Retro Night Out in a HRV: The Honda Drive-In Movie Night

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I like Honda’s small SUV. It shares a platform with the Jazz, but the small crossover is slightly more practical with bags of extra room just perfect for a Drive-In.

We drove it last year. Read about it here

I said I’d only buy one if I could have an AWD model, but that is still true now I’ve rediscovered Drive-Ins?

The chance came to take an HRV for a weekend’s frivolities, and who was I to say no? Apart from ferrying a few of the chaps to very important shopping appointments, we went all retro and took the HRV to the movies, outdoors, 50’s style. Think Rat Pack, think Monte Carlo, think evening length gloves and martinis OK? Right, none of that applies to a Drive-In.

Drive-Ins are the last of the tattered remnants of kinder, gentler eras.

Always a beacon for families, Drive-Ins were also just the ticket for a first (and very hopeful of a happy ending) date.

Families now come in many forms and our little caravan of eager participants used a trio of 2016 chariots as our posh seats for the evening. A Mondeo Titanium collected the day SYNC III was released, a Mercedes Benz GLA 200 and finally, our Honda HRV VTI-L proved surprisingly comfortable. I know many of you would rather have your fingernails extracted from your cold dead bodies than visit a drive in but you’re really missing a treat. The others sat front on to the school holiday movie, but hubby and I chose to have the hatch open with the cargo hold filled with pillows and blankets.

Before we settled in, I braved the canteen, something I’ll never do again. The hot chips, Hot wedges, and a double serve of hot wings, were all colder than the regular Cokes by the time I made it back. School holidays was perhaps not the best time for us to have tried this experiment, “but I no complain,” as Con-the-fruiterer’s wife Marika used to say.

It’s been unusually cold and windy on the east coast these last few days, and although Sydney escaped rain for the time being, the weather was hardly conducive to cosy outdoor movie viewing.

By the time I got back with hunter-gather-style food and drink, the car audio system had shut off. This is common in new vehicles. Once upon a time you could turn the key to the “accessories” position and the radio would have stayed on for the duration. In the days of push-button entry and start, your key isn’t needed. Instead you press the On/Volume and you’ll get half an hour or so. The HRV has a virtual power on a glass screen, so you have to press the Start button making sure your foot isn’t on the brake. The Accessories are activated for about half an hour or so. It is a bit of an oversight not being able to lock the system on for special occasions. You’d think something as complex as a 21st century car would have that as part of the settings.

Setting the HRV up for outdoor cinema means lowering the back seat, pushing the front seats all the way forward, and folding the front seat-backs forward. This leaves a nice slope for pillows It also leaves the front cup holders within reach between the seat backs.

There we sat, snug as two bugs in a rug. The sound system had a surround effect, and as we watched Private Lives of Pets, we sipped our drinks and picked at the chips and chicken wings.

Next time we will take something to lay on as well. We didn’t take quite enough pillows to make the floor feel properly luxurious. There’s something slightly primeval about having bedding so close to open ground and I like it. I liked the fact that our cocoon, completely open at one end, caught an occasional gust. We could hear the sound track from other cars nearby and although contained, we felt connected to our fellow drive-inners.

I was relieved to have been able to use the inbuilt sound system instead of the crackling old hook-on speakers from years of old, but the food hadn’t improved since then. Next time I’ll do a picnic.

You know, the auto industry expends a lot of time and money finding out how what people want. They spend even more time and money telling people how they can use their cars. Someone went to all the trouble of making super comfy seats just so someone can sit on the floor in the back with the tailgate up. But that’s life.

Some owners love their cars while others treat them like rubbish tips, but all will find their own ways of making their cars their very own. In many ways a vehicle is an extension of a personality, and taking your hunny to a movie like a couple of teenagers is fun.

The HRV was perfect. The evening was perfect. The movie was much more fun than if we had stayed home and downloaded it.

There are few Drive Ins left, and you have to drive a long way to find them. The Skyline at Blacktown opened in 1964 and is still going strong. They show two movies at a time with a screen at either end, and the place was completely full thanks to school holidays. There were long lines to get in and out but no one seemed to mind. If you prefer you can sit in deck chairs near the 60’s inspired café.

Food is fairly expensive. 2 cokes, small chips, small wedges and 2 X 6 chicken wings was $47. I could do 2 litres of coke and a 2 kilo serve of wings, hot or cold, for ten bucks. What’s more I wouldn’t have had to line up for half an hour for it.

Helpful hints:

BYO food and drink, and if you want to stretch out in the back, take a doona with your pillows and blanky. If it’s a balmy night, take a couple of director’s chairs and a table. I might have found a new calling.

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