By on May 17, 2013

300m1

Years ago, I was paid to help a neighbor clean out his garage. It was an old, ramshackle building with a dirt floor and over the years it had been filled with an amazing amount of crap. At the very back, under a canvas tarp, I found a long neglected late 60s Honda CB750 in fairly rough condition. When I asked about it, my neighbor told me how, as a younger man, he had purchased the bike new and travelled the highways and byways of the American West for many years before finally coming home a settling down to start a family. To him, it was an icon of his youth and a time of freedom. To my young eyes, however, it was just a neglected old bike covered in dirt and cobwebs, found forgotten, alone and unloved and condemned to spend its remaining years as a lifeless touchstone of another time. It struck me as a particularly sad end to a life of service and I decided then that no vehicle of mine would ever languish its remaining life away in a barn or under a cover.

It was the arrival of my third child that sparked my family’s need for a bigger vehicle. Up to that point we had been fine with my Chrysler and the Pontiac Torrent I had purchased for my wife after our return from Japan. Both cars had a pair of car seats in the back for our two older kids, but neither proved to be wide enough to add a the necessary third seat. It was obvious we needed a minivan and I soon began a long search that netted us the Ford Freestar that I have written about on these pages before. With my wife firmly ensconced in her new mommy mobile, the low mileage Torrent that had previously been hers became my daily driver and the Chrysler slipped to the side of the drive where it sat snug and secure under its cover as the Buffalo winter swept towards us.

300M

The following year, whenever the weather looked nice, I rolled the Chrysler out of its spot from time to time for various work-related jaunts around Western New York. I took it to work on the nicest days and at other time used it for those few, infrequent errands that didn’t involve carting a kid around. It was nice to have and I used it a few times while our van went to the shop but for the most part, it simply sat and waited. That autumn, as inspection time rolled around, I found that I had put a grand total of four thousand miles on the clock. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a long unused synapse fired and a memory of a rusty, sad-looking motorcycle flashed into my consciousness. I pushed the vision back into its place and, with another winter on the horizon, slipped the Chrysler back into its place at the side of the drive way and secured its cover.

The memory continued to work at me, however, and the site of the car hunkered down under its cover and covered in autumn leaves, then snow and finally the yellow pollen of a new spring, gnawed at me. A few weeks ago, I took the car out, prepped it for the summer and doted on it as usual but the seed that had been planted last fall had grown large enough that events had crossed the tipping point. I made a last work related road trip three weeks ago and upon my return posted an ad to Craigslist.

I asked too much money but, regardless, someone responded quickly. Our first conversation went well and the interested party, a man named John, seemed like a good guy, Even better he had spent much of his life in Arizona, where I had purchased the car after my return from Japan in 2010, and he knew the dealership in question. What sealed the deal was when he and his wife arrived to check out my car and I saw he was driving his own less-than-Special Chrysler 300M.

There was tire kicking, a look under the hood, a test drive and a conversation but surprisingly little haggling. John and I are men of a similar type, I learned, and he knew exactly what he was buying. Maybe it was more expensive than every other 300M in Western New York, but it was truly unique and, like me, John was smitten as soon as he slipped behind the wheel. He thought about it overnight and, after working out the finances, came back on Wednesday evening with his cashier’s check. We swapped another story or two as we wrapped up the paperwork and then he opened the door, sunk down into the seat and started the engine. The car burbled at idle as he adjusted the seat, the mirrors and took a moment to survey his purchase. He slipped the car into gear, pulled the parking brake and then, slowly, majestically, the 300M slipped slowly down the drive, onto the street and out of my life forever.

The logical side of me knows that machines are things to be used up and discarded. If a person is especially devoted to regular service and maintenance they can stretch the lifespan of a given vehicle well beyond the norm. If they have the necessary mechanical skill, or the money to access those who do, they can keep a machine running indefinitely. But if a person lacks the time or interest to do the maintenance, make the repairs or even drive a vehicle then there can be only one, ultimate result. If, as I have often posited in my articles, cars really do have souls, the deserve better than to be held prisoner of a man’s past. They deserve a chance to live out their lives in the sun, with the wind streaming over them, the road rushing towards them and the miles falling away behind. Godspeed.

