punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Little White Chevette...

I was thinking about cars today...

Growing up, my father had a Maroon 1966 Thunderbird, and kept it until 1987. This think was old, squeaky, and had a vinyl top that was impossible to keep looking nice. In 1981, he bought a pimpmobile: a 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V. This huge blue boat of a car was part of some deal my father made with a guy in New York who looked like he was right from the cast of the "Sopranos." It had an 8-Track Quadraphonic stereo that sounded really nice in its plush velvet interior. Later, my father got a brown 1987 LC Mark VII as a "company car" or something, which he got to keep.

When Christine and I got married, we had her mom's 1987 Dodge Omni, a while car with a blood-red interior, for a few weeks before we had to give it back. Then we went a long time with no car, which sucked, but we were dirt poor. Finally, our friend Renee loaned us her Silver 1983 Chrysler LeBaron (with pimp velvet red interior), because it had a bad transmission (auto - it slipped a lot). Then, a friend of ours had a 1985 white 2-door Chevette that used to be her late mom's. Thus started the Chevette Saga...

Our friend's mother passed away, and they had to get rid of it. She already had two cars, and was living a lifestyle where she couldn't take care of it, and it did need some major repair work. But she didn't want to just junk it, so she sold it to us for $1, under the promise we'd fix it up and drive it. About $400 worth of exhaust work later, it ran. But boy, what a car! Such character.

It was white. White with pinstriping and fog lamps. Real sporty-looking. First, it was a two-door, but the car had been in an accident earlier in its life, and when they did the repair, the door was from a slightly different model (notably without pinstriping), and while it fit, it just barely did. It didn't seal, that's for sure. There were also two vent-style windows in the back, but if you left them open when the car was going at high speeds (for this car, that was 55mph), they'd fly off the hinges. The inside was a kind of bluebird-blue, with a faded dashboard that cracked over the speaker for the radio (AM only). The vent for the heater was stuck on the driver's side, and so whomever was driving the car would have their legs blasted with hot engine air. Christine had to put a towel over her shin to keep it from burning on hot days. The car couldn't have gone more than 55mph, and when it got to that speed, is shook like it was about to fall apart.

It ran great for 6 months, but sadly, we could afford to take care of the car like we should have, and small problems turned into bigger ones, and then finally, it blew a rod. The repair place said to call someone to junk it. We pushed the car to a lot next to the repair place, and I called a junk tower. We came back a few days later, and ... the car was gone! I contacted the repair shop, and they said it might have been towed, but they didn't tow it, and they said they hadn't seen it. We asked the businesses around if they had seen it, and they hadn't. Finally, we reported it stolen, which was ludicrous, because it didn't run; how could anyone get it off the lot? The police officer who took the case said he'd check the local tow companies and impound lots, and nothing ever turned up. It was eventually reported as stolen, and we got some piddling money back from the insurance company ... and that was the end.

I have always felt like the car went to car heaven, and sometimes I see a white Chevette and wonder, "Is that you, little car?" No, it's just a ghost...

Our next car came a year later, it was a black 1987 Chevy Cavalier. This was part of a horrific story about a crooked dealership (Brown's Honda of Alexandria), where they sold us something that they knew was damaged. Two weeks after driving it off the lot, it died. We took it to a repair place, and they told us that something was seriously wrong with the fuel system. They got it to run, but it would then die a week later. Further investigation was that the computer the regulated the fuel was bad, and the repair shop said that any check by the dealership on car health would have shown that. We called the dealership, there was fighting back and forth, we pulled the "Anti-Lemon Law," on them, they lied about the warrantee, it got ugly. So we got someone to contact the local news, and then I had a lawyer friend call them, and then they paid for us to have the car fixed. It ran great for about 3 years, and then died.

We got another used (1993, I think) Cavalier; a sort of light-Teal colored one. This car ran great for another few years, but had no character to speak of. We eventually traded it in for our first new car, a 1998 Bottle-green Saturn wagon. We were looking around for another car when the Cavalier was getting up there in miles and age, and we had always wanted a Saturn, but not a green one. We were really honestly just looking for a car to get within a year, but they liked our trade-in because they were looking for that car for someone else. Trouble was, the model and color of car we wanted was not available, so we said "we'll think about it." A week later, they called, saying "We need your car, we'll pay you [a lot more than it was worth], and we have a Saturn wagon, it's green, I know you hate green, but it's got all these options we'll toss in for free, we can have it for you by tomorrow, but pleeeeeeeeeeeeassseeee?" I have no idea why they wanted our car so badly, but they were willing to pay WAY over book value for the Cavalier and give us a ton of freebies for a car "we might not like the color of," so, how could we pass that up? We wanted a Blue 1997 SW1, but all they could get was a Green SW2, so they adjusted the cost on our trade-in, threw in all the power options for free, and were super-nice to us.

In fact, looking back on it, the Saturn dealership in Sterling has been NOTHING but great to us, as well as to my friends. I am very happy with my Saturn wagon, bottle-green and all. Later, we bought our second car, a Blue SC3, from them in 2002.

Tell me, my fair readers, what was your first car?

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000109.html
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