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Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Olds Man

My daughter totaled her car a few weeks ago. She wasn't hurt, so it was no big deal. In some ways it worked to our advantage. She was driving a 97 Nissan Pathfinder. It was a nice car, we had it for a few years, not too many problems with it at all. It had 120,000 miles or so, but a nice running car. The problem was it got about 4 miles to the gallon, if it was going down hill only! I don't know about where you are from, but gas has gone up a little in the Baltimore area. We decided to use this as a chance to get something a little more fuel efficient, a little more green, something that fits the times.

The last car we bought was a real jewel! We bought it from the daughter of an old neighbor of mine. Her father had passed away and she was getting rid of his car. It was a 95 Oldsmobile 98. A real classic! It has leather interior, power everything, and only 11,000 miles on it! Yeah baby, I said 11,000 miles! This was about 3 years ago when the car was almost 11 years old. You don't find many of those type of deals. There was a downside, the paint was falling off almost as fast as the black carriage top! It did however still have that new car smell, so it was a push. That was a bit of history to tell you how much of a car guy I am.

So we start the process of new car shopping. We knew we weren't looking for new cars, but we thought a nice used hybrid would be nice. Did you know a nice used hybrid cost a lot of money? I figured it would take us 75,000 miles for us to start saving money on gas! I know what you're thinking, it's not just about the cost of gas, what about the environment? I am always telling the kids about saving money, recycling, using less, making our own, and really meaning it. The problem is we have college tuition for her, bowling expenses and travel for him, and I am trying to figure out how to pay for it on a retiree's salary. Hybrids are out of the picture.

We decided we needed a nice compact car, something like a Corolla or Sentra. We asked the dude at the dealer how much the used ones were and we started laughing. Once we gathered our composure, we told him how funny he was, but really, how much? As we were leaving I remember thinking this is tougher than I thought. There has to be a car out there for us that doesn't cost as much as our first house and gets better gas mileage than a Sherman tank. Used compact cars are a no.

We see SUV's all over the place for sale, but they are no bargain cost wise, not to mention the gas. Maybe I have to lose the mind set of looking for a 1974 Dodge Dart for $400. I know they exist, I bought one, once. When was that, probably close to 10 years ago I would think? No, come to think of it more like 20 years ago would be right. Dream on! OK, I bought my first car 30 years ago, and if you could find that Dart now even that car would be worth more then I paid then! Bummer!

Hello there! Now that is a cute little car. It's even the same color as the Pathfinder was. We talked to the guy at the dealership and it was just what we were looking for! I nice smallish car, but not small. It has airbags, so it has safety equipment. He told us the color was the reason it hadn't sold, that and the fact it was an American car! What? Did this guy just tell me the car of my dreams was no good because it was American made? He sure had. I told him I'd take it! I was not going to stand there and listen to this guy bad mouth the United States of America, at least the auto industry part of it!

Like I said in the beginning, it all works out in the end. My daughter got a new car, a cute little 4 cylinder car that while not a hybrid, is definitely better on gas then the Pathfinder. It is solid all ways around. The body is good, engine too. Front wheel drive and roomy to boot. There's one thing about it that puts us in a class probably with only a few families on the east coast. I bet you will have a hard time finding a family that is driving not only one, but two cherry Oldsmobiles! If I can find an Olds dealer I may go buy a new one tomorrow!


Slammermike said...

We seem to have similar experiences with cars. My first car was a used 1963 Mercury Comet. It cost $300 in 1971. The only good about that car was that it was mine and it taught me how to repair cars to a degree. I spent more time pushing that car than driving it. It didn't last long but it served its purpose.

My second car was an Old also. It was a 1967 F-85, which was a stripped down Cutlass basically. I bought it in 1972 for $700. It was a real deal. The seller thought it was a 1965 sold priced it on that assumption when it was actually a '67. That was without a doubt the best car I ever owned. It served me well in my senior year of high school and through college. I had that car until 1977. It had over 200,000 rough miles on it when I traded it. That car had real guts. It could get up and go. It had 480 air conditioning (roll all 4 windows down and go 80 MPH), an AM radio and I installed an 8 track player with great speakers. My parents could hear me coming about a block away. I guess that is why I don't hear so well now.

Those were some great cars in their own way. Thinking back the best part about them is that they were mine. I bought both of the cars myself. My parents knew about them but if I wanted a car it was my responsibility. I found out there was more to a car than buying it. There was the insurance, gas, tires (Wards always had used tires for a few bucks)and then the repairs. Even the Olds helped me learn about cars. I spent a lot of time fixing them.

They were simpler times. The 2 cars cost me $1,000. Gas was .30 a gallon. I was making about $2.25 an hour and didn't have a care in the world except where I was going to go and would the car get me there and home.

Now I sound like my father.

awb said...

Yeah man, that Dart was great! I used to have to start it with pliers. I got rid of it in 1983 when I took a job that gave me a monthly mileage check. I went right out and bought my first new car. Wish I had that to do over again!