Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Ballad of Old Blue

Old Blue was more teal than blue, but Old Teal just didn't have a ring to it. It was a '94 Mitsubishi Expo, more of a micro-van than anything else. (Eagle Summit and Plymouth Vista made basically the same car. All three had short production lives.) After a good year -- my best, in fact -- I paid cash for it; I think it was two years old.

It had a big four cylinder, the high seat of an SUV, and a back bench seat that folded flat. Although Old Blue was actually shorter and narrower than my previous car, a sporty Toyota Celica, its cargo space defied the laws of physics. I never found anything that wouldn't fit in this tiny car. I moved beds, a sofa, a barcalounger the size of Montana, headboards, dressers. There was always room to spare.
I loved it so much that when it was 6-7 years old, it needed a new transmission...and I bought it: I spent $1700 for a rebuilt transmission. I drove it problem-free for another4-5 years.

I started getting concerned about her age, and her reliability, so in 2002, I bought the grannymobile: a '99 Mazda 626 four-door sedan. The vehicular equivalent of sensible shoes. But I couldn't sell Old Blue right away. I even enlisted my parents to help sell her, but at the time she had a very loud clunk! that people found troubling. So I decided I'd just be a one-person, two-car family for awhile. Hey, this is America. I eventually got the clunk! fixed, but found that I missed it so much, I'd sometimes just have to shout "clunk!" ... sort of like Little Peppy's horn.

I ended up driving Old Blue for another two years, while the grannymobile sat patiently out front. And then one day, she just wouldn't go no mo. A dealer diagnosed a bad alternator, which had burned out the battery and several other components. Now I really couldn't justify another $1,000 worth of repairs to a 10-11 year old car, so I donated her to charity. Somebody recognized her worth, though, and I believe I've seen her around town a couple of times.

I was horrified to realize that the grannymobile, my "new" car, is now ten years old. [Insert time cliché here.] I don't think I'll ever love her, or any other car, the way I did Old Blue, but I have developed a real fondness and appreciation for her.

Plus, in the last year, all on her own, she's started to "clunk!" Go, Granny, Go.

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