300m2

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

64 Comments on “The Tipping Point...”


  • avatar
    Mykl

    Sad day. You should have sold the Pontiac.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I had a similar thought, but in snow country you need a solid beater. The Torrent being newer (and possibly having things like AWD or traction control) makes a better choice than a cherry 300M. Plus as he said, he wanted a better life for it than a Buffalo beater.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Your writing is very familiar, almost as if everyone was sitting at a bar and you were telling a story. I’m also sad to see the 300M go, I feel as if *I* sold it.

    “The logical side of me knows that machines are things to be used up and discarded.”

    I too know this, but I tend to run things until it becomes not economically viable. I’m not big on change, and if a system of any kind meets my specs I don’t see a need to replace it (unless of course the specs change, i.e. you with your wife’s van need). I look at the technology world of which I am part and can’t fathom the constant need for upgrades, especially when so little changes (other than to keep the revenue cycle going of course).

    • 0 avatar

      Truth be told there are a few economic issues at work here too. I have an overseas transfer coming up next year and we still don’t know where we will end up. We can only ship one car and it will have to haul us all for the next few years. With that on the horizon, I looked at the car, realized it was going to need $1000 worth of tires in the next season or two, is due for a preventative timing belt replacement and at 89K miles is gettig close to that 100K psychological threshold that makes some people think a car is worthless. By acting now I knew I could maximize my sell price and get the maximum amount of my money back.

      Plus, this time next year I’m going to be selling the house, the other two rigs all while packing our stuff up and hoping we are under the weight threshold. Sad as it is, it was time to act.

      With all that in mind, by the way, if anyone in Western New York needs a kick ass Nautilus weight machine I have a deal for you. Owned 10 years, only used as a clothes rack for the last 9…

  • avatar
    Timothy

    Thomas, as always, great article. I firmly believe that machines have “soul”, cars especially. It’s odd to form an attachment to a machine, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t fallen in love with a few cars in my life. Something about special cars… they just gets at you.

    • 0 avatar
      james2k

      I’m with you Timothy. Rationally, I know cars are just machines. A metal, glass, and rubber “thing.” I’ve learned over time that it’s usually a bad idea to covet things. However, there’s just something magical about a car. Perhaps it’s the freedom they afford and all the memories of places, people, and events wrapped up in them. My car took me to my wedding in North Carolina, moved with me to New York, it carried me up the PCH from Los Angeles to Oregon, she was with me when I moved Hawaii, and she followed me back to California. Does my old e39 M5 have a soul? You’re damn right she does. She may be a little grey at the temples but she’s mine and it will be a sad, sad day when I have to give her up.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Not to mention what your machine can do for your soul. Sometimes I go into my garage and slip the key in the door of my first car ever, get in and start her up. Pumping the gas to get started, a foot actuated high beam switch with a red hi beam indicator…and remember what life was like for me in 1982…a quick step on the gas to bring down the revs, which decay immediately unlike today’s cars…it feels good. Then comes the tug of reality, with all the demoralizing aspects of the workplace, and other responsibilities….the key comes out and the car goes silent. Yet I get out feeling better than when I went in. You either get this or you don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Compaq Deskpro

          I don’t, what is the car and why don’t you drive it out of the garage and let it stretch its legs?

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            I can guess: no longer registered or insured, out of round tires from sitting up all the time; cranky transmission….

