Life in the fast lane.
This re-discovery of what every 16-year-old boy knows started when Deb’s aging and ill-maintained (we’re poor remember?) Honda CRV blew an engine. With close to 300 thousand miles on it, a transmission that was skipping, and a host of other problems the theoretical math was clear: if we had the money it made more sense to start over than to pour more into this particular black hole.
Also, you can sometimes borrow money to buy a car. You can’t borrow money to fix one.
The big surprise was that it was Deb’s car that bit the big one. We’d both figured it would be my hail-survivor over-driven Accord which is both more heavily driven and more maintenance abused. I had a long “discussion” with a better paid colleague about the importance of major tune ups and changing timing belts and the like. She just didn’t get it. Yeah, I know all of that. But I need to keep the electricity on. There isn’t money for both.
My Mom cut short her birding trip (thank God for cell phones, right?) and came to our short term rescue transportation wise. Between Rio’s school being north and west of our house about 25 miles and my work being north and east of our house about 75 miles; being a one car family was impossible.
We checked online to get a feel of what was out there, discussed needs, evaluated our possibilities of getting credit in this world, and planned a trip to the only used car dealer I trust. Where upon Mom announced she really hated her one-year-old ’08 Honda CRV. It does have a significant blind spot. And this particular car also seems to be hexed, as no end of near and not-so-near “incidents” have plagued it. With Deb’s car dead, mine on life support, and Mom convinced hers was a death trap; I was given a charter: see what kind of deal you can get the family on three cars with two trade ins.
Our life-long sales guy had retired but we choose a new one (after asking if they had female sales staff, which they didn’t) and after being assured he was a patient man we laid out the whole complicated story. We’re here for anywhere between 0 and 3 cars with anywhere between 0 and 2 trade ins. We have no fucking idea what we need. I hope you got a lot of time on your hands today.
The sales guy, Rob, was great. We started with a quick council of war. Deb needed high ground clearance for our “drive way,” a twisting, rutted dirt-rock wagon trail with slopes up to 55 degrees in some places. She also demanded four doors, AC, and a clicker to auto lock the car when she arrived with arms full of child etc at school. Mom need something high off the ground that she can get in and out of with arthritic knees. She also needed cruise control, CD and AC. I needed good gas mileage, AC, a CD, and would love a moon roof to pull commuting pipe smoke out of the cabin. Rio needed a PT Cruiser. Period.
Thus, with charter in hand, we set off into the lot to see what we could see. To keep the little one happy we decided to test drive a PT Cruiser, with no real thought that it was appropriate for any one of us. The one on the lot was metallic aqua green. Not ugly exactly, perhaps more shocking. But as soon as I sat in the driver’s seat I fell in love. The interior is post-modern sci-fi; how we all thought the future would look back in 1952. It’s high tech art-deco. The details are amazing and creative. The dash board rises up to a wicked air-plane-like wind shield. The doors wrap around you, you feel like you are in a protected metal cocoon. The driver’s seat was as comfortable as my desk chair. There was room for my long legs and my big head and yet I could still reach the steering wheel. More than reach. It was right where it ought to be. Someone designed this car for my size and shape. Let’s drive.
For three years my commuting buddy E has been telling me how much she loves Turbo Volvos. Turbo this, turbo that, turbo the other thing. Yawn. Bear in mind we live at a mile above sea level and work at close to 8,000 feet above sea level. As it turns out, this little PT had a turbo. As we approached the freeway the sales man said, “Go ahead, punch it.”
I gently pressed the pedal to the floor and with a musical snarl the mean little green machine surged forward. Like in a carnival ride the force of the acceleration pushed us back in our seats. Simultaneously Rio and I let out a whoop of sheer joy. Power rocks. It’s a guy thing.
I drove some other stuff that afternoon, including cars with better gas mileage. But….
“You drive a lot,” said my Mom, “life’s too short not to enjoy it. But for God’s sake, use the cruise control, I don’t want you getting tickets with that turbo.”
So a joy to sit in. A joy to drive. Debbie studied me for a long time, raised one eye brow and said, “Well I never thought I say this, but that car looks good on you.”
Oh, and it has a moon roof.
Both Mom and Deb ended up with Subaru Foresters. Deb’s is a gorgeous gun-metal grey. Yeah. Turbo.
Mom initially chose a sparkly tan one with no turbo. But, well, it did seem pretty gutless after the other two and she ended up some a limited edition burgundy Forester of questionable lineage. Clearly this car is the bastard child of a Lamborghini. I’m sure you can’t picture a Subaru sports car, but that is what my 83-year-old Mother is terrorizing the country side with.
Having bought three cars we were treated….very well….at the dealer ship, as you can imagine. The guy in charge of detailing the cars and tanking them up before they left the lot came in to the finance office where we were finishing up the paper work. He handed me the keys. “Here’s for the PT Cruiser. I’ll have the other two out shortly. Thanks a lot for your businesses… oh, and I’m available for adoption.”