Sunday, November 23, 2014

my cars

I got through high school without a car. Mostly because I had a staggering income of about $45 a week, supplemented by an occasional babysitting job. I also survived without a car because we lived within walking distance of work, church, school and bicycling distance of friends. Some of my friends were luckier than I and had a car that I took advantage of as a passenger. I also survived my first year of college without a car. My parents were kind enough to drive me to a neighboring state and drop me and my bicycle off in a dorm room and again everything was within walking or bicycling distance. After my freshman year of college, I spent the summer in Phoenix to work and save money for the next school year and obviously to get around in Phoenix, I would finally need a car. My brother-in-law Kevin, took me around to some used dealerships and although I fell in love with a little orange Fiat, Kevin wouldn't let me pursue that purchase because he said the repair costs of a foreign sports car would be expensive. I didn't know why he would be worrying about a silly thing like that. (Little did I know how much repair costs and labor would be a part of my life in the coming years). Anyway, we found a Toyota that was a good little car to get me around Phoenix for my summer job and back up to St George Utah for my second year of college. This was the only car I can remember washing and waxing regularly and kept so very clean and polished. The fun of that quickly wore off and a more moderate level of car care became the norm. I bought this first car with a significant down payment for a young college student, but also carried some debt. If I remember right the payments were $78 a month for 30 months. It was a difficult payment, but since I was finishing school at ASU, I had to have a car for the regular route between school, work and home. This beauty, although mechanically sound, had no Air Conditioning. I drove it in Phoenix for the 3 years I attended ASU in Tempe. I lived in Phoenix. I'd go out to my car after school in the afternoons, open the door to the car to let the 190 degree interior air escape, and then drove home in the 115 degree air all the way to Phoenix, sweaty from head to toe day after day. Good times!

When I graduated from college and was looking for my first "real" job, my dad was involved in a car dealership in northern Arizona where he lived. I was looking for a good car, he found a good deal and I bought a brand new Toyota that my dad picked out for me -- sign unseen. I'm not sure this picture is exactly the same model I drove, it seemed to me to have had a more dramatic slant down the front hood, but it did have pop-up headlights (or retractable halogen headlights) which I loved. 

Knowing what I know about debt now, I probably should have kept the first car for another year or two until I had been employed for a longer period of time, but I think I got this one fairly soon after graduation. I also carried a debt on this. I don't remember anything about the original cost, or the payment plan. I do know however, that as we drove this car when I got married, I had a husband that dented and dinged it up more than once (I use the word "ding" loosely. He wrecked it!) Anyway, we had a baby and I stopped working full time, we were poor, and our insurance rates got increased once too many times and we had to get away from a cute sporty car with payments to an old boat of a car with no payments. So in 1987, we bought a 1976 Mercury Marquis and drove it for the next 4 or 5 years. Fancy right? I'm remembering that it often didn't have air conditioning either. Dave said it did at first, but all my memories are of having to keep babies cool in the hot back seat of this car. Rachel was in kindergarten when we started looking for a new car. I remember Rachel expressed embarrassment at driving the Mercury. I must have really been in bad shape by then. 

 Then we slipped into a 20 year period of driving mini-vans. One after another after another. A red one, a white one and a silver one - all used, and the red one had a full engine overhaul at one point. Dave did it himself - hundreds of pieces of engine laying out on our driveway and put back together in proper order and the car ran. I remember in the middle of that project, our bishop happened to walk up our driveway to our house. Dave had gone inside and Brady was out there alone in the middle of the hundreds of engine pieces laying around. He said "Does your dad know you did that?" (haha) Come to think of it, I think Dave rebuilt the engine of the Mercury at one point too. He was a Super Hero during those years keeping our cars running. 

 This one is a google search of a similar white van to what we owned.

The only picture I have of our actual car is this one. Our kids wrapped it around a telephone pole. You might think the wrecked body is the main thing to see in this picture. But it's not. The other significant thing to see is that this van had blue flowers down each side of the car. I don't actually know why. They were there when we purchased it. Actually when Dave purchased it. I think I would have nixed a van with flower power on it, but Dave bought it for us while I was out of town. It was a one of a kind vehicle, so people would constantly say "I saw you at the Library," or "I saw you at the intersection," or "I saw your van at the church" etc etc. I had no anonymity around town. Although it was a scary situation for our 3 kids involved, I was kind of glad to get another van. 

Which was the reason we needed to buy one more, and in a hurry. A used 2003 Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van. 

 Last year, after 9 years of loyal service, our beloved mini van was squawking and making all kinds of crazy noises that were alarming to me and to nearby motorists so we finally made a decision to move on.  We ended up with a Durango, which as I evaluate the features, it is as close to being a minivan without being one. It still has the 3 row of seats if needed, it still has a lot of cargo space when the seats are folded down, it still sits up a little high off the ground. But it feels more grown up than the mini van of years gone by. Someone asked me recently why we bought a Dodge. I don't know. I had a list of interior features I wanted and I wanted a blue car so we started shopping from my checklist.  In the end, I have been very happy with it. We purchased it with the intention of keeping it for 10 years. I hope I still like it at the 9 1/2 year mark. 
Dave has a separate and distinct story of his vehicles over the years. He has had old cars and old trucks, and finally a decade ago bought a big brand new Chevy truck for work which is now quite old, but he loves it dearly and I think he would consider rebuilding it before getting another one. 
I'm trying to decide if 7 cars over a 34 year period of time is excessive or if it is normal. 

1 comment:

Suzanne Barker said...

So I just did some tabulating. I had a few short term "junkers" that my parents let me drive the end of high school, and occasionally in college. I can't remember how many of them there were, but I think at least 3 or 4. But the first car I bought was in 1983.
It was a Chevy Cavalier.
then a Toyota Tercel,
Saturn, Another Chey Cavalier, a VW Passat and now a Hyundai Sonata. So that is six cars in 29 years, that I purchased.