            When the shop brought the Goose to life after four years of sitting up; they found the gas tank, float and pump rusted out from the inside by moisture retained by the ethanol in the gas. One of the tires gave out; and I ended up replacing all five; three injectors also had to be replaced.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            It’s just a 72 Fury; not special except for me. My name for the car is Iacocca. Meaningful from that time in my life. I always wanted to get plates back then that said PRE-LEE. And yes, it is insured with collector insurance. Barely over $100 a year. It cost more to register it. So I do take it out on occasion. I already learned my lesson on bad gas – getting rid of 8 gallons of stinky fuel was kinda hard until I decided to burn it a quart at a time in my work car. But time is always so tight that more frequent trips don’t happen. But still, even those short trips do wonders for the head…

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            I wish I had a like button on here…what size engine does it have?

            My first car was a 1974 Plymouth Fury II; an ex-company car with the rubber plugs in the roof and trunk and a 360. Named the “Bluesmobile” for obvious reasons, we had a great time with it until a mechanic caught it on fire during a test drive after doing A/C work to it. Many happy memories; though it did handle like the proverbial barge; and got 10 MPG in the city. I much rather have a long term relationship with the Blue Goose; but I know exactly what you are talking about; I get the same feeling everytime I slip behind HER wheel and plug in the iphone to list to the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers and other soundtracks from that era.

  • avatar
    yesthatsteve

    You made the right choice, and Fate smiled on you to bring you the right buyer.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Another fine work Mr. Kreutzer.

    Now that one dream has ended, you can allow another to bloom though. One day that Torrent will need to be replaced with something…

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    Great article, and in my head I absolutely agree with you.

    And then I walk out into my garage and look at my much loved Ducati 916 attached to life support, up on race stands, and covered with a slight sheen of dust that says “I have not been ridden in nearly a year.”

    In truth, I know that it is a bike for someone younger (and more daring) than me. Clearly I could use the money for some other purpose, and the new owner would be sure to take it to the track and use it as God intended. It isn’t fair that one of motorcycledom’s finest creation is hidden in a private garage, unseen and unused.

    Yeah, I get that. But it just doesn’t matter. Memories are great, but just like powerball, thinking about what could be is just as important.

    I think I’ll keep it.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Was the sale a condition of writing for TTAC? hahaha kidding. Nice car.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Man, what timing.

    I’ve been working on my old CJ7 all week long. I bought it in college, and fixed it up, but over the past few years it’s been neglected. Mainly due to where I live now, and my awful commute to work. Plus, with six cars in total, it doesn’t get driven much.

    I’ve thought of selling it, but my wife said she’d be upset to see me do that. So, this year I’m going to make an effort to tie-up the loose ends on it. I’ve spent all morning cleaning it up, it looks great. Going to drive it to work today; the first time it’s seen the road since last September or October.

  • avatar

    Tomas, great, great writng. Your style is touching and strikes a deep chord in me. I felt sad reading about that big car going.

    Thanks

  • avatar
    hanesj75

    Nice story, Thomas – I always enjoy reading your work. I agree with “28″ that I felt a tug at reading your story that it was almost like *I* was the one selling it.

    I have a rational side that sees a machine as a machine, much like you – but I also tend to irrationally anthropomorphize inanimate objects – such that a car “living out its life” rather than just “waiting” under a cover definitely speaks to that side of me. Glad to see it’s not just me (my wife thinks it is). :)

  • avatar
    ajla

    “…deserve better than to be held prisoner of a man’s past. They deserve a chance to live out their lives”

    I agree with you in theory, but you got a good buyer for your car.

    How would you feel knowing that Grandma’s prized Lincoln is going to be turned into a donk or the Ranger you owned for 15 years is going to become a stripped-out mud truck?

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    A friend of mine also sold recently 300M Special. His was dark blue on black. Living in a rust belt (Southern Ontario) age was taking toll on the vehicle. Car was purchased as a Repo with 90,000km and sold with a little over 200,000km. In that time it had a fair share of problems from sunroof track rusting out (replaced with a junk yard part from LHS) to governor in the transmission to rear suspension needing to be welded twice! 19″ rims and horrid Toronto roads were no help. But always took good care of it and used only Mobil 1 with K&N oil filter every 6,000km and all other necessary maintenance.

