By on May 18, 2014


As happy as I was (and still am) with the purchase of my new-to-me Chevrolet Sonic LTZ, there was still an unpleasant task that had to be done. A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed three trash bags and a set of old, faded black plastic keys as I left my apartment and made my way outside to clean out my 2005 Mazda6 for the last time.

As I unlocked her (which was rare—the poor girl sat unlocked more often than not through her tenure with me), unexpectedly, a virtual highlight reel of memories began to flash rapidly through my mind. I delayed the inevitable task of cleaning her, preferring to sit in the driver’s seat and well upon the past, remembering each and every step of our partnership as if it was yesterday. She was my first real, “adult” car—not to be confused with the beaters that most parents give their raging teenage offspring before trusting them to drive anything remotely current or hip whatsoever. Before she entered my life, I didn’t really have much of an opinion when it came to cars. I just drove the car that had been graciously given to me by my parents because, well, it was free.

Back in 2008, I spent months and months narrowing down my final choice among the mid-sized sedan contenders. Of course, being an irrational automotive enthusiast, I ignored the plain-jane Accords and Camrys, and, as you might have guessed, the Mazda6 rose to the top of my list.

She was so resiliently shiny and magnificently red the first time I laid eyes on her; not a candy color but, a deep, rosy red. At the very start, I knew we were a perfect fit. There was no doubt in my mind; she was mine and I was hers. I jumped in the front seat, put the long slender key in the ignition and started that baby up! It didn’t take me long to decide on a name that fit. In fact, it seemed like she chose to call herself Roxanne.

Roxy and I were inseparable from day one and, as I began the task of preparing her to be sold, it certainly showed. I found myself wishing I had taken better care of my girl. The front of the hood was dented upward due to my most recent (yes, there were more than one) fender bender with an older Jeep Cherokee. The grill was a lost cause and had been taken out after that incident—she looked like a very confused Shelby GT500. You could see the paint beginning to chip away from several places. I was embarrassed by her appearance. At the end of our time together, I did not like to be seen driving her anymore due to the cosmetic damage she endured, or more appropriately, that I had made her endure. I felt like I had betrayed her. In that moment, I wished for the last three months back, wanting to relive the time I took for granted. I know it sounds silly, but…I bonded with that car.

Never in a million years had I imagined feeling more strongly about losing a car than I would feel about getting a new one. On the one, obvious hand, I had a new frickin’ car! Amaze-balls! Yet, on the other hand the amount of sorrow and remorse I had was so overwhelming it suppressed my excitement.

Nevertheless, every partnership comes to an end one way or another. The time had come for me to say farewell to Roxy. An incredible feeling of heartbreak came over me when I realized this would be my last few hours with her. We had spent seven long years with one another. Some might say the years I spent with her could easily have been the most defining years in my young adult life. This car was with me while I grew and flourished into a fine young woman (debatable, I suppose).

I began to clean out my entire being from Roxanne. The goal was to make it look as if I had never been a part of this car. Unfortunately, this proved improbable and, ultimately, impossible. I popped her trunk and began to look around her cluttered, disheveled self. She was like a long hidden treasure, containing numerous bits and pieces of my life. In fact, this car was exactly that: a significant piece of Caroline.

Enough procrastinating. I reached in and pulled out a book that was missing the cover. I opened to the first page: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I thought back, trying to remember when I read it; it all seemed so long ago. Then I found a red, one-piece swimsuit and it all came back to me: It was the summer of 2008. I worked as a lifeguard at a local country club. It was shortly after I had moved to South Carolina, and I was ecstatic to be in a new place and to be close to family. Seeing that book and that swimsuit took me back to the emotions I felt when I first put on that swimsuit. I briefly considered trying it on to see if it still fit, then considered how I might feel if it didn’t, and moved on.

Next, I pulled out a worn, manila envelope. I could tell it had endured some significant weather damage. Once I was able to pry it open, I saw two NCAA basketball ticket stubs. These ticket stubs were to the 2009 NCAA Tournament. I remembered this game vividly. Michigan State and UNC were in the championship game. UNC had a steady lead the whole game but that wasn’t enough to make me comfortable. What can I say…I’m a Southern gal. I like my sports. I love my teams and, on occasion, I can take it a little too seriously. This game wasn’t any different. I was a hot mess…unfortunately, I had made Roxy a hot mess, too, over the years. I smoked in her. I slept in her. I abused her. I wished I hadn’t.

Next, I came across a blue plastic bag. When I looked inside to discover the contents I couldn’t have been more repulsed. It was full of my abusive ex-boyfriend’s things. Rather than spend any more time on this regrettable period in my life, I immediately set the plastic bag with the rest of the trash that was accumulating outside of good ol’ Roxy. Breakups aren’t easy on anyone and Roxy was my saving grace during that part of my life. I would take her out and drive for hours just listening to my music, being alone with my musical muses, my thoughts, and my emotions. Sadness. Happiness. Anger. Fear. I was free to be me, just me.

