My pants still fit me from college.
Well, they are sweatpants after all.
They were given to me by a friend of mine who is known as a “Datsunaholic”. He keeps a few old cars. A few of those models have been written up by Paul Niedermeyer who now keeps a lot of houses along with his new web site. He invariably finds ‘keeper folk’ from all walks of life. But most of the people he finds are not car enthusiasts at all.
Why do they keep these cars then? Are they perhaps hoarders? Do they suffer the afflictions of the wantless?
Or is this just another write-up inspired by Kevin Bacon?
No, they are just keepers. They find what they need. A car about yay big. In blue. There. Done. They then go on about their lives avoiding the debt and the down payment in a way that gives guys like Dave Ramsey so much sanctimony. In rich times they’re sometimes looked up as hermits and miserable misers. In poor times they lead by example. But most of the time they are just ignored and blend right in. But that nagging question remains. Why do these people not buy cars?
Well… the keeper of old cars comes in many forms.
The Junkyard Dog – He can tell you the exact locations of every vehicle he uses at the junkyard to keep his ride going.
“The Volvo 740 right next to the 940 SE at Jason’s Junk Emporium is a white wagon with the removed engine and no seats. What a beaut! I removed all the bulbs off of that one and even the wiring harness which looks to be nearly brand new . The flex disc came straight from Groton and…”
This guy is into his ride like Elliot Spitzer is into hookers.
The Quality Guru: The shocks are from Bilstein. The wheels are AMGs. The brakes are Brembos. The oil is Amsoil and the oil filter can also be used as a breathing apparatus in the event of a major disaster.
Yes, the car we’re describing may be nothing more than an under-engineered Mercedes from the seventh circle of hell. But hey! It is dealer maintained. The sheetmetal is given a full regimen of Mother’s every month. The seats and carpet are steam cleaned at the local auto spa.
Usually these folks are either hopelessly divorced or terminally single.
The Tinker-er-er-er: The inside of his garage is an endless maze of gondola board and special tools that were designed only for one car and one purpose. That is to enable this owner to install anything he wants whenever he wants.
This guy has a custom lift, four jacks, a pair of aces, three welders, and several bookshelves loaded with manuals. When you want something done cheap and right, he’ll be able to help you…. once he completes his projects. In a few months or so… if you’re lucky…
The Tightwad Husband: This is the guy who spends an evening or two a month performing spreadsheets and budgets. He inevitably breaks down the cost of nearly every automotive expenditure to it’s finest elements.
“Motor oil you say? Why, take the $10 Quaker State online rebate and find the nearest Autozone that’s doing $1.99 / quart closeout for synthetic. Then…”
Oh damnit! My wife wrote this while I was replacing a compact florescent upstairs. I’ll keep it Susan. Thanks!
The Broke: The tires may be more bald than Mr. Clean and all the leaking oils make the car smell like Seacaucus. But hey, it runs.
Often times these cars will have half empty bottles of fluid wedged under the bonnet for easy access. There is almost always a paper cone next to the coolant resevoir, and what’s that wire hanger there? Oh, that’s to help keep the duct tape in place so that the front of the car… still attaches to the rest of the car.
The Bum: He hasn’t done a damn thing since 1987. When the parents, brothers, and relatives are nearly done with their car but don’t quite want to sell it outright, they give it to him.
Within a year or two the creme puff turns into a pile of refuse destined for China.
The Content Folk: They don’t know much about cars. Oil for them should be changed every 3k at most and if the mechanic advises them about a defective Johnson valve, they go “Uh huh!” and write a check.
Thankfully these folks enjoy two unique qualities. They find good independent mechanics and they tend to be easy going with the machinery. Since the car fits them like a good pair of, sweatpants, they go about their lives without thinking about cars. Pity the fools.
The Conserver: His slogan is, “Better dead, than revved.” This is the owner who pulses, glides and coasts to nearly every stop sign and red light. Regardless of the manical driving habits that surround his frugal ride.
The engine for their car will never see the north side of 3000 rpm’s, and the exterior is always given cover from the elements. Even if the car is now old enough to order its own tall one. The conserver wants to get just enough out of it so that their kids can have a cheap ride, and maybe his future grandkids too.
The Conserver also knows how to time his daily commute. Right down to the changing of the traffic signals, and the unyieldable momentum needed to put the car in the same parking space with minimal pressure on the gas and brake pedals.
Grands: As they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “ I’m not dead yet! “ Of course the double yellow line is a mere suggestion and the nearby shopping cart haulers at the supermarket keep a wide perimeter when ‘they’ come around.
The car is driven about 35 miles a week and it’s all dinged out.
Dings from curbs. Dings from doors, walls, and at least a dozen people. Constant ding sounds from keys left in the ignition. Ding sounds from the door left open. In fact, the car has encountered so much dinging over the years that the ding buzzer doesn’t even work anymore.
For those honored elderly who still drive classic Cadillacs and Lincolns, please replace the ‘ding’ with the ‘dong’.