  • avatar
    Onus

    I know the feeling. I’ve been trying to scrap out one of my pickups. Just taking all the good parts off is taking way too long. I hate seeing the thing sit there just waiting to die.

    I am never parting something out again!

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Great column as usual, Thomas. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad your cherished vehicle found a great new home.

    I too feel the same way about the stored car idea and definitely believe in driving cars I own at least semi-regularly. Obviously something like a parts car is different, but there’s probably someone who can better use any car I’m not driving.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’m trying to save an abandoned mid-70s El Camino project car from rusting into the ground.

    Perfectly willing to sell my Buick for an El Camino.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Mr. Kreutzer:

    This story touched a very deep nerve. Really, my account belongs over at Curbside Classic, but here goes:

    Come July 10, it will be 40 years ago that I sold my incredibly beautiful Goldwood yellow 1964 Chevy Impala SS convertible. I was still in the air force at the time for another month. I bought this car on Friday, June 19, 1970. Three years and three weeks later, it was gone. Sold to a sergeant who bought it for his daughter for $625.00. I paid $800.00 and put a couple thousand into it over the time I owned it.

    That was the coolest set of wheels I would ever own and I regret selling it to this day. However, at the time, I had to make hard choices in my life.

    The car was a California car and I was stationed out there. My home was in the St. Louis area and I knew full well that it couldn’t last too long in the salt-laden winter streets, and being only 22 years old, living back home (that REALLY hurt) I didn’t have the resources to preserve such a vehicle and afford a daily driver while going to school and only working part-time.

    I vaguely knew I would never again own something so special as that car, as NOTHING on the market today can match the elegance and fanciness of that car. It really was that good, as I took exceedingly good care of it – my “girlfriend” for those three years – no regrets about that at the time…

    Of course some would say I’m remembering through a rose-colored memory, but my memory about that car is very clear and accurate.

    I have missed that car ever since, especially since my wife, whom I met in 1975 OWNED A CAR JUST LIKE IT! Her car was also yellow with black interior. Only differences was that hers was not a Super Sport and had a white top, whereas mine was black.

    Several years ago, we looked seriously into buying a 1964 Impala convertible – but not after we found out that prices were in the stratosphere!

    Unfortunately, it will remain a dream unfulfilled.

    I know that sergeant’s daughter didn’t appreciate that car!

    Funny that your story came out now, so close to my certain “anniversary”!

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for sharing. This is still a slightly raw nerve right now, but I know from experience that life moves on. Because we move so often, I knew when I bought it that at best I might only get a couple of years out of it. I’ve been on borrowed time for the past year and real life is begining to reassert itself.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Zackman…I guess thats the upside of getting older. You can look back on the decisions you made. They might have been the wrong thing to do at the time. However we still did it.

      Now if a guy was to discover a 64 SS Convert. sitting under a tarp in a dusty but dry garage. Wow! big bucks today.

      The older I get the more I think of decisions I made that didn’t work out so well,or could of gone a lot better.

      Us older guys just accept it and move on eh?

      BTW.. Hope you still loving that 300hp Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Hey Mikey! How are you?

        Moving on, indeed, and not glancing much in the rear view mirror anymore – too much to look forward to.

        Yes, I’m still loving my 2012 – already 20,000 miles since late July, but even though this is the most deluxe ride I have ever owned, nothing beats the “soul” of the classics!

        New cars – from the 90′s on have become antiseptic due to many things, but the upside is they have become extremely reliable, so I suppose that’s the price we pay…

        • 0 avatar
          grandprix

          Zackman, my story is very similar to yours except I had a ’57 Chevy Bel Air hardtop.It was in good “driver” condition but I was young then & didn’t have the resources to put into the car.I also needed a vehicle to drive all year long.Getting married forced me to sell my baby. I sold it to a dentist who was giving it to his 16 year old son!
          Good thing I have many positive memories.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Good work Thomas. My wife no longer drives,and we have three cars. Two of them need to be parked in the winter. With both of them in the garage,space is tight.