She gave me the strength I needed to conquer the uncertainty and doubt I experienced during that tumultuous time. She gave me the ability to just let go and liberate myself from him, both physically and emotionally. When I didn’t have anywhere else to go, I had Roxy. I have had many life-altering changes and moments of clarity, just by getting behind the wheel of my trusty Mazda6 and hitting the road until life makes sense again. I silently thanked her for that.

It was almost as if Roxanne knew I needed a pick-me-up at that moment, because she gave me a gift in my next discovery. It was a quart-sized ziplock bag, and inside were five parking tickets. I pulled one from the clear bag and saw the date: November 19, 2012. This was the night that my girlfriends took me out and helped me reclaim my freedom after the pain from my ex-boyfriend. Although most people wouldn’t consider a parking ticket a happy memory, this one definitely was. I remembered that they cared enough to help pull me out of that dark place, and the fun we had that night. I remembered coming back to my car to find that parking ticket and laughing it off, thinking that the expense was well worth it.

I finished cleaning her up and making her as presentable as I could. Roxy still had a bit of life left in her, with about 150k miles on the clock. I knew that she would be able to provide even more memories to her next owner, who would probably be somebody a lot like I was at some of those low moments—somebody without a lot of money to spare on a car, but somebody who desperately needed one. Part of me was glad that I would be handing her over, indirectly, to somebody that Roxy would have the chance to take care of, the way she took care of me all those years.

If Roxy could talk, she’d probably tell my new car, Tails, that I wasn’t so good at taking care of my car or keeping it clean, but that I loved her. Roxy was there for some of the lows and the highs, and I’m sure Tails will see his share of both, too. The miles we racked up together were many, but I’m coming out of it a stronger, more sensible, more worldly woman.

Thank you for the memories, Roxy. But all the memories, good and bad, went in the trash that day. Much better to live through the windshield of my new car than in the trunk of my old one.

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83 Comments on “The Truth About Caroline: Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend...”

  • avatar

    Nice. I feel/felt the same way about many of my past vehicles. What I sold them for now seems like peanuts. Oh to have them parked somewhere, still mine, to just travel down Memory Lane once again.

  • avatar

    That first generation Mazda6 was a beaut. Fantastic handling, superb steering, sharp looks, plenty of room inside, and a huge trunk. You had the hatch, which means great versatility too. I have an ’04 so I’ll admit to being a little biased. It will soon be replaced by something newer, so i’m going to have to clean out my accumulated junk from the old girl, just like you did. One thing for sure – i will miss her…

    • 0 avatar

      I so agree with this! My 25 yo daughter has an ’04 Mazda6 5-door. I4 engine with a 5-speed stick. A year older than Roxy, but with just 120k miles, so I hope it lasts a while longer, because I just LOVE borrowing it when I get the chance. I once did a 500 mile trip in it, and it was ideal.

      By the way, I keep hearing about Mazdas being rust buckets. After 10 years on the Maine coast, My daughter’s is just beginning to show tinges of brown (which polish off) on the inner wheel well lips. I think that is not at all bad.

      Long live the Mazda6! But Caroline has made a choice – long live Tails!!

  • avatar

    I, too get very attached to my cars. As I prepare to let go of my car of near 20 years, it certainly tempers the excitement of the new one. Though I have to say I never did to any of my cars what poor Roxy went through. The condition of Roxy would certainly be telling to me if I was back at that point Caroline is in her life. I never judged potential girlfriends by what they drove, but the condition of what they drove always played in my mind when I first saw their car – one of the first looks into the lifestyle of this person you just met. A car loaded with crap from years of use? One can only imagine what the apartment must look like…

    • 0 avatar

      I find it’s just something that comes with the territory with cars when it comes to younger women. While young guys tend to take pride in their rides, girls tend to live their lives out of them, loading them up with stuff, and never cleaning them out unless they need to make room to seat passengers in a particular seat.

      I’ve dated many a girl with immaculate apartments and disaster-zone car interiors, I just chock it up to the results of an active lifestyle and viewing the machine as nothing more than an appliance. It’s just different priorities. Guys tend to have an apartment that looks like it should be condemned instead.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Beautiful, Caroline, I’ve honestly not been of driving age long enough to have an old friend like Roxy, but I can certainly feel your emotions through your words. Well done. I hope that you and Tails (from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise?) have plenty of new memories together.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Beautiful, Caroline, I’ve honestly not been of driving age long enough to have an old friend like Roxy, but I can certainly feel your emotions through your words. Well done. I hope that you and Tails (from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise?) have plenty of new memories together.

  • avatar

    My saddest bye-bye:

    ’92 New Yorker. A flukish, unexpected buy from a family member, it was the most comfortable highway car I’d ever experienced except for the Deville. The rear seat was sleep therapy. Thought I’d cry when I watched the mechanic take it for a test drive as we worked the trade for my wife’s Sable.

  • avatar

    From the context of the article, it doesn’t seem like the car has any problems.

    Why are you getting rid of it? It is still fairly new and should have plenty of life left. The Sonic is a downgrade in comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      It was a 2005, so it was nine years old. It had a myriad of issues that would have required significant costs to repair. However, that’s not really what this article was about.

