We found an amazing deal with Ace Rental Cars through the online rental car broker Car Del Mar for a whooping price of $24 US a day. This amazing deal gave us a Category A (CCAR) Supersaver 1999-2003 185,000kms+ car. These are supposedly a Toyota Corolla Hatch or similar, but in the car hire world every car is a similar to a Toyota Corolla. The all caps “ATTENTION” should frighten most people but we ignored the warning attached to it that the “vehicle may be of considerable age!”. The exclamation mark was even in the contract.
We were hired out a Nissan Sylphy Bluebird sedan that started the journey at 213,000 km. When were handed the keys one was broken in half. Apparently it had been lodged in either the trunk or the passenger door. Neither of which would permit a key to be inserted.
From the outside it had plenty of rock chips on the hood, a cracked taillight and a bumper that was nearly falling off. The tires routinely lost air and needed topping off. The trunk also leaked when it rained and soaked our packs.
Inside it had an amazing stale cigarette odor that they tried hard to wash out. The stereo was after market and had an aux jack which made the trip great if you were sitting in the passenger seat where the only speaker worked. The mirrors had hi-tech folding capabilities which helped them from being knocked off when parked on the small city streets that don’t exist in New Zealand. Instead it made them wobble when we occasionally hit 95 km/h on the windy NZ roads. Lacking cruise control meant the driver was constantly going to fast or to slow.
Apparently these models of Nissans suffer a common problem a mechanic referred to as a flooded engine. Where the only way to start the car was by pumping the gas and holding down the ignition for 30 seconds. We had to hire a mechanic to come out to the boondocks of Franz Josef to teach us how this worked. This was an extra charge because of the remote location. Apparently being ten minutes from the nearest AA mechanic demands an extra $50.
Once the car was started Mike attempted to bribe him to disable the annoying backup alarm that went on when you reversed. The mechanic staunch refused.
“Ace” only had to be jump started one time. After our drive though the huge dark one lane Milford Sound tunnel we learned that the car has no notification that the lights are on when you stop the car. We were nearly stranded in the Milf, but $20 buys you a jump from the cafe that also owns the only gas station.
In all we put 7,592 km (4717 miles) on this Category A (CCAR) Supersaver Ace Rental Car. That is just shy of making a trip from New York to Los Angeles and back.