    Common sense,tells me I should sell the Mustang. I just spent a lot of money on the suspension. The brakes, and tires, are all good it runs great. With the low KLM’s,I could get a good dollar for it. I’m the last guy in the world you could call a hoarder. I waited, and searched a long time for that Mustang. I’m just not ready to part with it.

  • avatar
    david42

    I think many TTAC readers will feel the same as I do: sad for Thomas, but relieved that a beloved car found a loving home.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great story Thomas!

    I buy a car every 12-15 years or so. When I bought my Trooper in 2001 I wasn’t in a position to keep my high mileage ’88 Nissan. I was sad to see it go, but knew it was headed to Central or South America for many more years of worthy duty.

    My Trooper is at 225k, and while I’ve dumped maybe $6-8k into it the last 3 years (transmission, front end, water pump, etc), it’s time to move on, yet my “adventure mobile” as my daughter says still needs to be part of the family. I’m very fortunate we can send it up to my famiy’s place for summer and Christmas vacation duty…

    Anyway, kudos for ‘setting your car free’ to well serve someone else…

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    Great story. Reminds me of the (very sad) day when I sold Reginald Wolfcastle III (Range Rover) and my girlfriend at the time actually cried.
    More recently, it reminds me of trading in my beloved Shirley (a 328i) for something with lower operating costs to be able to move into the right house for our family.
    After a while I started treating cars like ex-girlfriends- make sure you remember what was going through your mind the DAY you decided you were going to sell it (remembering that rusty old bike). Any time you have doubts, remember that moment where you decided to sell. Has that changed? I miss my 328 terribly, but it’s much more important to give my wife (and kids, soon) the right home.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    My eventual delimia is the opposite (though there is nothing I can do about it right now): do I continue to put 25-30,000 miles a year on the Blue Goose as a DD until it is used up; or relegate it to garage queen? It is approaching 170k, but unlike the toys in Toy Story, it won’t last “to infinity and beyond.” I will definitely shed some tears when it’s time is up.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Part of what makes the car special is from the actual time behind the wheel, sometimes from the quality of the time, and sometimes just from where the car came from, which if I remember correctly would likely apply the the ‘goose…You know, if salt and the elements can be avoided, the car can last pretty much as long as you want. Rust is the killer, and Taurus/Sables will require some welding on the front subframe when the rust eats away the steel under the rubber donut…never mind the nonsense that the engine falls out of the car. The rear passenger side is usually the one that breaks free first as it gets A/C condensate as well as rain and salt. You will also have to change the rear links that locate the rear suspension as the washers that butt against the members rust away. These can be had from SHO Source.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Thanks golden2huskey. It is becoming due for new pads and rotors; have new brake hoses to install as well. My mechanic & I will check out the subframe then; and brush some pot-15 on it.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Thomas, great article. I enjoy your writing. This touched a nerve, as I recently, reluctantly sold my 2004 Saab 9-5 Aero to a fellow Saab nut. I felt a deep connection to this car; it “fit” me in every way. I did a lot of the maintenance myself, and I was familiar with every quirk and imperfection.

    It was sold for financial reasons, as my wife and I decided she would leave her job and stay home with our children. Managing on one income meant sacrifices, and the Saab had just crested the magical 100K mark. Although a steadfastly reliable car, it would need things – tires, brakes, exhaust – within the next few months. And with Saab’s parts business on shaky ground, I started to hear rumblings of parts unavailability, price gouging, etc.

    So I decided to get out while I could and found a fellow Saab loyalist much braver than I. I ended up purchasing a 2013 Mazda6 with manual transmission, and while a worthy, fun car in its own right, it doesn’t “fit” me quite like the Saab did. Maybe some day.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thomas ;

    FINALLY ! after a month , i get a new message from you .

    This one is a corker .

    I hope all is well , your new deployment is to your liking and your literary pencil remains sharp and on target .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      You still haven’t been getting TTAC articles? I hope that is fixed now.

