Bridin Kelly tells Wheels for Women about her tough little Toyota Starlet that is still going strong after 21 years.
Bridin Kelly wasn’t sure what to expect when she turned up recently at her local NCT centre with her 21 year old Toyota Starlet. The car had been off the road while she was abroad, and even though it had sailed through the NCT before, she was nervous that the run of good luck might be about to end.
The Starlet began its life in Ireland as a Japanese import and now has just over 121,000 miles on the clock. Bridin inherited the maroon 1.3 litre Starlet from her grandmother, who christened the car ‘Betsy’.
Once Bridin returned home to Ireland, it didn’t take much to get the car going again. “Even though it wasn’t driven for a year, it started first time after we charged the battery up,” she says.
Finding an insurance company to insure the Starlet had been difficult, but the NCT was the last hurdle before Betsy could get on the road again. Bridin set off without having the car checked over first by a mechanic. Despite a small bit of DIY on the way to the NCT centre, 21 year old Betsy passed the NCT again with flying colours. “When I was washing the car beforehand, I noticed a worn tyre valve, but I fixed that en route to the test, and Betsy came out with results well below the limits,” says Bridin.
With a NCT cert, tax and insurance, Betsy the Starlet is back on the road again.
Just like a lot of old cars, the Starlet has a few quirks and design flaws that keep Bridin amused while driving. There’s no rear windscreen wiper and the indicators switch off after the steering wheel is turned a quarter. Then there is the heater that prefers to heat feet instead of hands. One of Bridin’s favourite features is the tapedeck that turns tapes over automatically, no doubt one of the Starlet’s star features back in 1993!
What does she think is Betsy’s secret to a long life? Bridin puts Betsy’s resilience and good fortune down to low mileage and a little bit of spiritual intervention…
“I think my Grandma’s habit of only driving to town once or twice a week may have contributed to the car’s good condition,” says Bridin. “Or maybe it’s the holy medals and prayers she had stuck inside!”
23rd April, 2014