Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Full Circle

Up until about 3 years ago, my main requirement for a car was "Does it drive?" My dad had the knowledge and resources to fix anything on a car, so my parents always drove old cars. There was just no need for a newer car. In high school, I inherited the 1974 Chevelle that my parents had bought used in 1980. It had a sweet 8-track player, and I remember my friends and I rocking out to the Sesame Street Fever 8-track.

(not my car; picture from http://www.superchevy.com/events/sucp_0812_2008_indianapolis_super_chevy_show/photo_15.html)

I also remember a kid in my chemistry class sitting in the back seat and beating me over the head with a vintage glass soda pop bottle while I drove (not sure why that was in the car or where it came from). He's now an EMT and/or nurse or something, and I sure hope he doesn't sit in the ambulance and beat the driver over the head with bottles.

My grandma's eyesight eventually failed her and at some point my sister and I inherited her gold 1986 Delta 88 Royale. We thought it was so new and awesome. I totally lost out and my sister got to drive it while I continued to drive the old Chevelle. I drove the Chevelle until it stopped going in reverse sometime in about 2003.

After the Chevelle, TheEx's aunt gave us her grandma-car, and I don't remember what kind it was exactly. It was fantastic because it had an automatic starter! You could start it from inside the house and get it all warm and toasty before you ever set foot out the door. Eventually it needed the head gasket replaced and wasn't worth the $1500 it would take to fix it.

So we went car shopping. This would be my first car payment ever. I had been raised as a GMC/Chevrolet girl, but TheEx decidedly was not, so I had to think foreign. I wanted a VW Jetta. We went to see a Jetta, and there was this super-ugly frumpy car next to it. It had 70,000 miles on it and I thought it was a terrible deal. TheEx fell in love with it, so that's what we got - a 1999 Volvo S80. I eventually came to appreciate its' beauty and LOVED driving it. It had so much power and was just a great car to drive. It got 33 mpg on the freeway if I was careful. Over the first couple years we poured well over $10,000 into it - thank goodness we had an extended warranty!

(not my car; picture from http://www.mycarwallpapers.com/volvo/)

In March 2007 TheEx decided that he was going to go work 1500 miles away, so he needed his own car. I figured he should pick out a cheap clunker that could make it to the new city, then work until he had enough money for an awesome car. He figured differently. He told me he had to have a REALLY NICE car for his sales job. I reminded him it was phone sales and clients would never see his car. That didn't change his mind. He picked out a 2004 Volvo S60R, which is a smaller, way more sporty version of the S80.

(not his car; picture from http://www.mycarwallpapers.com/volvo/2004-volvo-s60r/10/28930/)

By this time, I fully appreciated the beauty of the Volvo line, and I had to admit it was a smokin' hot car. Dark gray exterior with orange leather interior. 0-60 in 2 seconds, or so it seemed. Like an idiot, I signed the loan papers for the car even though it cost about $25,000 more than any car I would have chosen. And then TheEx refused to ever let me drive it! I am not all that great with a stick shift, but I *can* drive one, so I was really put out that he wouldn't even let me try it. I paid for 2/3 of it; I felt like I should get to at least test drive it! If he was concerned about the transmission, he could teach me exactly how to baby it. (Eventually I found out this is the car that Stephenie Meyer's EDWARD CULLEN drives in the book!!)

(not his car; pic from http://forums.subdriven.com/zerothread?cmd=print&id=3889626)

One time we drove to Las Vegas and TheEx was doing 90-100 mph through the Virgin River Gorge. I thought he was absolutely insane for driving like that, especially since the kids were in the car. The car could handle it, and he could handle it, but who knows what would be around the next bend stopped in the middle of the road? If he drove like that with me there, I have no idea how he drove when I wasn't in the car! Based on the huge tickets he's received, I can only guess.

My Volvo has been broken down since this past February. It is worth about $3000 if it was in great condition and it needs a $1500 head gasket repair plus $1500 of body work (I had a minor sideswipe last summer). So it has been sitting there dead for the past 7 months. A few months ago, TheEx FINALLY LET ME DRIVE his car! It was SO. FREAKING. AWSEOME. If you have never driven a car with that much power, you have to try it. Even if you're a girl and don't think you like fast cars. Now, maybe I am different, because auto racing is in my blood (my dad was a drag racer and my mom was pregnant with me while she was my dad's pit crew), but I LOVED IT. It was absolutely thrilling. My kids would insist on taking my cell phone when I drove and every time we left a stop light, they would call Daddy to tattle on me and tell him I was speeding. I would explain that I wasn't actually speeding, but that I just might have accelerated a little bit quicker than most people. It was SO fun. I still thought TheEx was an idiot for driving 100 mph through the Virgin River Gorge, but I GOT IT. It would be very difficult NOT to drive like that in that car.

