After deciding to 'drop' Bus No. 81 as my daily ride to the university campus, I went scouting around looking for a second-hand car which suits my, err, budget - if that's what you could call it.
My monthly government scholarship allowance was not that much. I cannot remember exactly how much it was now. What I do know is that it was way, way lower than those received by our Brunei (and even Jordanian) fellow students.
Luckily, I was quite good at saving up.
So, armed with a few hundred quids in my pocket, and with the help of a few 'seniors', I went to view a car 'advertised' by word of mouth among students.
As soon as I set my eyes on her, I was simply bowled over. For there she stood by the road side, smiling and cheekily enticing me to step up and take a closer look at her.
She was definitely one of my taste. Yes, certainly in terms of looks, style, and personality. But most of all (I suspect you've guessed this by now) she was just the right type for my wallet. I decided there and then that she would be mine.
She was a British-built Ford Escort Mark1. Built in the early years of 1970s, my Escort was the two-door saloon version - very sporty indeed. She came in a yellow body paintwork, and with a matt black roof top. Her plate number was: VVS 766L. But I called 'Shirley', after the name of the street we were staying.
The Ford Escort MK1 was truly a continental car. It was designed and built in Europe, and for the European market. Although its popularity meant that it did make it to the shores of Asian countries, the Americans never had this type of Ford back home in the US. But in Europe, it was a popular car with the public, and even more so within the motor sports communities.
And, oh how I enjoyed being with my Escort.
During university breaks, I would take her on inter-city trips as we attended students' conferences as far south as Birmingham. During other times we would find ourselves hitting the highway (or the motorway, as they would call it in the UK) to attend my friends' weddings or just dropping by for a visit, as far north as Newcastle in north east England.
Otherwise, it would just be the daily ritual for us - the return trips from my house in Cheetham Hill to the University of Manchester. At the campus I would usually park her at a spacious open air car park close by to the Planning and Architecture Building.
All those while, my Shirley never once complained - let alone protested - about my requests for farther and much more frequent trips. And that, despite she being more than twenty years of age.
She did have a slight 'cough' once (battery failure) resulting in an engine shut-down. It happened at a traffic light in down-town Birmingham city. It was winter, the roads were covered in snow, and it was well past 10.00 o'clock at night. The workshops had all closed.
A recipe for disaster? That was what I thought.
But my Escort was one cool lady - never one to panic easily. After a short work on a push-start, we were happily on our way again. You could almost hear her humming softly to herself.
I was with my Escort for three years. When I completed my studies and had to return to Malaysia, it was one long farewell. And an emotional one indeed.
I advertised for her sale in a local motor advertising magazine. After two weeks, and following a number of enquiries, I found one suitable suitor for my Shirley.
So I drove her ever so slowly to meet this potential buyer, mindful of the fact that this could be our last time together. The suitor was from Whalley Range, in the south of Manchester. One quick look and he was smitten.
And so it was with a heavy heart that I handed over the keys of my Ford Escort to the English gentleman.
As I was leaving, I took one final glance at Shirley and bade her farewell. She was my first own ride. My good and faithful escort.
Next up: Italian muscles