      That being said, I’m replaying KOTOR on iPad right now, so I appreciate your username. :)

      • 0 avatar

        I love the first-generation Mazda6, the hatchback most of all. I felt much the same way finally clearing out my ’03 Protege for the last time.

        Also, a Sonic named Tails. Well done.

        If only it were orange.

      • 0 avatar

        “However, that’s not really what this article was about.”

        But it may be what the comments will be about. Plain neglect.

        • 0 avatar

          I make no bones about the fact that I neglected this car. I think my remorse about that is plainly stated.

          • 0 avatar
            The Dark One

            One of the things I’ve learned the past couple of years reading articles on this site, is that the comments seem to take the discussion in a whole other direction from what thought the author originally intended to express. My advice is to just go with it and see where it ends up.

        • 0 avatar

          +1. A nine year old car with 150K on the clock will certainly have some signs of wear, but should be a few years away from beaterhood, barring a major accident or catastrophic mechanical failure.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, if it had issues then it was probably time to go.

        KOTOR for iPad sounds interesting.

      • 0 avatar

        I had the same model you did a Red 2007 sport hatchback with the wiper on the back, spoiler and the V-6. I will have to admit, a few times it spent time in the triple digits between New Orleans and Houston. It glided over the pavement, no vibration. My only worry was the Smokies. Traded the 6 in on what you see above. As for the Sonic, 3 years or 36K miles warranty makes anyone sleep better. Am I correct?

        • 0 avatar

          She bought an MY12 so the factory warranty is getting ready to expire it if has not already, but I do agree with your basic point. Personally I’d rather have a solid car over any warranty.

  • avatar

    keep it, fix it, sell the new shitbox.

  • avatar

    I used to own one of these! It was also a 2005 5 door, grey with black leather and a 5 speed stick shift. It wasn’t the fastest car out there, but, boy, could it handle – it was a blast around town. Highway trips were a different story… It was so loud on the highway, that I started renting a car when my job had me making monthly trips to Dallas (3 hours from OKC). The starter motor went out at 10K miles, the padding the drivers seat started disenegrating around 8K (spent lots of time vaccuming it up waiting for replacements to arrive), the clutch spontaneously disintegrated around 18K miles, and the transmission had to be rebuilt around 25K miles (I’d been taking it to the dealer for quite some time about trouble shifting into 2nd gear). It also had an ability to run through batteries at a surprising rate. Good thing I bought the 100K mile extended warrantly – but when the dealer told me that the front axles needed to be replaced (this was at 40K) miles, I decided it was time to cash in my chips.
    I still miss that car…

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Caroline, I totally sympathize. Years ago, I took a job in a new state and bought a new car to take with me. The car was awesome and I kept it 9 years, but with all the changes at once, I felt like I was living someone else’s life at first. Cars can become such a huge part of our lives, and I guess it takes the goodbye cleanout to even realize it. Good luck with Tails.

  • avatar

    Neglected? It sounds as if the car was used as a giant motorized dumpster which was not emptied for years. I fail to understand why some people use their cars this way.

  • avatar

    I wish I could say the same about the 2006 Mazda6 I had. It was the worse rattle-trap I have ever owned, and only the 2009 Speed3 I had came close. Guess I was a glutton for punishment. Yeah they drove nice, and seeing the new 2014’s, with the beautiful Kodo design, and the 40MPG while still having more power than my current car is soo tempting. But I know better. My OCD buzzes in the back of my mind, and won’t let me forget.

    I sold it to my boss for the same price Carmax offered me. I didn’t even try to make more; the money wasn’t worth my sanity. I was literally losing sleep, dreading having to drive that thing to work in the morning and hearing all those buzzes and rattles. I never looked back once it was gone, never regretted anything other than buying it in the first place.

    He still has it, and I see it whenever I go by to visit. Not once in those 5 years have I asked if I could drive it for old time’s sake.

  • avatar

    I’ve always said goodbye to my cars like ol yeller getting put down cuz I drive them into the ground. Thanks for the good times but it’s time for you to go because you’ve got this disease (car issues) that makes you not worth fixing.

    The only one of my former cars I still wish I had was my 88 Prelude SI 4ws. That was by far the most fun car I’ve ever driven. It was riddled with electrical gremlins though and after I skidded into a curb obliterating the front-left wheel assembly I said time for you to go…. bang. dead.

  • avatar

    I sold my last car, a 1994 Ford Probe GT with 200K on the odometer (and I put all but 21K on there myself), a year ago and while I miss it, I am still kicking myself that I sold it so cheaply to the president of the Probe club. I had room for it at the place where I live now (I moved last June), but for some reason I felt I had to sell it. I still own a 2013 Mazda6S GT and 2008 Mazda RX-8 GT.

    The original poster of this article should consider putting this on Huffington Post and becoming a blogger there. She writes well and I’m sure what she writes will connect with many people.

