Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wheels, Deals and Steals

After doing the post below, those squeaky wheels in my mind began turning as I was thinking about and remembering cars I've owned over the years, and how I came about getting them. Also, how much I may have liked or disliked various buggies I've called my own too.

The first car that comes to my mind though was not one that I owned but rather was the car my Mom had when I was a baby -a 1940 Ford -that had been my Dad's car. He had bought it new and I remember in 1952, when my Mom traded it in and bought a used, 1948 Plymouth Coupe, I was highly -and I DO MEAN HIGHLY -ticked at her for trading it. For openers, I had a fixation at that time for Fords, since my uncle had a Ford and swore by them, as well as the fact that I had wanted Mom to keep that old Black 1940 Ford simply because it had been my Dads. He had picked it out. He had also of course, driven it and because I'd never known him (he died when I was a baby), it was the only tangible thing of his, in my mind, in my life then. The fact that I simply did not like Plymouths because my uncle's ideas and attitudes had permeated my mind that about certain make and manufacturers held sway too in my opinion there.

Mom ran that Plymouth until 1957 when her one brother had just purchased a new Chrysler and he knew the old Plymouth was giving Mom a lot of problems, so he offered to sell her his 1952 Pontiac, two-toned green, hardtop. She knew the car was in great shape, knew she couldn't get a deal like the one my uncle offered her either so she bought that car from him. The purchase price I still remember too. He charged her $450 for that car. Mom had that car until 1967 when, in December of that year, I had to work this one Saturday and bus service were we were living in Maryland, just outside the District of Columbia, wasn't very good on the weekends so I had driven Mom's car to work that day.

On the way home from work, my best friend -who was also my supervisor -was with me and as we were coming out Pennsylvania Ave Southeast, the car started to heat up. I made it across the Anacostia (can't remember if that is supposed to be with one "n" or two) and pulled into a service station there where the attendant checked the radiator for me. He told me the car had plenty of water. Shows how much he actually knew about cars too because his answer to me was actually, "Oh, you've got lots of water in there. It's just bubbly away, really hard."

I asked if he thought I'd be able to make it the rest of the way home with the car -had about 3 miles to go I think and he'd said, "Oh sure. That won't be a problem." So off we went. Got on the Suitland Parkway and the closer we got to the exit ramp for Suitland Road, the more the car was by that time, beginning to cough out clouds of white smoke. When I got to the stop sign where the ramp merged into Suitland Road, the car totally shut off on me and these humungous clouds of really thick white smoke were then totally enveloping the car.

My girlfriend, Joan (who, by the way 41 years later, is still my bestest friend) was really in a panic. She was yelling at me that we'd better get the hell off the road and out of this car cause she just knew the eff'er was gonna explode on us and we would go up in a poof of smoke.

About that time, some nice guy came along and pushed us from the ramp clear down (about a mile, maybe 2) to the ESSO (precursor of EXXON I think) station just past Pennsylvania Avenue where a good friend of mine worked. As we drifted into the gas station, smoke still billowing from under the poor car, my buddy Jerry came out, took one look at the car and said, "Oh man! You're Mom is gonna kill you cause you just killed her car I think."

And yes indeed, I had done that. I'd caused the complete demise of that old boat of a car that Joan and I always called "The Green Hornet."

Although I really couldn't afford it, I had to get another car then. We couldn't deal with not having a vehicle even though I usually took the bus to work. So car shopping I went.

I called a guy I knew from back home here who always worked as a new car salesman in the Virginia area and he had always worked at a Ford dealership too -which was great in my book cause I still had the "Ford is best" theory working in my mind - thinking back to my Dad's old 1940 Ford, ya know. But, as luck would have it, he was working at that time for a Chevy dealership out at Seven Corners in Virginia. I have no clue how the heck I got out there to look at the cars available - since we sure as heck didn't have a second car sitting around and I can't think that I would have taken the bus that far. That would have taken me half the day just making bus connections to get out there. But somehow, I got there and Mick convinced me the best car for me, at that point in time, was a new 1967 (end of the season, left-over unit) Nova, in steel blue, two door, radio and heater and white-wall tires too for a mere $2,617. Yes, I remember the price tag of the first car I bought! I remember too I had to get a small loan from the bank for $240 to use as the down payment. My car payment was $66 a month for three years, and the bank loan repayment was $32 a month for a year, so for the first year I had that puppy, I was coughing up just under $100 a month to pay for it.

Considering I wasn't even earning $100 a week then and had to pay rent, car insurance then, a couple other bills and buy food (and clothes too) for myself, my older daughter AND my Mom, I worked a lot of overtime in order to make that car my own!

I had that car till about 1973 when my then husband convinced me to sell it to someone for $600 and I don't recall what type of vehicle we got then to replace the Nova.

In November of 1977, hubbie and I decided we needed a new car and we ended up buying a really sharp, new (1978, not a leftover on the lot) Chevy Monte Carlo that was all white with powder blue plush (velour) interior. WOW. It was a looker, that baby was. I don't know who was prouder of that car though - me or my husband.

But in 1979, when the marriage was going down the tubes and I was stuck driving a raggy, ramshackle bucket of bolts big-assed station wagon that was really a mess and not reliable to make five runs a week over the mountain to work in State College (75 miles round trip which came to 375 miles a week), I knew I had to bite the bullet and buy a new car. I went to the dealership where Frank had worked and got myself a cute little Chevy Chevette - solid black. The sticker price on it was around $4200-$4400 - don't recall the specifics on that one and my payments were $127 a month - that part I do remember -for five years.

