In ’91, I bought a ’89 Cutlass Supreme. It had only 17,000 miles on it and was in great condition. The driver’s side window was off a little, but with practice I was able to trick it into place. My commute was only two miles.
Six months in, the dashboard began peeling up at the vent by the windshield. I wedged it back into place and the power antennae broke. I bought a house. The commute went up to four miles.
A year later, the front center of the dash started peeling up and the muffler fell off. New muffler, minor repairs, dash kept peeling up (common problem with this model), and time passes. I get married. We buy a new house. The commute moves up to twelve miles.
I have a kid. Cassette deck dies. I open Clarkesworld. A piece that keeps scraping on the driveway cracks and breaks off. I lose a job and several people I thought to be friends. Have another kid. The driver’s side window falls into the door. Window pulled out and stuck in the up position. I don’t care, I still have one more window. Get a new job. Commute 15 miles.
Rear suspension goes. Parking break release snaps off. As I drive, you can hear the clank-clunk of the suspension and the squeak of the wheels. The parking break indicator light on the dashboard decides shine constantly, unless I smack it. Breaks totally gone and replaced. Yet another muffler falls off and the new one is installed incorrectly, melting the fiberglass below the bumper. Paint starts to peel up in the back. Quit old job and take one 50 miles away.
Mileage starts creeping up and passes 100,000. In the Summer heat, the fabric on the ceiling lets go and falls on my head. The engine begins making almost musical noises to the beat of the clank-clack of the suspension. It gets me to and from work comfortably, but people are now concerned about me driving this car. My mechanic is amused, but he rarely sees it. The engine temperature light joins the parking break indicator in eternal brightness and I’m forced to keep oil and coolant in the back seat. My wife decides it’s time to put my trusted friend out to pasture.
…but it has comfy seats and I don’t want it to go.
She wins. The dealer wouldn’t give us $100 for my car, so it’s going to some very lucky charity for parts or fix up. We ended up with a Montana (van with comfy seats) which will come in handy for trips to cons and when the kids are a little bigger. We managed to get a good deal (our price, not theirs) but it still did a lot of damage to the bank account.
Can anyone say bookstore sale? Yeah, it’s inevitable. Just have to work out the details… after I take my old car out for one more fairwell tour/adventure. I wonder what will fall off this time.