and-silver-two-tone Commodore with red velour seats and a red velour ceiling. One day I poked holes through it with the end of my cigarette. If anything, that made it more like the set of a porn film.

We drove out west in his Commodore, to a car yard with flags around the fence that thundered in the wind. The salesman was the way you would expect someone to be, if they were selling you a pea-green Commodore, with hair slicked back and six gold rings clanging together on his knuckles. He had plenty of cars on the lot: black ones and white ones and red ones; Holdens and Fords and Mitsubishis; sedans and coupes and 4WDs. A few cars over, an old man and his old wife opened and closed the doors of a silver Fairlane, and she said, ‘It’s like a limo!’

The pea-green Commodore was four thousand, he told me. Non-negotiable. Any fool would be lucky to have it, with its five-litre-V8-engine and its factory-standard-interior (mint velour with a mint velour ceiling, shuttered blinds on the back window). I could take it or leave it. I didn’t have four thousand. I didn’t have one thousand. But the boyfriend who became my husband and later my ex-husband wanted me to have it so badly that he was prepared to front up the money. ‘I can buy it for you,’ he said, within earshot of the slicked-back hair.

I sat on the mint velour and pushed my finger through the moth-holes in the ceiling. Four thousand dollars. The flags flapped and whipped. The man peered through the windscreen at me and his hair didn’t move but his face cracked into rows of teeth. Sharks have multiple rows of teeth, did you know? I wound down the window. My boyfriend-husband-ex-husband poked his head through.

‘Well?’ he said.

We drove back along the freeway, past other car yards that probably had blue Commodores and gold Commodores but not pea-green Commodores. At Todd Road we stopped for KFC and sat in the car park and talked to people who were on their way home from the airport, and I thought about all the places we could go with four thousand dollars.

5 Comments
  • John James

    January 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm Reply

    I’ve only ever owned one car – back in 1989/90 when I moved to Hobart for a Job – you just need a car in Hobart, or you have no life…

    I bought a white automatic Honda Civic station-wagon, purely because it was functional… I loved that car – it took me all over Tasmania, but I’ve never wanted one since… certainly not since I moved back to Sydney – that was my one love-affair with a car… I would be a total failure on Top Gear…

  • Kyle Cogan

    January 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm Reply

    This blog makes me smile as i love cars! The car you wanted to buy back then and the car you drive around these days are probably two different cars. The car you driv now is an SUV but it’s probably not Pea Green lol

  • kyle Cogan

    January 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm Reply

    My grandfather bought a 1978 XC ford falcon ute brand new. It’s been in the family for almost 37 years now and is now on club plates. My grandfather hardly used the ute when he had it but it’s only done 146000km since new and it’s all still original pretty much now that’s a car that’s hard to come by in this day and age but it’s hard to find a falcon ute such as that and in almost mint condition with low kilometres.

  • Alicia

    February 19, 2015 at 12:02 am Reply

    Pea green commodores – reminiscent of dreams rustling in the wind.

  • Luke

    July 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm Reply

    I appreciate that my comment is late but i just stumbled upon this post whilst looking at Australian blogs. Who cares about the commentators cars? Nobody. Anna your post was overwhelmingly sad. I appreciate the how of the purchase as you explained that, but the thing that has bothered me about used car sharks, useless commodores etc is why we use them, yes I have been there before saw what I was getting into and regretted it for eight years. So Why? After clearing the debt I sold the car, and used a bicycle for two years. Now I am slowly entering the car market and have decided i will only ever pay 10k max for a used car and nothing more and never buy a car first hand or from a dealer.

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