OK, this has dragged on so long I've forgotten the whole reason for writing it. Sometimes I just like to write and reminisce with myself. I don't get out a lot, people ;-)

On July 29th, something on TheEx's transmission broke while I was driving it. Either he was justified in his resistance to me driving his car, or it was just a coincidence that it broke while I was driving it. Given the many problems it has had in the past, I think it's just a coincidence. But nevertheless, that was the last time I drove it. I still miss it. He has his car now, and guess what I have been driving? My grandma's old gold 1986 Delta 88 Royale. Oh yes. Take that LittleSister, I WIN. You got it in high school, but I get it now!

(not my car, mine is GOLD; pic from http://hotrod205.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/delta88front.jpg)

OK, yes, that's just my way of trying to feel less pathetic. It is so embarrassing to drive. Like I said, I used to not care about what my car looked like or how old it was. But after driving that Volvo, I got used to driving a NICE car. So now the granny car is embarrassing. The clear coat is entirely gone and half of the paint is bubbled or peeling. The best part about the car is that the odometer doesn't work (permanently stuck on 138074) AND the gas gauge doesn't work. You just get to guess when you need gas!

The second best thing about the car is the radio. When my parents brought the car to me, the AM/FM radio was working, but you had to have a pen jammed into the cassette player to get it to work. At some point, this stopped working, so I had no radio. My dad replaced the radio with an old AM-only radio. He quickly set the first 5 presets that came up, and off we went. By the time I got home (70 miles away) the 'tune' dial wasn't working. So I was set with the presets my dad had set. And the 70 miles makes a difference - you need a bit of tuning to get the station in clearly. So basically, I was left with one non-staticky station - the local conservative talk radio! I carefully arranged all work trips for after Rush Limbaugh's show was over. I can listen to Bob Lonsberry, Dr. Laura, Glenn Beck and I love Dave Ramsey, but I won't listen to Rush Limbaugh. And now the talk radio station has switched stations. So my current options are an oldies station that switches to NASCAR in the evenings or a 'classic country' station. I watched enough NASCAR growing up to get my fill for life, so classic country it is. Today I was listening to the country station, and Kenny Rogers' "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" came on.

I had come full circle! We used to listen to that album on the 8-track in the 1974 Chevelle! And by the way, that is a really weird song. It's about a paralyzed Vietnam vet whose girlfriend/wife is going out on a date. And then he says if he could move he'd get his gun and kill her. Nice. I never listened to the words before.

Anyway, at least the car drives!! I am grateful for that. Someday I'd like to move *forward* and buy a car with less than 140,000 miles AND an FM radio, but for now at least I have a car that drives! I am so glad that I'm not hauling 3 kids around on a bike, or walking.


Akahige said...

What on Earth are you doing to those poor Volvos to break them so thoroughly and frequently!?

We haven't had anything major go wrong with ours... well, except when I started upgrading the motor on the old one and blew out the transmission, but that was sort of cause-and-effect...

On the upside, now we have a 20-year-old Volvo that will handily outrun the S60R.

Katie said...

No idea! They were both used, so who knows what they'd been through before we got them. Mine started having major problems within months of us buying it.

alisaterry said...

As soon as I saw the topic o this post, my eyes started to glaze over, but I kept reading, and kept reading, and it turns out, it was interesting. You must be a good writer, because cars are NOT my thing!

Katie said...

Ha ha, thanks.

Chandelle said...

I love Volvos, but I really lit up that you wanted a Jetta! We're planning to get a "new" car in a few months and that's what I'd like.

I think you should expand on that story about your parents. :)

Katie said...

What story? About my dad being a drag racer and my mom being the pit crew?

Ramon said...

I'm really laughing about the radio, I bet you just love rocking down the road. If you would like I'll replace your radio for free! Let me know and I'll rip it out and put in a new one.

Katie said...

Ramon, I would love that! Are you prepared to take the dash apart?!