THE faithful old ute got down to two of the original five forward gears and I thought, time for a change of horse.
A gearbox was worth about $1800, according to the wreckers, and then there's fitting it, and you end up with an old ute worth about $1500. Bugger that. On to the internet for some late-night trolling.
It is kind of addictive. You pick stuff up and read between the lines.
Get a feel for what's reasonable, what's too dear and, for that matter, what's too cheap.
One advantage of getting geriatric is I don't mind the more modestly powered vehicle that fails to titillate your younger types.
I am the old bloke in the hat doing 85.
I tracked down a 20-year-old Nissan with a 2.7-litre diesel apparently a by-word for old-bloke-in-a-hat-power.
The attraction was this unfashionable old bus had done a mere 133,000 kays which is nothing for its age.
I went and did the homework on this particular model at a real car yard.
Poking around the utes, all about 10 times my budget, the bloke eventually came out to help.
Turned out he was originally a mechanic and was quite happy to be quizzed on the merits and otherwise of the internet-ute of my desires.
He even directed me to their trade-in yard to have a look at one.
I'd only seen photos up till now.
The model looks simple and plain and just that touch ugly which, as with a working-dog, is an important feature.
The over-blown curves and general boofiness of modern utes are a turn-off.
Having ticked all the boxes, I returned to the internet-auction, waited a minute before the expiry, and whacked on my bid.
Nobody else did and all that remained was to buzz off interstate and pick up this pig-in-a-poke or else have a barney with the bludger who'd so flagrantly misrepresented the bomb on the net.
As it happened there were a couple of disappointments but, in a way, they were expected. Fixable things.
They reckon cake-mix manufacturers found women liked to add their own egg to feel like proper cooks.
Well, I've added about half a dozen eggs to the ute so far and the diff could do with a couple of bananas to quieten it down but that can wait.
I like it. It's even starting to smell right.