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Old Car Gratitude

In 1996, I bought my first and only new car: a Pontiac Sunfire (see above for a picture of what she used to look like). I was young and bought the car because I fell in love with it. I mean, yes, I had read reviews, and yes, they were good. But ultimately it was the sporty-bright-red-moon-roof-spoiler-hotness of it all that sold me. I was in love, and it turned out to be a lasting one.

Today, this car is my husband’s. We bought a used Toyota Highlander in 2006 because pulling Braeden (who was then three) in and out of the Pontiac’s back seat was wreaking havoc on my back. A two-door car might seem hot in your 20’s, but when you’re in your 30’s and lugging a toddler around it loses much of its appeal. I wanted an SUV, badly. We got a good deal on the Highlander, and I have been happy ever since. I handed off the Pontiac to Chris with some regret, but it really was the only reasonable choice I could make. We had two springer spaniels and a toddler. The Sunfire just wasn’t designed with that scenario in mind.

About four years ago Chris was taking Braeden to his swim lesson and got sideswiped by a studio truck, the kind with ridiculous screws of death that jut out from the hubcaps. It mashed in the door and took off some of the side trim. Not pretty. What was worse was finding out the insurance company didn’t think the car merited repair, given its advanced age. We got a certain amount of money – not enough to replace the car with another reliable one – and had to go through the hassle of re-registering the car because in their eyes it had been declared dead. But it wasn’t dead; it still ran fine. It looked horrendous, but since our financial circumstances were already dubious we couldn’t justify paying for superficial repairs. It broke my heart to leave the car looking like no one loved her, but I had no choice.

The thing is, this car has had insanely few serious problems. It’s 18 years old, and has 150,000+ miles on it, but she continues to defy the odds. Her looks have faded. Many of the car’s plastic interior pieces have broken over time, and the steering wheel kind of… sheds. Little pieces of its rubber turn to dust when you touch it. Yes, she looks bad. But she runs, regardless. If anyone has any questions about the viability of American cars, they should give me a call. Seriously, this car has had fewer problems than any car I’ve had, or that my family has ever had. She deserves an award. Moreover, she deserves a facelift, and I wish I could give her one. Poor, sweet, loyal car.

Now that I’ve spoken about my gratitude for the car and the fact that she still runs, I’m convinced I should knock on wood until my knuckles bleed. I hope I’m not tempting fate here, but I figured the least I could do was offer up some public, well-deserved applause.

The picture posted is not my car – I just couldn’t do that to her. I’m sure somewhere I have a picture of her in her younger days, but I wouldn’t know where to look. This picture looks just like her. Beautiful, wasn’t she?

She’s still beautiful on the inside.