      I’ve been laid low this week by a case of the flu but am on the mend now. Now I just have a week’s worth of yardwork to catch up on.

      My next assignment is definitely coming but I won’t have a bid list until this summer and a decision until late this winter. I expect this next one may be rougher than what I have become accustomed to of late, but my first assignment was rough and I flourished there. No worries, often the less traveled places offer more interesting modes of transport and better fodder for stories. I shall endeavour to overcome.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Once more into the breach ! .

        I agree about those off the path places , everywhere I travel , I find interesting vehicles and of course , those wonderful JUNKYARDS full of stuff I can’t find Stateside ~ SWMBO is always patient when I find say , a Moto cycle junkyard in Jamaica and spend some sweet time pawing through the rusty greasy junk finding treasures .

        -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        Thomas,

        Excellent article and it is wonderful to see a fellow Western New Yorker writing for this site.

  • avatar
    buffknut

    I still miss my 1967 Mustang although it was in pretty rough shape when I sold it for $150!

    Thomas, love your stories and as a life long Buffalonian, felt it was kind of cool to know that a local guy is writing for one of my favorite websites.

    Best wishes to you wherever you are headed and feel welcome to have some wings and a Molsons if you ever move back!

    • 0 avatar

      Well, just to make it clear I actually won’t be going anywhere until around this time next year. I’m just beginning to clear the decks for what I know is coming – been there, done that.

      Even so, Buffalo has been a great place to come home to. If I have the chance, I’ll be back.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    I always thought those 300′s were absolutely gorgeous, and I’m glad to see it went to some one who will take good care of it. Hopefully, some day, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy such a lovely car again.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Great story Thomas!

    About 12 weeks ago I came to a similar conclusion about my 2001 Audi TT.

    Whilst I love driving it, it is never driven enough. My job moved last year and I now have a 7 mile commute. Cars needs exercise. Stuff deteriorates , rubber seals dry up, batteries go flat, window regulators start to stick. $700 a year insurance,+ $1000 depreciation etc etc. Time to check out!

    So I did all the minor maintenance items and had a friend touch up the paint this week.

    This weekend , it’s a 200+ mile road-trip in the mountains to say good-bye with only my tunes to keep me company.

    It will be on Craigslist next weekend.

  • avatar
    56BelAire

    Tom,

    Thanks for another great story. You are a great story teller and I love your writing style. I hope you are working on a book/novel.

    I’ve written before about my Dad’s 67Pontiac(Avatar) which I now own. I know I will go to my eternal rest with that car in my garage, I could never sell it. Just hope one of my sons want it when I’m gone.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Nice view of the reality of life with an ‘old friend’….
    Once, my pride and joy,my 1989 SHO Taurus now spends most days languishing in the driveway waiting,and waiting,and waiting for a start up and a ride ANYWHERE!!!
    She/he has found a new purpose as my kayak/sailboat tow vehicle,since neither of my BMW`s have a hitch!
    Not much of a ride…but it doesn’t seem to bother her. and a WOT is kinda hard to do pulling a trailer!!

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    Good story Thomas. I can definitely relate. I tend to run my cars until they’re just about used up, then sell them. Usually I’m happy just to find a buyer and I’m ready to see them go… until they or I am driving away and I’m seeing my car for the last time. Then it hits me. All the things that happened in my life while I owned it, the trips I took with friends and family, all the time and effort spent to keep it in good shape. It’s easier when you know it’s going to a good home, but you still wonder what ever happened to them years later. I know they’re just cars. But for enthusiasts like us, they almost seem like a family member.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    I can relate in a different way. I had a 96 Miata that I bought new and had for 16 years. Only drove it in good weather and put about 6k miles a year on it. Replaced the stock black top with a sweet tan one, nice stereo, etc. But practicalities were catching up. I’m 16 years older and getting in and out and working the top from inside were getting harder, and it was developing age related problems like the airbag module failing. I was toying with selling it when fate intervened…on a wet day I power oversteered it into a guardrail turning onto an on ramp. Damage wasn’t that bad and I drove it away from the accident but given the age and low value of the car including damage to the costly popup headlight system it was totalled. Insurance gave me full retail value which I could not have got with the airbag light illuminated. So practically it was for the best. But I did shed a tear watching it be taken away on a flatbed that also had a smashed up Prius on it.

