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Sunday, 10 February 2013

So My Childhood Family Wagon Has Been Scrapped

Nissan Serena (not ours. This is a JDM version, yo. It's got a spoiler and curtains, but ours had an extra door)
On Jalopnik's off-topic forum, one commenter posed the question, "What car did you hate as a child?". Immediately, the answer popped into my head, except that, in retrospect, I don't hate it anymore. I started to wonder if it was still out there somewhere, so I did that text evaluation thing and, as it turns out, it was scrapped nearly 3 years ago, so I've extended my answer into a eulogy of sorts.

When I were a lad with a new sister to complement my two brothers - actually, not much complementing goes on, to be honest - my parents had to get an MPV on what must've been a shoestring budget, because they ended up going with one of these: A Nissan Serena 2.3 d LX.

In many ways it was almost comically shit. Not only does it look horrid, but it was actually a van, complete with van tyres and a gutless non-turbo van diesel engine. All they basically added was side glass and more seats, along with an embarrassing paint colour that's probably called Failed Attempt At Purple. But not on the grey bumpers. There was no air con at all, so on a hot day you were "welcomed" by this horrendous heat haze when you opened the loud, clattering doors. We then had to sit on boiling hot and rather uncomfortable grey-fabric-on-elephant-arse-vinyl seats and put up with all-manual windows that only rolled halfway down at the back for no apparent reason.

But still, all the better to hear that loud, clattering diesel van engine! I mean seriously, you'd think with 2300cc and diesel torque it would be able to get out of its own way, but the official 0-60 time was... are you ready for this?... 27.5 seconds. I'm pretty sure if you pushed a dead orangutan down a hill it would reach 60mph faster than that. Speaking of hills, it was also worse at going up them than I am, and it would probably be a close sprint race between me and it. We actually had to egg it on, and I like to think it would've ground to a halt one time if we hadn't. The top speed was about 85mph (probably 84mph just to be extra disappointing), making motorway journeys so noisy you could barely hear the weedy, fuzzy radio or the CDs you can't listen to anyway because there's only a cassette player. You could argue that any car is slower with six people and some bags on board, but what the hell kind of people carrier isn't designed to put up with carrying people?!

You know what though? It had eight seats (well, six proper ones and a little central pew in each bench), all of which could be folded to make it into the van it not-so-secretly is, with the back ones folding down and then up next to the side windows to give a low floor, and the middle ones rolling up against the front seats. It was a cave in there. It also started up first time without protest every single day of its long, long life, and the reason it couldn't go up hills very well is probably because all its torque was at the bottom of the rev range - although there was no rev counter so it's hard to say - because my parents could pull out of junctions in 2nd or even 3rd gear, they said. Its crapness blended with its honesty and dependability to give it an endearing place in your heart after all. Of course, this was only something that dawned on me when we were getting rid of it after it had vomited brake fluid everywhere on a long motorway journey and had to be stranded in Potter's Bar so we could complete our journey to a wedding or whatever it was.

Not long after that, we came to the decision that it was on its last legs and we should let it go. We got £300 part-ex for a 2007 Ford Galaxy 1.8 TDCi, which is MUCH better. Its only real flaw is the lack of bottom-end torque compared to the Serena and the very sudden turbo. I think they compensated for the fact that the engine came from a Fiesta by turning the little turbo up to 11. At least it's got one though, along with glorious A/C, a CD player and an Aux socket for 21st century music. It's also a much quieter car.

Still, while I don't miss sitting in it, I'll always remember that wonderfully awful Nissan Serena. Farewell N83 EFA! You're finally over the steep hill of family service.

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