Cars are a little bit like pets. The years are not kind to either over the long run. The wear and tear begins to take a toll. They have less spring in their step, and moving around gets painful.
We notice the changes and hope for the best with a little more time together, but time waits for no one and no machine or pet. Sooner or later tough decisions have to be made and the pet or vehicle become a fond memory with a little heart-break when the decision to say goodbye is made at the end of the relationship.
It is essentially an ‘Old Yeller’ moment that forces people to move onward without a vital and fond link to their past. Sure we don’t typically have to shoot our pets like the young guy in the ‘Old Yeller’ movie, but we still have to take the final step in the circle of life for our cars or pets.
We had an email from a woman who was faced with the difficult task of a decision to get rid of her beloved 1978 Chevy Caprice station wagon. The car had been with her since she and her husband bought it as a low mileage demo on February 28 1979 from a GM dealership. She parted company with her beloved wagon on February 28 2013, exactly 34 years to the day it came into her family.
Station wagons were a few years away from execution by Lee Iaccoca mini-vans in 1979, so they were still the primary kid-haulers for most families in the late 70s in a Brady Bunch kind of way. This family was no exception and their $10,000-plus investment in the wagon was a sizable sum in 1979.
Her words: “The boys are now 40, 38 and 36. The husband took another road after 14 years while the car stayed with me and the boys for 34 years….the full distance to the present. The car was my most reliable partner in raising my three sons ..from nursery school to university years and beyond. Couldn’t have done it without the car and I will miss it dearly and always hoped that I could restore it eventually.”
That will not happen in this case. The grim prospect of an old car with many mechanical and body issues is an expensive reality for the woman. She has become a car guy by circumstance and loves her old friend the wagon because it represents a vital connection to her family and all of those fond memories associated with the car.
But the real world has crept into the equation and inflexible parking rules at her condo means that she had to get rid of her beloved wagon. She sees a lifetime of family memories in the wagon where others see a worn-out old vehicle, but the cold-blooded condo bylaw will win the day and the car that served her so well is a victim of a heartless regulation.
The car has been placed in the hands of a sympathetic car guy who labels himself as the “patron saint of unloved cars” to evaluate the future of the family legacy car. He wants to see whether he can save the car from death by crusher and I hope that the wagon gets a Walt Disney ending for this storyline – and not the Bambi’s mother kind.
For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com