    It would have been better to go to someone who would love it but I wouldn’t have got full value that way. I only hope a Lemons racing team or auto crosser ended up with it, perhaps for parts.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    …..But I did shed a tear watching it be taken away on a flatbed….

    IT. That speaks volumes. When you are truly attached to your ride you never say that.

  • avatar
    AFX

    Thomas, I think I found a replacement car for your 300M:

    http://pennstate.craigslist.org/cto/3764280995.html

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    Hi, Thomas – this is the 300M Special owner from NYSpeed. Never did get a chance to hop on and comment no your articles so this is a bittersweet time to do so.

    Being a former Buffalonian with an M Special, I can attest to the tire usage. Mine ate up its first set of 245/45/18ZRs in a year and a half. The low ground clearance didn’t help much in the lake effect storms, and thanks to the more aggressive gearing, she doesn’t win many fuel endurance championships. But for one reason or another, as they say, “I just can’t quit you.”

    My ’02 has just over 100K on the clock, and still logs miles for me in the fair weather months in the Finger Lakes. Rust free thanks to Carwells and a Delta Sonic subscription. When I read your posts on this particular car, you remind me of myself, pawing breathlessly through endless Autotrader searches, finding the perfect black-on-black low-mileage example… and the joy, the victory of finding “THE right car.” Thanks for that.

    I hope that someday soon you’ll be able to find another ride that won’t ever have to spend its life under a tarpaulin. Maybe it’ll be another Special – maybe it’ll just be something special.

    In closing, here’s a recent pic of mine (provided I do the linking right), fresh inside from a quick rainstorm. I’ve changed the wheels and did some other minor modifications but in the end it’s the same car as your Special. Keep up the exceptional work, and for Pete’s sake, someone take the “future writers” tag off his title because TTAC has a winner here. Cheers man!

    http://www.supermotors.net/getfile/973900/original/20130410_172143.jpg

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks, man! I’m glad to see you posting over here once in a while! If I get back out this way later this year I will make it a plan to drop you a note and come check out your 300.

      Selling my car is something I have been kicking a round for a good, long while. I don’t think I would have let it go if John hadn’t been just the right buyer. I expect that the car will be around Western New York for many, many years to come. I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that he had ordered a full set of factory rebuild manuals to go with the car. He’s a good guy and I know the car passed to someone who will love it the same way I have.

      I still come over the NY Speed from time to time, BTW, I just don’t have much to comment on.

  • avatar
    AFX

    This is one of those stories that leaves me wondering why some people find certain cars attractive. I remember the 300M when it first came out, and I never paid that much attention to it, it just wasn’t anything special enough to “light my fire” as they say. There’s 3 of these cars in my local Craigslist ads listed as beaters for under $2,000, and that’s pretty much all I’d see the 300M as, just an ordinary sedan to be used as a daily driver.

    The amazing thing to me about this story is that somebody actually went out of their way to find a car like this one. I always see cars listed in the local ads either as low mileage original examples of plain jane cars of their time that somebody took extra special care of, or some plain jane car that was given an expensive restoration. I always think to myself why would anybody go out of their way to save one of those, or why waste all that money to restore an ordinary car.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Believe it or not, a car does not have to be an uber luxury or sports car to develop a fondness and sense of attachment to it.

      Golden2husky is right. I remember when the first of the “jellybean cars” came out in 1980s; including the Audi 5000s and the Ford Taurus. Heck, I can still remember when I saw one for the first time; it was a 5000s sitting in a driver thru line; looking like a spaceship among the crease-and-tuck cars in line with it. I was in college at the time studying mechanical engineering with hopes of entering aerospace engineering; the jellybean cars along with the space shuttle were a symbol of the hope I had in the future.