  • avatar

    I had a 96 Casablanca White Audi A4 Quattro 5 speed for 11 years, one of the first cars in North America.

    I looked after it and was rewarded with an extremely reliable car despite the reputation it never left me stranded in 170,000 miles. I think VAG paid extra attention to prepping those first NA cars.

    I sold it to a local lad, and I still see it occasionally it still shines like it did from new.

    The not at all reliable replacement for my A4 (a TT) was sold last year, I don’t miss it at all.

    However given the chance to retrieve my A4 I would be really tempted.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an emerald green 96 A4 Quattro with a stick as well. Mine gave me a litany of issues, from engine mounts failing at 60k to the AC evaporator failing twice before 100k (sold it at 85k).

      That said, while I wasn’t particularly sad to see it go, I did miss it. It was a special car to me, the first car I really owned, and a genuinely fun car to drive, especially after I did the suspension with Bilsteins, H&R sport springs, and H-Sport sways, which really made the car come alive.

      The old 2.8 SOHC V6 was kind of a boat anchor, but compared to the issues associated with either the 30V 2.8 or the 1.8T especially, it was rock solid reliable and an easy car to live with.

  • avatar

    I have fond memories of my past vehicles but that is where it ends. Never saw the need or logic to name one’s vehicle or the often commented male need for naming their pecker. I’ve known people to never tidy up the flotsam and jetsom of life from their rides. Each to their own.

  • avatar

    +1 on the memories, the bond. I completely understand, I have fond memories of every car that has passed through my service, even the crap cans.

    -1 on the mess. I just can’t fathom having a car that full of junk. When I cleaned out the Alero last month it took all of 10 minutes and a bag, as the stuff that came out of my glove box and console went directly into the new glove box and console, done.

  • avatar

    Caroline has found her voice. And if that is a pick of Roxy her cred has gone up in my book because she drove a FIVE DOOR Mazda6

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, the rear wiper says it all.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the funniest moments was going to a Mazda dealership and discussing with the lot lizard that I really wish Mazda had kept the 6 hatchback.

      “There is no Mazda 6 hatchback.”
      “Yeah there used to be. That’s what mine is.”
      “That’s just a sedan.”
      “No, it’s a hatchback.”
      “The only hatchback is the Mazda 3.”
      “No seriously, this is a hatchback. It just looks like a sedan.”
      “I’ve never heard of that.”
      {Opens hatch}
      “Wow, you weren’t kidding!”

      • 0 avatar

        This past Friday I called a local Chevy dealer to ask about a couple SS’s(!) and the guy taking my call said they have a ton o’ Camaros, come on down. I said no, the sedan…he went on to tell me SS is a package on the Camaro, not a stand alone car. Then I asked him to go check with someone and ask if they had any SS’s from Oz…he got back on the phone after asking and transferred me quickly to a more senior salesweasel. That salesweasel told me they had two setting on the showroom floor…huh….

        • 0 avatar

          It infuriates me when a salesman does not have the professionalism to understand the product he sells.

          How hard it is to read a few articles & reviews, to surf your own website, play around with what’s sitting in your showroom right next to your desk?

          In my recent experiences visiting a few dealerships, I’ve found that simply devoting a couple hours on Google made me more competent at their job than them. I visited a Chevy dealership and test drove their CUV. (The salesman had never heard the term “CUV” before. He also wasn’t entirely sure what their smallest SUV was.) I asked why I should buy his vehicle over an Escape. He had no answer. How can you sell a car if you can’t answer that question?
          I visited a BMW dealership to look at an X1. The salesman said it came with two engines. I asked what their displacements were. He had no idea what the term meant. I had already noticed that BMW’s website handles trim selection differently than other brands, so I asked what the difference was between the ‘sport’ & ‘luxury’ (or whatever they’re called), and he didn’t know, but he said I could look at the website. I asked if they had any literature, and he said no, they expect everyone to just use the website.

          Essentially, these salesmen made the point that they were unnecessary and inconsequential to the process of buying a car. Consequently, they are unwittingly strong evidence supporting Tesla’s arguments that a direct-buy process is superior to the franchised dealership model. After all, by funneling me to the website for all info and providing me with no additional info/service, they create a de facto direct-buy system, anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That is quite funny. But, similarly to the old Integras, all anyone would have to do is look at the cutline of the back door to realize it’s a hatch.

    • 0 avatar

      She would be getting marriage proposals if she had a manual-equipped Mazda6 wagon.

      • 0 avatar

        “She would be getting marriage proposals if she had a manual-equipped Mazda6 wagon.”

        She would be getting *more* marriage proposals if she had a manual-equipped Mazda6 wagon.

        There, fixed it for you.

        Nice writing Caroline.

  • avatar

    I bought a new, near-stripper 04 Mazda 6 after graduating college and it served me well for six and a half years until I upgraded to something less spartan. The I4 was underpowered and got mediocre mileage, but it had very good steering feel for a FWD car and a well-tuned suspension that was superior to anything offered by the competition. It was also very reliable and had low operating costs, which was particularly important during graduate school.

