I had something very unusual happen to me last week: I got a new car and I wasn’t happy about it. Don’t get me wrong, I like my new car but I loved my old one. Why Ellie? Why did you have to approach a hundred thousand miles so soon?
I know many people push their babies way past 100k on the odometer but for peace of mind, since we have to travel four to six hours one way to visit our families, we agreed that I’d drive my vehicles for a hundred thousand miles.
After I lost Ellie to the evil car traders, I spent a lot of time wondering what made her so special compared to other cars I’ve owned? It might help to know my car history.
My first car was a 1980 Chevy Camaro, gray with red leather interior and a red pinstripe to match. I was seventeen years old and the year was 1992. I hated that car with a passion…until my best friend drove me to school in it. At the end of the day, all of the boys were in the parking lot admiring my wheels. Everyone wanted to drive it and ride in it. It was fast and the dual glasspack made it sound as tough as it looked.
It was a good car for a while, even after the a/c broke followed by the door handles. Playing the “Duke boys” is only fun for so long. But on the up side, I could listen to all of my dad’s old eight tracks as I cruised the back roads with both windows down.
I took my first paycheck from my first job out of college and went straight to the car dealer where I leased a Mazda 626, white with tan leather interior. I loved that car. It had air conditioning and a sunroof. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. I kept the roads hot around Atlanta and to South Georgia and back. Amazingly, I didn’t exceed my mileage.
Of all my cars, my husband guessed the 626 would have been my favorite. I told him it was a lease. I wasn’t ready for a serious commitment when I got it so when the time came, it was easy to let it go. It was during my whirl with the 626 that I met my husband. He called it the RBC (Rich B**ch Car) because it had a whole herd inside.
When we set our wedding date, he traded his Nissan 240 for a Ford Explorer. I guess he was thinking “family car.” The funny thing was that when my Mazda lease was up, he decided I should drive the Explorer and he should get a pickup truck. It turned out he didn’t like the Explorer and neither did I. We called it the “Exploder” because of a tire blowout problem that occurred in the nineties.
My next ride was a Volkswagon Jetta, white with tan leather interior. I loved that car too, except for when I got stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge. It was a five speed manual transmission with turbo. It would scoot. About five years into my relationship with the Jetta, it started having expensive problems. That was when I decided that the Whites wouldn’t drive German cars unless we hit the lotto (which we don’t play).
That’s when I met the love of my car life. Ellie was a Honda Element or “toaster on wheels” as my husband called her. She wasn’t fancy, no leather, no sunroof…but she fit me somehow. Practical, bare bones, no frills, plenty of head room and leg room—sounds like me, right? She carried me nearly a hundred thousand miles without any trouble at all. I was disappointed when I heard Honda quit making Elements. If it’s possible to have a kindred car, she was mine.
As I sat at the car dealership with my husband hammering out a deal for a new car, I cried unexpectedly. They asked me to clean my things out of Ellie and I almost told them to shove it. I watched them drive her away until I couldn’t see her anymore. I kept telling myself the tears were PMS but they weren’t. Ellie was an important part of my life for seven years. It was a sad goodbye.
I know I am very blessed to be able to have and drive a new car. The new one definitely rides more smoothly on the rough roads near where I live. I think the new one does everything but make the coffee so it’ll take me a while to figure it out. “Lottie” is growing on me and I hope she’ll be as faithful as Ellie was.
Have you ever had a love affair with a car?