Car Collector's Corner: When Is It Time To Let Go?

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland
em car collector s corner em when is it time to let go

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

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Mar 07, 2013

    One more reason, to add to the endless list of reasons to never live in a condo. A friend of mine had his near mint condition, unrestored '70 Cuda vandalized repeatedly while he lived in a condo waiting for his new house to be built. The board nazis (I apologize to any nazis for comparing them to a condo board) complained endlessly about "That old junker" contaminating the palace that they lived in. After about two weeks of complaints, someone keyed the rear quarter on the side where it couldn't be easily seen, then they keyed the other side, and the hood. All these keyings were deep into the sheet metal. Finally, a little wireless camera that ran on 12V was bought and installed and, of course, it turned out to be the elderly president and first lady of the condo board that were the vandals. The old coot got cuffed and carted off for one long night until he bailed out, his wife was on oxygen and they just summoned her. He and his wife resigned in disgrace from the board, and soon moved down the road. My friend sued them for damage to his original paint, and got a nice chunk of change as a settlement. He got the whole car repainted, and sold it for a lot of money, as this happened about the time that musclecars peaked in price.

  • -Nate -Nate on Mar 07, 2013

    Like I said...... -Nate

  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
  • Chris P Bacon I've always liked the looks of the Clubman, especially the original model. But like a few others here, I've had the Countryman as a rental, and for the price point, I couldn't see spending my own money on one. Maybe with a stick it would be a little more fun, but that 3 cylinder engine just couldn't provide the kick I expected.
  • EBFlex Recall number 13 for the 2020 Explorer and the 2020 MKExplorer.
  • CEastwood Every time something like this is mentioned it almost never happens because the auto maker is afraid of it taking sales away from an existing model - the Tacoma in this instance . It's why VW never brought the Scirrocco and Polo stateside fearful of losing Golf sales .
  • Bca65698966 V6 Accord owner here. The VTEC crossover is definitely a thing, especially after I got a performance tune for the car. The loss of VTEC will probably result in a slower vehicle overall for one reason: power under the curve. While the peak horsepower may remain the same, the amount of horsepower and torque up to that peak may be less overall. The beauty of variable cam lift is not only the ability to gain more power at upper rpm’s on the “big cam”, but the ability to gain torque down low on the “small cam”. Low rpm torque gets the vehicle moving and then big horsepower at upper rpm’s gains speed. Having only one cam profile is now introducing a compromise versus the VTEC setup. I guess it’s possible that with direct injection they are able to keep the low rpm torque there (I’ve read that DI helps with low rpm torque) but I’m skeptical it will match a well tuned variable lift setup.
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