  • avatar

    I know the feel…

  • avatar

    Sandy, my beloved Mazda 626 (in Mojave Beige, which sort of explains the name), had to be put down after an unfortunate encounter with a member of the family Cervidae; after the insurance guys had cut me a check, but before they shipped her off to the shredder, they bade me come in and retrieve what remained of my personal property.

    There wasn’t much, but I got it. (I wished I could take those four Dunlop SP Sport Signatures with a mere 2500 miles on ’em, but no chance.) And I admit to being a tad weepy when it was all over: this was the only brand-new car I’d ever bought, and I suspect there will never be another.

  • avatar

    I understand this feeling all too well. I have a Protege5 that has been my trusted friend for the past 13 yrs–vivid yellow that was the center of attention everywhere we went, so of course he got named “Monroe.”

    But after much deliberation, I decided it was finally time for a new car. (I just signed the paperwork & will pick it up in a few days when they finish installing a couple accessories.) The difference is that I’ve already experienced the bitter taste of letting go (after an accident a few years back that threatened to total him), so I knew what was coming. I decided not to trade him in. Of course he’s worth more to me than any blue book value, but it isn’t about the money. It’s that I can’t bear to think of him being shipped off someplace where he’ll be neglected & abused; he deserves better than that. So instead, I’m waiting till I find the right buyer who will take care of him like I have.

    For Roxanne–I love the first gen 6s. They’re a good size, have a timeless beauty, & are a blast to drive. The color in the pic looks like Blazing Copper instead of a red. I really like that color–everyone knows when you’ve arrived.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a fully loaded 04 6 GT hatch, V6 5 speed. Loved everything about it except the Ford 3.0 that couldn’t keep its oil down. I completely agree with the virtues you recount in your post, and had it not been such a turd under the hood, I would likely still be driving it.

      But yeah, great cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Our attachment to these inanimate objects we own is fascinating.

      I had a Maxima for 17 fabulous years. (Well, some of the years themselves weren’t very fabulous at all, but the car always was.) One day I got a new job that required long-distance drives that were beyond the mechanical reliability of its declining valvetrain. The rest of the car was still fabulous — so many of the ’90s Japanese sedans were so marvelously overbuilt like nothing since — but I took less money than I could have gotten in order to sell it to an acquaintance who I knew would appreciate and maintain it. It was like selling your cat, or handing out your mom for adoption. It felt so cold-blooded to sell it.

      And yet, it was an inanimate object all along. It’s something about how we humans are wired.

      • 0 avatar

        “Our attachment to these inanimate objects we own is fascinating.”

        I agree.

        I have a few theories why we do this.
        One, it is not so much the inanimate object to which we cling but the memories and their associated feelings. That’s why we build museums and restore old buildings and classic cars. The inanimate object is a symbol, and if it is lost, then we fear what it represents may also be lost.

        Two, cars are sufficiently complex that they cease being mere inanimate objects like a hammer or a chair. Two supposedly identical cars will take on peculiarities unique to each, thus affording them an almost personality-esque quality.

        Three, people are creatures of routine. We spend a long time in our cars. We become accustomed to them, and so when it is changed (such as with a rental), we experience stress. To justify that stress, we assign some sort of inherent value to our usual car so that we can associate the lack of stress (due to familiarity) with it as being the result of that assigned ‘inherent value.’ Thus, to maintain mental consistency (since we are creatures of routine), we then feel a loss due to giving up the object that we’ve internally given value.

      • 0 avatar

        I know how you feel….. except mines an ’88.

        I could never get rid of it, so it sits at my mom’s house. So many memories with this car. It was the family car from ’92 to roughly ’99 when my dad gave it to me for my first car. I remember family road trips and such, how my dad would frighten my mom by flooring, he and I thought it was hilarious. How paranoid he was of the CHP’s fleet of 5.0 Mustangs…… he was a speeder. He loved that car. It never gave him any trouble. He always put the best tires he could buy for it.

        It had 137k of hard miles on it when I got it. When he gave it to me, he kept emphasis on it having a Z car engine, which it did, the VG30E with 160hp, good numbers for the 80’s when even a 351 Windsor didn’t even match that. I beat the crap out of that car. I would daily redline that VG just to hear it at full song….. that engine sounded fantastic! I would neutral drop it into gear from redline, I would do parking brake J turns, I found it’s top speed to be 117 MPH.

        Initially I hated it because I had Mustang fever back then, fueled by Bullitt, both Gone in 60 Seconds movies and the love of RWD and V8’s….. here was this “box” with wrong wheel drive, the exact opposite of what I wanted….. but over time, it won my respect as the other cars in the school parking lot died from their owners, but not my Maxima. I treated the car terribly, but it always started, had functional AC and it was actually pretty fun to drive. The only time she failed me was when she didn’t start one night and I needed to get to a football game about 40 miles away since I was the yearbook photographer…. thing was that I earned a ride in the cheerleader’s bus… that was a good time! I remember looking out the window and seeing a guy in an open top Jeep Wrangler TJ give me an absolute look of jealousy….. I just waved and smiled back. Funny thing was that when I got back, it fired right up, much to my chagrin as I hoped my friend Lindsey would give me a ride back and she stuck around just in case….. can’t win ’em all I suppose.

