Dick Turpin

Dick Turpin is Newton Pulsifer‘s car, named after the 17th century British highwayman. Newt named the car in the vain hope that someone, some day, will ask him why. When Anathema eventually does, Newt mumbles that the car is named “because everywhere I go, I hold up traffic” (338).

The car is a Japanese Wasabi model (179), which was constructed on that fateful day when the Japanese switched from becoming “fiendish automaton who copied everything from the West to becoming skilled and cunning engineers who would leave the West standing”. The design may, thus, best be described as innovative. Examples include the safety balloons which “inflate on dangerous occasions such as when you’re doing 45mph on a straight dry road but were about to crash because a huge safety balloon had obscured the view”, a Korean-made radio which picks up nothing but Radio Pyongyang (which it does extremely well), and a simulated electronic voice which warns “Prease to frasten sleat-bert” (188) and issues “oil pressure arert[s]” (294).

Advantages of the car include the 823cc engine and a three-speed gearbox (179), as well as a remarkably resilient exterior; no external damage can be spotted by the casual observer, on account of the car already looking wretched.

The car apparently has an “incredible m.p.g.” though one reason for this is that it spent “a lot of time waiting in garages while things […] were in the post from the only surviving Wasabi agent in Nigirizushi, Japan” (180). It must thus be inferred that m.p.g. stands for minutes per gallon. Nigirizushi is also the name for the most typical form of sushi at restaurants, and Wasabi is a Japanese form of horseradish found in sushi.

Dick Turpin received a considerable improvement by Adam in the conclusion of the novel; after the Armageddon, the car does “250 miles on a gallon of petrol” (351), runs so quietly that exhaust is the only way to detect the works of the engine, and issues voice-synthesized warnings in haiku:

Late frost burns the bloom
Would a fool not let the belt
Restrain the body?

Edition referenced in this article: US Ace paperback (1990)
Written by Håkon