Cheap Cheerful Car Trouble

Well, not exactly cheap.

This week both of our cars went on life support. I grieved — we haven’t had a car note to pay for five years and it’s been wonderful. Both vehicles are nine years old, and nine years ago we were kids. Our daughter lived in Chicago, not LA. I had a job and health insurance and better teeth. Lou’s hair was dark brown, not gray. My mother was alive. Dear friends hadn’t scattered to DC or Colorado.

Our mechanic Jim gave us the bad news.

The Focus needs about 1200 bucks of work. New front brakes, new pads and new coils. I have no idea what coils do, but they’re expensive. I remember my honeymoon period with the Focus — it was my first car with air conditioning and a CD player. That first winter I was a trainer at Sprint,working the night shift and I’d drive it home in soft silent snowstorms. It was my warm pod, and I had one of the most beautiful (I won’t call it spiritual)few minutes of my life, waiting at a deserted spotlight as the snow fell and Vladimir Horowitz poured Chopin’s Ballade Number 3 from the radio.

The Tiburon appeared in my driveway. Lou was fed up with the Escort and unbeknownst to me, traded it in and brought the Hyundai home. There’s a great photo somewhere of him posing with it, the beautiful bikini-clad Simpson girl next door and her zaftig scantily-clad bffs  draped over the chassis. Good times.

The Tiburon, (that sleek grey sportscar with the sunroof and everything)had become an exercise machine — the power steering was kaput, the thingy had rusted through, the model isn’t around anymore and neither is the part.

And all those road trips in those cars, years and years and years of heading across Michigan and along the 401 to Ottawa and my family. To my mother’s Christmases (Martha would be humbled) The summer trips to admire my father’s garden. The trip to Collinsville to walk the still freaky  Cahokia Mounds. And all those trips to work.

Thing is, I don’t care about cars. If it has A/C and a CD player I’m down. Before I met him Lou cared about cars in the most misguided way: sixties MGs and Triumphs and Spyders. Poverty and adulthood changed things for him. And me. We just wanted a car we could afford. All those Mitsubishis and Escorts … When the hottest car we’ve ever owned was the Tiburon, you get the idea. Our first marital vehicle was a 79 Ford Fiesta, and we loved that little  red car with absolutely nuthin’. Stick, no radio, no A/C . Nuthin.

So, we have a long drive to the UP in a couple of days and zilch vehicles. I’d done due diligence on Enterprise’s site. But yesterday, in a prairie thunderstorm Lou got us onto (in the Tiburon)the dealer strip on Ogden Avenue in Naperville. And he bought a car. And it wasn’t that expensive. It is, of course the cheapest car Toyota has on offer — yuck, I’d never even heard of the the Yaris.Yaris? What kind of name is that?

It’s cute.

But I love that we’ll have a new car for this trip, the first of many. I hope we’ll be able to hang onto this car for nine years. We traded in the Tiburon and we’re fixing the Focus . I’m someone who passed her first driver’s test at 35 and is a bad driver, but I love the memory of the silence, the snow, and the Chopin. And being nine years younger.





Filed under Machines, On the Street Where I Live, Worth it anyway

5 responses to “Cheap Cheerful Car Trouble

  1. Lloyd

    Wow! A new car – glad I got to ride in both relics before they were jettisoned to the junkyard!

  2. You can still cruise in the Focus with me Lloyd. When Jim has it fixed.

  3. Kim Shook

    I feel your pain, Maggie. We are not car people either – we’d rather spend our money on our home, travel, food, etc. In fact, I’ve told Mike that if I can quit work, I’ll make do without a car. We’ve been without car payments for a year or so and it was heavenly. But my Taurus battleship just died and we bought a new Hyundai Elantra. Very frugal and Consumer’s Reports approved. But now we have a car payment . Lou’s new one is a cute car, though, and in spite of all the recent stuff, I love Toyotas.

  4. mic

    brakes are expensive, but not as expensive as a new car, and not a sign that the end is near for a car. The Focus should be good for years to come.

    I hope the Yaris is as fun as it looks!

  5. Gretchen

    the Yaris is a great car. I am sure you will love it. AND I have never known a Toyota to age before 10 years passed.

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