        Then her age started to catch up to her….. I went to college for a bit and from there to work; roughly 60 miles, she’d be on the verge of overheating, so my dad helped me buy a ’97 Ranger and the Maxima was parked, though I would continue to infrequently use it until I got an ’02 6 speed Maxima SE. The ’02, while very fast and with a lovely shifter, didn’t satisfy me the way the ’88 did. Also at 100k it was done. Then in ’06 my dad passed away and I still have the memories attached to that car and hence why I can’t fathom parting with it or junking it. Can’t do it. To me. it’s so much more then just a car…..

        • 0 avatar

          I too have an odd attachment to a Maxima. I am only on year 14, but it’s getting rusty and worn so I’m currently shopping for a replacement. However, I cannot make up my mind regarding the replacment. I’ve gone from wacky choices like e38, e39 wagon, F150, RX8, Mazdaspeed3, Mazdaspeed6, Miata, Infiniti Q45, Challenger, Focus ST, you name it. I am starting to realize that the reason I cannot make up my mind is that I’m dreading the day when I part with the Maxima. I drive it like a crackhead and it rarely fails to elicit a ca-ca eating grin when I let it fly. The muffler is long gone, so it’s a ton of fun to roll through the parking garage at work setting off alarms along the way. The suspension is pretty mushy so freeway expansion joints in curves can provoke a rather unsettling four-corner hop/twist that feels a bit like an amusement park ride.
          Despite it’s many miles and worn mechanicals, it still starts every day, still gets me where I’m going and still makes me smile.
          My wife and I got the Max when we were many years younger living in Los Angeles and drove it cross country to our current mid-atlantic home. Our kids have grown from babies to boys in the back seat and now watch repairs and hand me tools as I keep her running. I’ve had five different jobs, two homes, three kids, two Volvos and a Mazda in the time this car has been with me. It’s hard not to associate the times in your life with cars as the overlapping bands to help keep track of the years.
          I’m not sure when I’ll sort out what to do with this car or what I’ll get next, but I’ve still got a little time to enjoy the ride I’ve got before the sun sets on the Max. Enjoy it I shall.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The first-gen 6 is easily the most desirable car of that era, especially after the 2006 (IIRC) facelift.

  • avatar

    I must reluctantly agree with a few other posters here. The Sonic (while competent) is a big step down from your Mazda6. This point becomes even more valid when one considers your prior (rather infamous) column where you mock guys who drive econoboxes. (A shocking display of 80’s-woman shallowness in a supposedly more open-minded Millennial.)

    Yet, now you’re downsizing to a compact econobox too.(??) A subcompact, in fact. But that’s ok?? The Sonic cool-factor just isn’t in the same league.

    Whatever the Mazda6’s issues are, it’d be cheaper to fix that dynamically superior car, and keep it 5 more years, than buy the Sonic. But what’s done is done.

    And with all due respect, spare us your “abusive boyfriend” spiel. Just say “ex” and leave it at that. There are 2 sides to every story, and if you can’t offer both, then don’t offer just one. I wonder what type of car he drove?

    This ain’t no column. It’s just a blog entry of you cleaning out your car.

    • 0 avatar

      If you really think there’s ever a time where it’s okay for a man to abuse a woman, than you are a bigger idiot and misogynist than even this posting makes you look.

      • 0 avatar

        If you really think that expecting people to not air their dirty laundry and not defining yourself by the actions of others equates to justifying abuse, your are a bigger idiot than even this post makes you look.

  • avatar

    So I didnt read the whole article, was this about an auto enthusiast who doesn’t take care of their car? Beater or not, all my cars are kept pristine in and out, minus very small dings. Alas I guess this is the world of “debt” we live in. My 15 year old cars have been in better shape than most peoples 5 year old cars.

    I mean writer stepped down from a 6 to a Sonic, I’m sure there are reasons why. I personally would have kept my well maintained 6 over a Sonic…

    • 0 avatar

      I actually wrote a check for the Sonic. No debt incurred.

      I’m not sure why people are having a hard time understanding why I went from a nine year old car with a bunch of mechanical issues that CarMax valued at $1200 to a two year old car that has many more options and suits my lifestyle better. To each his own! :) I’m happy with my Sonic.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe they are jealous you are happy with a car that is not a brown, diesel wagon with a stick bought off a used car lot.

      • 0 avatar

        It is simply because anonymity of the Internet bring out the worst in people. Do not pay attention – they would bitch even if you bought Porsche – they would say that “.. it is an overpriced junk with no value proposition compared with your old Mazda6”. Or brand enthusiasts will be unhappy that you chose different brand. Or other trolls will have issues with you not choosing Accord or Camry. I recently shared my recent purchase on this forum (which I will not do ever again) and was immediately attacked for my choice and for not choosing whatever person figured out is the best brand/model for me (my response to to these trolls: thank you for your advice but keep it for yourself, I care less).