Now that was a car! It was just perfect for me - small, easy on gas, low maintenance too it proved to be as well. By the time it got its first oil change, the car had 117,000 plus miles on it and at 135,000, I had both the time and money to get the oil changed a second time. That car had great traction too for a little bug type vehicle -would "walk" right up roads here that were snow-covered and slippery and where better cars would fail. But my trusty little Chevette never let me down at all!

In 1984 though, the milage was by then up close to 150,000 on the Chevette and I was concerned it was going to probably die on me so I found a used Ford Fairlane that my then boss had on his used car lot for $1,200 and bought that. The thing I liked the best about that car was that it had air conditioning -and not the kind you joke about involving rolling down the windows either. But sadly, after a little over a year's time, the air conditioning was about the only thing that worked prety much the way it was supposed to. Getting the car to keep running any time you had to stop for a light or stop sign was getting to be next to impossible. It was breaking down so regularly and even my ex-brother-in-law, who is one of the best mechanics in about a three-county area, couldn't get it to run right and he advised me I'd best start looking for a new unit of some type.

And so, back to the "olde dealership" I did go in hopes of finding another Chevette that would serve my needs as well as this one had done. Instead though, I ended up buying a 1988 Subaru Justy, which - until it totally rusted out on me -did run just about as good as the Chevette had done.

In 1994, when I was working two jobs (my normal way of life for many years) except one of these two jobs was in Baltimore, 220 miles from here, Monday thru Friday and then I would come home Friday night and work the weekend at the "weather place" in State College and that old Justy, my brother-in-law was afraid was going to just break apart in the middle of the frame from all the rust it had so a-shopping I did go and I came home with yet another Subaru Justy - a 1994 model, in silver grey.

After making darned sure the car was rust-proofed as part of the sale package, I ran that buggy till 2000, and with close to 160,000 miles on it, I traded it for a brand-spanking new Ford Focus! Finally - a Ford!

My son is all about either Chevrolet or Volkswagon Bugs -from the 1960's with the "VW Bugs" though and although he did concede that some rating system for vehicles had given high marks to the Subarus I'd bought, therefore, he could excuse my driving that make vehicle, when I bought that Ford Focus, you'd have thought I'd just committed hari kari or something.

But, the Focus did me well. Really, it did. The fact that any car I ever bought new I also always purchased the special "Disability" insurance along with the car financing package because I knew I had to always have a car but if I were sick or injured, couldn't work, I wanted to make sure I wouldn't lose my mode of transportation. Little did I know when I bought that Focus what a good move it would be for me that I had bought that insurance as when I got sick in 2003, cancer of the colo-rectal region -that insurance covered the last two years worth of payments on the Focus!

I'd probably still be driving that Focus today too if my son hadn't managed to total it on Christmas Night a year ago.

I was looking to buy a used car then cause I knew I didn't want any car payments to have to make with my poor little social security disability check income and since my son-in-law is also a mechanic, he was looking around for a good used unit for me. In doing so, he learned a buddy of his who runs a small used car thing on the side, had this 1996 Ford Windstar van for sale. According to Bill, the book price on this minivan was between $2,600 and $2,800, but his friend had said if I was interested, he'd let me have it for a mere $1,800.

I'd pretty well decided this car sounded like a decent enough deal but then Mandy learned that Bill's friend was low, really low on funds at that time and that maybe, just maybe, she could talk him into knocking a few more bucks off the price and that's how I came to get this car for around $1,500-1,600!

It runs nice; isn't too bad on gas except at gas prices that are now up to $3.20 per gallon, I still costs me almost $60 just to fill the tank on it. However, since I don't go running around that much with it, I can usually run the van for a month on that amount of gas fuel.

And there you have it folks! All the cars I have owned, myself plus one that was jointly owned (the monte carlo) and which was also "gone with the wind" in the divorce settlement, plus the cars of my childhood to my early 20's.

I hope I can keep this van running -and running - and running -and never have to worry about buying another car, new or used, again.


Sandi McBride said...

What is it about cars with us? I can remember every car we ever had as a child and every one I had as an it lunacy that makes us that way? I even remember the farm wagon my grandfather let me "drive" when I was little...okay, lunacy, that is the answer! Loved this post!

Linda said...

I'm not sure I remember all of the cars I've had but my very fist car was a Chevy Chevette that I bought from my Air Force supervisor at my first permanent duty station in New Jersey. I think it was a 1975 model and I drove that thing all over the place including Oklahoma, numerous trips to Connecticut, St. Louis, and Lord knows where else. It even had an 8-track so I was driving in style!

Meloncutter said...

Well, I got a 94 ford aerostar with 185000 miles on it. We drive it every day.

We are gonna update it before too long tho.

Later Y'all.

Vic, the Cariboo Ponderer said...

My first car was a 1958 Pontiac Parisienne aqua with wings. It was huge. I got it just after coming from Britain so it seemed like a huge boat.

The second a Red Toyota Corolla when red was still way out for a car.

A silver Buick Skylark

Presently Chevy Aveo5 bright yellow

There were other cars that we used as a family but these were mine

SnoopMurph said...

I had a Chevy Monte Carlo as a my very first car in high school. I literally blew up the engine because I never put oil in the car or had the oil changed. Learned that lesson the hard way! I also had a Ford Escort that I bought myself for college and LOVED that car until I finally got my first official "real world" car-a Geo Prizm. That lasts me 12 years! So, I am now onto a Pontiac Vibe, which I love and hope to run as far and long as it will take me! Great post!

Jeff B said...

My first car was a '72 Ford Pinto. I've never hated a car more than that one. It was kind of like driving a soda can with wheels. Argh!