20-year-old Vitara still going strong
In February 1996, Martin Rooney took delivery of a near-new Suzuki Vitara. It was red, it had just 9,000 km on the clock, and most importantly to him, it was a manual. “Manuals were fairly scarce at the time.” says Martin. “I was pretty happy when I found the Vitara.”
Nearly 20 years on, “The Old Girl’s” odometer has just ticked over to 275,000 km – and given the Vitara is the Rooney’s daily driver, it won’t be too long until the big 300 rolls by. Lorraine, Martin’s wife, drives the couple from their house in Oxford, North Canterbury to Christchurch City on a regular basis. Then Martin does most of the driving round town, and takes the reins for the home run. That’s a 120 km round trip. And it’s not all sealed road. The Rooneys live on a hill and have a steep shingle drive, so the Vitara’s 4WD gets a workout almost every day.
According to Martin, the Vitara’s still a pleasure to drive. Lorraine likes the extra height and they find it surprisingly economical
on the open road. This is from a guy who knows his way around cars. While some people can’t even remember where they left their vehicle in the supermarket car park, Martin remembers every detail. “The Vitara’s first change of tyres was at 93,000 km.” he says brightly. “And we went 104,000 km before we had to change them again.” We’re not sure whether we’re more impressed by the tyres’ longevity, or his amazing memory!
As well as the Vitara, Martin has five Model-A Fords and three Morris Minors. He bought the Morries in the 60’s and keeps them running himself – a fact he’s quite proud of “I keep the things I buy.” he says. And fair enough, the Vitara is still going strong. But with the launch of the new 2015 Vitara are the Rooneys tempted to upgrade? According to Martin he’s quite happy with their old Vitara. He’s a big fan of manual transmission (“Too right!”) and doesn’t like the idea of moving to an automatic. But when Martin heard the new Vitara is available in a 5-speed manual as well as a 6-stage auto, he sounded tempted.
If we can convince Martin and Lorraine to test-drive the new Vitara, we’ll let you know! But, by the sounds of it, the Rooney’s old Vitara will be making the Oxford-Christchurch run for a long time to come. It’s serviced by Hollands Suzuki in Christchurch. “They’ve always been good to us.” says Martin appreciatively. “We’ve got a wee poodle and we’re allowed to take her around in their loan vehicles when the Vitara’s in for a check-up.”
And Suzuki runs in the family it seems. The Rooney’s son, Ian, also has a Vitara. His is a 3-door and he’s just reconditioned the engine himself. Their daughter in Christchurch drives an Alto.