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry didn’t mean that way. I also mentioned I didn’t read the whole article. More props for you buying it out right. I just continually see people who buy a car for “reliability” and dump them 3-10 years later and are upside down in debt.

        Enjoy the new ride :).

        As the the Camcord lovers, I hate both. I know Jack bought one, but I didn’t like either. As mentioned, buy what YOU like and enjoy, not what others care.

        Btw what did you buy insidelookingout? As long as you are happy with your choice, who gives a f… :). I think have these negative posters don’t even own a car and borrow their moms

      • 0 avatar

        Who cares what others think of your car.

        It’s yours, it makes you happy and this is the biggie here- NO DEBT INCURRED. You won.

        According to gtrslnger, I drive the worst car on the planet, a ’12 Jeep Wrangler JK that should drop the rear axle, grenade the Pentastar and catch fire in the next 20 miles. Riiiiight.

        So what? I’m happy with it and it always puts a smile on my face. Like I said before, some people are never happy unless their pissing in other people’s Wheaties…..

    • 0 avatar

      I have always treated my cars like shit. Always well maintained but cosmetically shit.

      I know for some people that is strange but I get more enjoyment out of using my vehicle than looking at it. The only car I’ve managed to keep presentable was an 88 Hilux with so much barwork you would need DU rounds to touch the paint and a canvas interior capable of surviving re-entry.

  • avatar

    I realize I have come down on you in the past, but even I am stunned by the judgment in some of the comments today.

    This was a touching article about something we all have experienced in some form or fashion. My wife and I both teared up when we watched her first car go away on the flatbed. Cleaning out homes and cars is an emotional experience – and cars feel even more like friends to me.

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the post.

  • avatar

    Well written, Caroline. I am facing the replacement of my 04 Mazda 6 after 11 years and 250,000 kms (over 155,000 miles). Replacement of a motor mount and a PCV hose were the only non-regular maintenance items I have had done on it. It just kept running, tight as the day I picked it up. I`ve stalled buying for about a year, but I am ready for something new. I, like you, struggle with this guilt over getting rid of a bunch of mechanical parts.
    Ignore the trolls, feel sorry for them – they just do not get it.

  • avatar

    Regarding the incompetence and ineptitude of some dealership “salespeople” I have to say that the dealership where I have bought my two Mazdas is not that way. Both salespeople I have dealt with are on the top of their game and have won awards for walkaround presentations. Too bad all salespeople everywhere can’t say the same.

    • 0 avatar

      Lol. What?

      An award for the best walkaround? That’s total BS.

      ‘And this, Ms. Jazz– is your lighted vanity mirror. Notice there are -two- lamps. We do this to give you superior illumination. None of the competition offers anything approaching your new two-light vanity mirror.”

      • 0 avatar

        No BS, and I don’t appreciate you treating me like I’m a stupid female who knows nothing about cars. It’s an internal award given by dealers to those who know the features of the cars they sell.

        Next time i hope you are more polite.

        • 0 avatar

          Hope in one hand and poop in the other.

          Understand that Quaker parrots could win these fake awards. Your salesmen could give the best walkarounds in the universe, for all I care.

          What they did to you isn’t pretty, and you’re showing evidence their mind control games are still working. They were only nice to you to take your money. They’re not your friends, and you needn’t defend them.

  • avatar

    When I decided to first attempt to sell my much-loved 1974 BMW 2002, it did NOT end well. I’m not sure looking back now why I thought I needed to sell it at that particular moment in my life, but I put up signs and advertised the snot out of it (keep in mind, I had sold my near-new Sentra SE-R to buy my “dream”). Day came to deliver the car to the new owner and I followed my wife out onto the interstate down I-24 towards Nashville. As the miles rolled up, I felt an immense tidalwave of emotion roil over me. This was “the” car for me…what the hell was I doing selling it? Blue Bonnett still ran great and looked fantastic. When we got to the meeting place, the prospective new owner had yet to arrive. I pulled myself out of the driver’s seat and proceeded to completely lose it. I bawled uncontrollably in front of my wife and through the sobs came to the realization that the time wasn’t right for us to part (the car, not my wife…that’s another story). I genuinely felt bad for the guy, but when he arrived I laid it all out for him. I’m sure he was disappointed, but he understood the connection. The ride home back to Clarksville still piloting my beloved ’02 is and will remain one of the most blissful rides I’ve ever had.
    For some of us, cars are much more than just the collection of metal, plastic and rubber that make them up. They are reflections of who we are and deep, lasting connections are formed. We name them. And we weep (sometimes) when they finally depart from our lives.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Do you really say ‘frickin’?

    Charming;) You could use different language.

  • avatar

    Wait ’til you experience what a 9-year old neglected Chevy is like.