      The Blue Goose, a ’95 Taurus wagon, was bought new by my Dad for my Mom. It has survived the two of them; and now, it has survived four close encounters with tornadoes – one that came within mere feet of it during Hurricane Rita, a tornado that formed over our house on April 23, 2008, and went on to damage homes and businesses to the NE, the tornadoes that struck the DFW area on April 3, 2012, and now the tornadoes that struck within a few miles of it last Wednesday.

      We should have scrapped it when the engine block was freeze cracked just a week after moving it to our new home after Rita. We had the engine rebuilt a year later, only to have a head gasket blow and the cylinder head cracked.

      Once again, it should have been scrapped; but yours truely refused even when family mentioned it. It sat up for four years before I had it repaired yet again last year after the passing of Mom and Dad. I was cleaning it last weekend when a couple of family members remarked how amazing it was that it looked so good; but the fact is it is a miracle it is even here at all.

      There are several other Taurus wagons in the area, and I thought of buying another one. But, besides that fact that one aging daily driver is enough; none of them are, and never will be, the Blue Goose. It is a survivor; just like us.

    • 0 avatar

      Like people, the most glamorous, well cared for cars get to live on well past their useful lives. The work-a-day car/person gets used-up by a life of hard work and then chucked into an early grave. When I look at that 300, I see a refelction myself and people like me. Who is anyone to say we aren’t worthy?

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Indeed ;

        Or ” I always think to myself why would anybody go out of their way to save one of those, or why waste all that money to restore an ordinary car.” .

        I like the vehicles I own , all are just old vehicles , nothing special apart from I like them sufficiently to hunt them down and in most cases , save them from the crusher .

        I just got back from ” The Drive To The Center Of The Earth ” ~ a three day Central California back road rally , I was to take my battered old 1959 Metropolitan Nash FHC but on the way to the jump off point @ 04:30 the fuel feed pipe decided to clog so I had to perforce , jump into my un prepared 1969 Chevy C/10 pickup with it’s wheezy clapped out 250 C.I.D. InLine 6 Banger engine and TH350 slushbox tranny ~ this rusty hunk ‘o junk is the very definition of ” cheap work truck ” but off we went after filling the tank and washing the glass (I’m kinda a nutter for clean glass) and it comported itself very well indeed ~ the slowest vehicle on any freeway , it handled superbly on the tight curves , hills & valleys in Central Cali ~ going up Rt. 33 to Ojai I passed some BMW’s who didn’t want to go 63 MPH , Rt. 245 was devoid of traffic early Monday morning so I was able to put the Falken (SP ?) LT radials and the Bilstein HD’s through their paces .

        In the three days I passed pretty much every other vehicle I encountered , much to the surprise of Farmers , Ranchers & Locals all of whom had newer & fancier vehicles ~ even once nice LEO was surprised I was able to outrun his patrol thing & only commented
        ” that’s a nice old truck ” when we parted .

        Yes , it’s a piece of crap 42 year old entry level Ranch Rig but , I love it just the same , same as my Metropolitan that’s fixed as of sundown to – day and will be my steed in Memorial Day’s TT Cycle Ride , I only hope I don’t break any more wheels this time out ~ that’s kinda scary but it really is a nice driver .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    sketch447

    “If, as I have often posited in my articles, cars really do have souls, the deserve better than to be held prisoner of a man’s past.”

    Sigh. That is genius, pure genius! (I’m quoting Wile E. Coyote as he tinkered in his lab.)
    I don’t really agree that cars have souls. I’m too practical and jaded at this point. But writing such as yours just might make me change my mind!

  • avatar
    brettc

    That was an excellent article. Cars do have souls, some more than others (current Toyotas are excluded though). The ending made me momentarily sad when I think of all the vehicles I see on the road that really aren’t that old but either sound or look like crap because the owner doesn’t care for it like it should be cared for and just treats it as something to get from point A to B.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States