February 4, 2007

I'm Too Sexy for My Car

The first automobile I ever owned was a 1960-something Fiat Spyder convertible. I bought it with money my maternal grandfather gave me. Bright yellow with black running boards and roof, my nineteen-year-old self looked damn good in it.

Three years later, I was driving a cherry red 1983 Ford Mustang GT 5.0. Yes, a muscle car of sorts. Yes, my then-husband picked it out. But I liked it just fine. Zero to 60 in second gear made getting on the highway a rush of pure joy. I got my first speeding ticket in that car. I got my second, third, and fourth speeding tickets in that car. I learned the obvious lesson: people driving red cars receive more speeding tickets. I swore I would never own another red car.

I drove it for nine years before trading it in on something better suited to my life: a silver Toyota Corolla stationwagon, circa 1992. I had a son and two dogs. We liked to go places together. It fit.

Today I drive a 1999 Toyota Camry. It's a common shade of light brown, taupe maybe. There are at least one million others like it on the road. The missing paint on the rear bumper is one way to quickly identify it as mine in a parking lot. It's economical, functional and halfway comfortable.

I work for an engineer who chuckled, "You drive an accountant's car alright."

Man. That cut. Mocked by an engineer.
But hey, it is what it is.

Last week, a gas station attendant struck up a conversation with me as he checked my oil while I pumped gas. He said, "I have a car just like this except it's blue. 1999 yes? You like yours?" I answered without thinking, "Yeah I like it well enough. I'll probably be driving it for another five years or so."

That thought depressed me. I'm one of those people who buys a car and drives it until most of its useful life is lived. I should be pleased if my car lasts that much longer, not depressed. Still. I'm tired of the one I have. But I'll keep driving it. Replacing a car is too much work: shopping, comparing, educating, test driving, salespeople. Plus I'm cheap frugal.

My car will continue to say nothing about me as we blend into our suburban environs going about our daily tasks in an economical and nondescript manner. And I'll keep wondering why I don't enjoy blending in as much as I used to.



Anonymous said...

How is your fuel consumption in this car? Maybe it's time to downsize with less emissions so you'll be doing your bit for global warming and climate change.
The US is one of the biggest culprits.
Sorry, this sounds like preaching! Just a thought.

Trop said...

I'll be in my 1996 Jeep Cherokee for another five years, if I'm "lucky." That's depressing.

weese said...

I had my Nissan Quest (family van)for 13 years and 180+ thousand miles (we'll never really know as the odometer crapped out).
i LOVED that car.
even after it served its purpose of ferrying the kids around - my home depot runs were a joy.
nothing wrong with keeping a car until its done. tho it does help to love it if you're going to be together for so long.

weese said...

oh.. and my 'new' car is a '98.
but its a convertible...so that makes it timeless. :)

Anonymous said...

To Pen above "doing your bit for global warming and climate change" by holding on to your car for as long as you reasonably can is preferable to switching to a new hybrid, considering the energy required to build a car. It might be different if you had an SUV or something but a Camry (properly maintained) isn't that much worse than a Prius.

Anonymous said...

I used to have hot rods and such. I drove a 77 Corvette for 11 years. Had a baby and that went out the window.

I am happy with my p.o.s. 92 Geo. Drove a 91 forever that got 50mpg (which I still have) but the 92 automatic gets 40mpg. Old car, but very reliable. Not a lot of power with 3 cylinders, but I love it.

My car has a jingle - I sing the Chia pet song to it but replace the word chia with geo. G - g- g- geo!

Middle Girl said...

I couldn't begin to tell you how many cars I've had. My ex bought cars the way one might buy socks. During 1 six month period we had 4 different cars.

I've been without a car for going on 3 years now. Not having to think about re-newing parking permits,insurance, dings, fuel and maintenance has been bliss.

However, the call for personal wheels is becoming harder and harder to ignore. Sometime soon the work must begin. arrghh.

It will probably be blue.

Gina said...

Isn't it interesting how we see cars as an extension of ourselves?

Boring black honda accord over here!

SassyFemme said...

I kind of like blending in, actually. We had Fran's old mini-van until it was run more than half way into the ground. We probably put a lot more money into keeping it running than we ever should have. Then we kept my Camry until it had probably 120k+ miles on it. As much as I want to get rid of my mini-van for a small-mid size SUV (I like the thought of 4WD in the snow), I'll probably have this for a very long time.

Eyes for Lies said...

I have a 1980 Fiat convertible parked in the garage with only 23,000 miles on it. It's in mint condition but it needs tuning after sitting so long. It's a lovely looking car -- and yeah, it makes anyone look sexy LOL.

I know what you mean about driving a car 'til its done. We just bought a new Civic and when we did, I realized I didn't need my old beastie -- a 1991 -- so I asked the dealer about trading it in. It only had 81,000 on it -- but it had no airbags so I figured it was time (or I would have driven it another 15 years). Frugal here too :)

I got a crowd gathered around it! They couldn't believe how MINT that car/year was. It was a like a dinosaur resurrected LOL to a group of young salesman. Did I feel old!!

sporksforall said...

You could choose other ways to stand out. Scout shaved her head. You could try that. It might make the Camry seems more cutting edge.

Unknown said...

Now this song is totally running through my head. Thanks! LMAO!

Anonymous said...

Two words...


Anonymous said...

I love, love, love my Miata as much now as I did when I bought it in 1992. I intend to keep it for as long as possible-- hopefully until it's 25 years old, so I can get a cool antique plate. It's definitely possible-- this car has been very good to me.

Maybe you should get a car that doesn't blend in...

Pisces75 said...

You have a gas attendent? I don't know how long it has been since I have seen a gas attendent.

I too drive a car until it dies.