My old car broke down
“The only thing I’ve had more of than boyfriends is the number of cars I’ve had in 23 year of driving”
What is it with me, and old cars.
I’ll be 39 this year.
The likelihood of me ever setting foot in a dealership, lining up a down payment and making monthly payment installments on a 2021-2-3 whatever seems highly unlikely. I love cars too much to ever attach myself to a brand new one with enthusiasm. I don’t need a new car because I’ve lived 20+ years as an adult that’ll never need a new car.
I’ve not married (thanks my predilection for penis and not conforming to HRC conformity).
I don’t live in a suburban environment beholden to commuting solely by car.
I still rent, in an urban core, as my adulthood has dictated and hopefully will continue to do so.
I have owned or taken long care stewardship of way too many a motley crew of cars however. 1998 saw me bury the Family Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon that dated back to 1975. It was followed by stints with my Great Grandmother’s 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue before I was bestowed with my own 1995 Chrysler LHS as a graduation gift from my Gay Uncle that lived in Reno.
Twenty long miles from town
The clutch is shot
And the sound is so hot
Oh, what I’d give to be home….
The LHS had typical transmission troubles of those Ultradrive era Chryslers, but was taken out by a tree and not drivetrain troubles. The LHS found itself replaced with a 1990 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that made me a “daddy” long before I was in age, so it got replaced with a 1998 Jetta VR6, bright red. Transmission issues came back to bite there, and I started a half decade long affair with a harem of Mercedes Benzes.
The 1982 300 D Turbodiesel whose axle failed….
The 1981 280E with the exhaust leak but the stolen tags that got it mixed up in the San Francisco towing racket.
The 1988 260E that burned oil, burned my face with it’s unruly climate control system before the head gasket gave up the ghost.
The 1972 280SE 4.5 that was a Christmastime splurge until I discovered how overwhelmingly rusty it was.
I babysat my Mother’s 2002 Ford Taurus during her transition to Portland, replacing a failed starter along the way. I was tempted to take on a 1985 Chevrolet Celebrity CL Wagon, had a 1987 Honda Accord LX-i for a week, believing it was the chariot that would take me to Portland. Then a syncro in the stickshift died in the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza and I was rescued by a 1990 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. It provided me a security blanket in a very very strange land.
It was a battering ram twice, once getting busted driver’s after a fight with the coupled man I carried an affair, then a second, more devastating time in front of the AirBnB. The second blow fully exposed the fact that, as an old Black man said, that Cadillacs had plastic (composite) fenders. How much it was a shame the the once standard of the world was reduced to tupperware parts. Weight savings? Cost cutting. I’d say the latter considering how the pull handles started to come out of their screws.
Eighteen miles from town
My old car broke down
The fan belt’s slipping
And the engine’s missing
Oh, what I’d give to be home
Resting my bones…..
I spent money once fixing the first dent. Then came the brakes and suspension work that needed to be done as the car approached 30. Then came the radiator. Then came the pass-key malfunction that left me stranded on a cold winter day. It started to leave me stranded again on 100 degree summer days, only a cold soda can on the ignition switch for 10 minutes could coax the computer controlled Cadillac into believing it wasn’t being hotwired.
The stalling started… I started searching for Corvairs.
Me and Frankie have been family for over a year now. She started with tantrums right away, throwing the infamous fan belt on Christmas Day, taking frail spark plug wires with it. As we collectively started to shelter in place, the alternator started to go. Between the anxiety of the collapse of society, I traced 55 years of botched electrical work, finally throwing up my hands, turning her over to a trusted mechanic to re-wire, and tune her to the fine as can be mechanical shape she could be.
Then, she was hit by a Prius in the driver’s door.
Window still works, I’ve been offered a new door skin, now seals are rotting, and the inevitable Corvair oil leaks from the oil pan show how little we drive in this world. Which doubles down the need to never, ever buy a new car.
Fifteen miles from town
My old car broke down
The battery’s dead
Man, like I said
Oh, what I’d give to be home…..
Alongside Frankie has been Lily, the only car Miles has ever driven on a regular basis, ever owned. Whose original Thriftpower Six gave up the Ghost this fall after being pressed into service after Public Transit got slashed, Lyft becoming prohibitively expensive and unreliable. Anyone who has a heart knows that a heart transplant can give a new lease on life. In a society where we throw away so much, where we rush, we could learn something from our old cars. How to maintain, how to recycle, how to rebuild until we find a truly sustainable alternative.