  • avatar

    I know the feeling, Caroline. That was me recently with passing on my first car, a 2006 Kia Rio. It was a great car to me, both reliable and very economical. After a front-end collision, though (and no standard ABS), I had to pass it on and sell it. I decided to take on a 2001 Acura CL Type-S that I can sink some cheap funds into and get everything running great again (little electrical gremlins, nothing major). It’s such a great car, though. I will miss the Rio, though. I still recommend it (and the current generation) to my friends for affordable, quality, reliable transportation. They’re better than people give them credit for.

    Also, I love that generation of the 6. Drove one a few years back (V6, AT) and it felt so tight and athletic. Very versatile, too (though the back seat when I checked it out seemed a bit tight… this seems to be a thing with Mazdas, though). Congrats on the Tails, I mean, Sonic, too (love the name!). Great little cars.

  • avatar

    First, nice story and congrats on the purchase of your Sonic.
    I find it fascinating how people arbitrarily decide what a poor choice you made in your recent purchase and decision to part with your old car. I am among the many that usually drive cars into the ground, yet I recently sold my two family cars, leased a new Volt and purchased a new Kia Soul.
    Sold a 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara to cover the down payment (and then some) on the Volt. It had 111k miles on it and was in cosmetically good shape. Why would I get rid of such a car with seemingly a long life ahead of it? Well…
    – Suzuki of America went out of business. Parts and service on the car was in steady decline
    – It got terrible gas mileage, 15 or so around town, 20-21 on the highway.
    – Went through brakes on a regular basis.
    – Was beginning to suspect the transmission was close to failure
    – And regularly burned out headlights. About 1 every six months. An annoyance by itself but the frequent changing of bulbs was causing the mounting hardware to fail. A whole new headlight assembly would need to be purchased. With so few of these on the road, a junkyard replacement would be hard to find
    Purchased a new Kia Soul to replace a 2003 Toyota Matrix. This car had 150k miles on it. Given Toyota’s brand reliability, again, a seemingly premature dumping of a car that could easily go another 100k miles. After driving this as my commuter car for many years, my daughter took it to college.
    – Where it broiled under the Fresno Sun for 4+ years. Which ruined the paint job
    – It was keyed several times
    – She got into a couple minor fender-benders and 1 major accident that stove in the hood. After that it had achieved the status of true beaterhood
    After it was given back to us it served us well as a short- distance driver because running costs were very low. However, there were several major repairs that were looming on the horizon. This combined with what it would cost to get it looking decent again; it was just not worth the cost. Additionally, we have several long-distance trips coming up in our future; I did not trust the Matrix nor did I want to destroy the lease mileage on the Volt
    The point of this long diatribe is that people change cars for a lot of reasons. And cars that seemingly on the surface to still have a lot of life in them, keeping them may not be the best decision for their current owner.

  • avatar

    As long as there’s no expensive body work/paint issues, a lot of cars sold privately or traded in would have greater value after a detailing and tune up. Those who don’t do any more than remove the junk and personal possessions are doing a favor for smaller lots who buy trade-ins from dealers.

    A quick eyeball tells them which are neglected “junk” to them and which are well-kept and worth buying and putting modest money into for resale. Dealers will go over the late model cream puffs for their used car lot, but sell some of the 4+ year old ones to smaller used dealers. The rest of the cream puffs and all of the neglected “junk” get wholesaled.

  • avatar

    I had a ’99 XJ Jeep Cherokee. The cleanest, brightest white I’ve ever seen with charcoal cloth interior. A nice, neat black pinstripe down each side. Jet black tint all around the greenhouse.

    Roll down windows. Push button looks. Even had ONLY two speakers, a set in the front doors. That’s right, only came with a set of two up front.

    *BUT* it had the 4.0L and 4wd.

    It also had the coldest arctic blast-like air conditioning I have ever witnessed in any car to date. Even colder than my ’11 GLK350, and in the Benz, it’s freezing. Yup, that damned cold.

    I put on a set of studded off road tires- the biggest I could fit into the huge fender wells. They were raised white letter tires. They looked perfect. I still remember the hum it made driving down the road.


    One day, after an afternoon of drinking out on a campground, I found it brilliant and fitting to begin fording nearby streams. After crossing a fairly wide creek several times, I took it across a(unbeknownst to me) very deep swimming hole and, consequently, submerged my Cherokee. Water went OVER the hood and OVER the dashboard.

    I remember the Pioneer head unit flickering off and on as it shorted out. I had to swim out of the driver’s seat.

    I went back to grab a couple of things out of the submerged Jeep about two days later. Algae had already began taking over the once simple, straightforward, but no nonsense charcoal interior. The smell of mildew about knocked me out.

    I killed it. Damnit. A facepalm is still appropriate, 8 years after the incident.

    That car never so much as failed from 40k to 110k. Always started. I abused the crap out of it. It never let me down. I never did anything except change the oil and put in a cheap battery.

    I vow to this day that I will have another XJ. And no, it will not see water.

    Godspeed, Cherokee, where ever you are.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Looks like a lovely neighborhood.

  • avatar

    Good article Caroline! I enjoyed it.

  • avatar

    I felt much the same last year when I had to bid adieu to my ’97 Volvo 850.

    Some cars come and go, but others… don’t.

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