Monday, March 24, 2014

The New Car In Our Driveway




Yesterday afternoon the snappy Chevy Impala pictured above pulled up the driveway to the Compound and our son got out. I went out to greet him and get a look at his new car. It’s a dandy! It’s actually only the second car he’s owned since he got his driver’s license when he turned 16 back in 1999. His new car is a 2013 with a few thousand miles on it, barely broken in. It’s a Flex-Fuel vehicle; it’s loaded with all sorts of features and accessories; it even has that “new car” smell! He got a good deal on it from a Milwaukee Chevy dealer, and they gave him what I consider to be a very decent trade-in allowance on his 2000 Chevy Impala.

I still remember the afternoon he drove that car into the driveway at the Compound, the day he bought it in the spring of ’02. He did the deal on that car all by himself, which made me very happy and proud. My intent in raising our two kids was that they’d have the independence to run their own lives, using mom and me as resources and givers of advice. I told them both when they were graduating from high school that I couldn’t – and wouldn’t want to – run their adult lives; that mom and I would always be here for them, always wanted to be very much involved in their lives, but wanted them to call the shots.

I am so glad that neither one of our kids has wasted as much money as I have on cars, a lesson I thought I’d learned a couple decades ago, but – well, that’s another story.  I think now, as I approach my 65th year, I’ve finally learned the lesson that cars are an expense item, that they’re for transportation, not an investment.

 

Both our kids learned to drive on Rosie, the ‘94 Colt Vista wagon pictured above, which I’ve written about before. Rosie was the best family car we ever had.

 

Pictured above is a 1984 Thunderbird, very similar to the one which mom and I bought for our son a few months after he got his driver’s license in May of 1999. Somewhere I have a picture of the actual car, but I can’t find it right now. We bought the black T-Bird in a cash deal from a private party in McFarland, a fellow who was a mechanic at a car dealership and took meticulous care of the car and had all the documents relating to its maintenance. I have no doubt that when our son took over the car, the gas pedal on that venerable T-Bird spent way too much time pressed tightly to the floorboard, but – for a couple years, it got our son and his sister and a couple of their friends to school and back every day, and it probably went on a lot of adventures I’d just as soon not know about.  It died a horrible death a couple years after we bought it, when the electronics fried themselves to death.  It ended its life as a “parts car” for a mechanic on Stewart Street who was kind enough to take it off our hands.




I can’t readily find a picture of the first car our son bought on his own, but the picture of the 2000 Impala above looks exactly like his first car did.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 12 years since he first drove that car into our driveway, but he took more than reasonable care of it, and when it finally died last Friday, it had well over a hundred thousand miles on the ticker. I have never owned a car for 12 years; not even close!

 
Our son had told us for months that his 2000 Impala was on its last legs, and Friday, when he went to start it to take it to the dealer and trade it in, it was dead. Not “dead dead”, but it wouldn’t turn over. He pulled his wife’s car alongside the trusty old Impala, hooked up the jumper cables, and when he went to start his car, he says the engine “blew up” with a puff of smoke and a couple small fires under the hood. (No, he didn’t have the jumper cables hooked up wrong.) Long story short, the dealer agreed to tow the old Impala to the dealership, and still gave him a more than decent offer for trade-in value.

I’m glad that both of our kids have a very sensible view of automobiles, that they’re transportation and not status symbols.  It’s a lesson I’m pretty sure I have finally learned.


Above is a 1995 photo of three of the nine vehicles I owned at that time – pre-divorce, pre-marriage to Toni, pre-kids! I had a fleet of collector cars, including a lot of classic Chevelles, Corvettes, and two “winter beaters”, but that’s a story for another time. In the photo above you can see my “daily driver” during the warm-weather months, a beautiful blue Corvette; the one next to it is a perfectly-restored 1968 Chevelle SS-396; and the green one was my hot-rod, a 1970 Chevelle pavement-ripper that made a LOT of noise and left just about every other car on the road in the dust.

 

I’m glad my kids turned out to be more sensible than me. Those cars were fun, but damned expensive to keep around! I'm confident our son's new Impala will give him many years of good service - reliable transportation, not too flashy, but very stylish.

10 comments:

  1. Good move by your son. That '13 will run out to 150K or more before it starts hiccuping.

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  2. Awesome collector car fleet. Do you still have any of them, kept around as a guilty pleasure?

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    1. I do not. I hung onto that '68 Chevelle SS396 as long as I could - it was a perfect restoration - but, to avoid being forced to sell some of my radio station ownership shares to meet the terms of the divorce, I had to sell it. It was the last of the fleet to go. It wasn't an easy decision, but, the terms of the divorce settlement were very fair, and at that time the radio stock was skyrocketing. I thought - foolishly - that some day I'd begin collecting cars again, but it was not to be. I sold the '68 Malibu to a guy in DeForest. The '70 went to a guy in the Fox Valley. I had a couple classic 'Vettes that went to a guy in Racine, and shortly after I sold them to him - young guy with more money than brains - he totaled one and damn near killed himself. One of the "winter beaters" was an '84 AMC Eagle Wagon 4x4 which was THE BEST winter car I ever owned - it too was restored to showroom condition - and I sold that car at a premium to a local (Madison) collector. My ex got the perfectly restored 1980 Datsun 280 ZX Turbo car, which was the only one she really liked; and I wound up selling the blue '86 Corvette (in the picture above) to the F&I guy at Ahrens Cadillac. I was going to trade it in for a new Cadillac ETC, but he offered me more in cash than the dealership did in trade! So I took his cash and bought the Eldo outright. As far as I know he still drives that 'vette. I've owned a lot of classic muscle over the years, including a '61 Chevy Impala SS 409 and a '66 Plymouth Belvedere Hemi - but I still have hope that some day I'll own the one I always wanted and never owned - a '69 Shelby GT500KR Mustang. It's way out of reach financially now, but - that's my dream.

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  3. Close, but not quite. However, it's available for a LOT less than a '69: http://www.ewaldshartfordford.com/inventory/Used-Vehicle-Detail-Page.aspx?vin=1ZVBP8JS8C5216122

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    1. Nice car, and a lot less pricey than a '69.....but, not even tempting. I've got an '06 Magnum Hemi in the garage here that would stand up nicely to that '12 GT500......

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    2. Well, then, consider the '14 'vette, which would wipe the floor with your Hemi--and for only about $55K including tax, title, yada.

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    3. OR you can go to the auction!

      http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1403-1969-shelby-gt500-with-8531-miles-up-for-auction/

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  4. Congratulation on the new car! It's sad that the old one had to bow out in such a way. It happens though, which only means that we should prioritize getting better engines and repair that will cover the damages to avoid such situations, as well as prepare for the long haul.

    Georgetown Exxon

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  5. Nice collection of cars! It’s like a panorama of all the cars you drove as you aged. I agree with what you said that kids in this generation don't have a hard time learning to drive due to the modern features of vehicles today. Thanks for sharing!

    Sarah Erwin

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  6. Well, that is a brilliant sight that's worth waking up to in the morning. Your son sure had lots of experience in driving different kinds of cars. That Chevy Impala looks really neat. I hope everything works out fine with regard to the car, such as its parts and elements. Kudos!

    Mike Hull @ Gem Car Parts Direct

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