Sunday, May 31, 2009

My First Car - Mazda 626 Hatch (1984)

Back in 1993, I didn't have enough money to buy a first hand car. Even though cars around that time were not that great, most of them cost lika an arm and a leg, e.g. Proton Wira 1.3L was going for RM45,000++.

The second hand car market wasn't any better. For example, the first generation Proton Saga was selling at about the same price it was sold for when it was launched nearly ten years earlier.

Of course, all this was before the East Asian economic crisis of 1997.

So, all that I could afford in 1993 was a reasonably maintained 8-year-old Mazda 626 Hatch 1.6L, like the one above, which I bought off my kind boss for RM21,000. I say 'kind' because he gave a RM2,000 discount.

RM7,000 more and I could have bought a Perodua Kancil, yes? Actually, no. It would be a good few years before the Kancil is launched.

Anyway, the Mazda 626 wasn't the best car I had driven. Having become used to my dad's old Mercedes 250 and my mom's Volvo 244, I found the Mazda lacking in many respects.

The engine sounded rough, the pick-up was sluggish, the brakes were faulty, the shock absorbers were worn out, the steering rack was fractured, the drive shaft was knocking, the stick shift felt like it was stuck in the mud, the clutch insisted on giving my left leg a good leg-press exercise each day.... Simply put, the Mazda 626 was as beat up as any reasonably maintained 8-year-old second hand car (third hand, if you consider the fact that my old boss bought the lemon from his friend but kept it pretty much under his garage for a year).

And I fell in love with it. So much so, I kept it for five years.

And in that time, I felt that the car could stand up to most other cars on the road in terms of looks and engine power. With a good shine, 'new' 2nd hand sport rims, window tints, engine metal treatment, my Mazda 626 was outrunning and outshining most cars on the road.

Unfortunately, when the car reached 13 years old, it pretty much wanted to retire. So, I traded it in for a Kembara - which I didn't keep very long.

Nonetheless, my love for Mazda cars had become entrenched. As a result, years later, I got my hands on what I think is another ageless beauty - the first generation Mazda 6 2.0L.

Snatch Thieves - I Pray for Their Destruction Each Day

Snatch thieves. These are people without consciences or whose consciences have been silenced by Allah.
They do not fear the consequences of their evil actions. They only covet illicit gains regardless of the pain and suffering they cause others.
As motorists, we all should be extra careful when we hear a motorcycle come up from behind, especially if there's a pillion rider on the motorcycle as well. From observation, it's the pillion rider who usually does the snatching.
If you're walking alone, always look over your shoulder when you hear a motorcycle drawing near. Be prepared to take evasive action.
Fight only as a last resort, because these criminals come prepared with knives and other weapons.
Some may even be so bold as to attack people in cars. Be sure to reinforce your car windows with security tints - Citibank is running a promotion for security tinting for Platinum card holders in cooperation with Cars International for only RM499.
Ultimately, the best defence is prayer to Allah. Each day, I pray for the destruction of snatch thieves.
I pray that they meet their end on the roads. I pray that they die of gunshot wounds.
I pray that they die fighting each other.
Alhamdulillah, many of my prayers have been answered, as can be seen in the many recent news reports of snatch thieves receiving their comeuppances. And I believe it's because Allah hastens the punishment for those who are evil to others.
So, let us all do what we need to, in defence against snatch thieves. And let us all pray, each day, for the destruction of snatch thieves.

Proton's Xchange Programme for Any Old Iron

The value of second hand cars have dropped considerably due to the global recession that continues to wash over Malaysia's economy. So, don't expect a high trade-in price for your old car, especially if it's an old and mouldy rust bucket that's about to suffer a complete breakdown.

Fortunately, Proton's Xchange programme ensures that regardless of the condition of your old car, you'd be able to trade it in for a minimum price of RM5,000, except for those that have been illegally tempered with.

"All car models are eligible under the programme. Nevertheless, these cars must first be tested and certified by Puspakom Sdn Bhd to ensure that they are not illegally tampered with," Proton said. (see

An obvious example of illegal tempering would be a chop-job or 'kereta potong' that's been poorly welded together.

Strangely enough, many of the cars that qualify for the RM5,000 Xchange programme would only be fit for the junkyard anyway. So, why be so particular?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

MechWarrior Web Novel Written by Yours Truly

As frequent readers of my blogs know, my Grinner's Cars Malaysia Blog is more than just a blog on cars. It has entries on politics, economics and social commentaries.
At the Yahoo! 360 site where Grinner's Cars Malaysia Blog used to be hosted, I also flashed something I hoped people would read - my webnovel called "Winds of Change" written several years ago. Based on the MechWarrior classic universe, I wrote it as a fan fiction because I couldn't get accreditation from its copyright holders and book publishers.
I also wrote it because I wasn't satisfied with the storylines that were being used towards the end of the franchise's lifespan.
Anyway, please have a read when you get the time. It was a one-man effort and, so, the editing was a little rough and ready.
Nonetheless, I've had favourable feedback (as well as constructive feedback) from readers who took the time to read all 13 chapters of my webnovel.
Click on the following link to check it out:

My Dad's First Car - Morris Minor 1950s

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to export my old blog entries at my Yahoo! 360 blogsite to So, I guess, I'll have to start over.

On the upside, this gives me a chance to revisit some of my early blog entries on Grinner's Cars Malaysia. I hope it'd be good reading for my blog followers, old and new.

Let's start with my dad's first car.

After my dad returned from Edinburgh University to Malaya back in the 1950s, he managed to save enough to buy a Morris Minor. I can't find the photo of him standing happily next to the black old thing, but the picture above is close enough.

I don't remember my dad's car looking so shiny, but I guess it was an effect of the old black and white photo.

One day, when I have more than enough money to fool around with on cars, I'll get an old Morris Minor and do some major restoration work.

See for what this guy did with his old Morris Minor - super cool!

Forced to Migrate from Yahoo! 360

Yahoo! 360 is shutting down on 13 July 2009. So, I'm forced to move to blogspot. I'm still feeling my way through and don't find the interface as easy as Yahoo! 360's.
Furthermore, I can't figure out how to import my old blogs postings from Yahoo! 360 to this new blogsite of mine. The function is there but it's taking, like, forever to process.
The upside to this new blogsite of mine is that the address is more easily remembered. Instead of some seemingly random numbers, followers of my blogs need only key in 'grinnerscarsmalaysiablog.blogspot' at the URL section of the browser and hit CTRL+ Enter, and my blogsite will appear.