2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71: The End Of The Affair

2009 chevrolet tahoe z71 the end of the affair

July of 2013. Somewhere between Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, with the scorching summer sun beating down upon the bleached blacktop. Colin Firth’s perfectly accented voice reading the conclusion of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair.

My white 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 carried me towards San Bernardino from Albuquerque on my journey to Cayucos, where I was headed to visit my great uncle through the nothingness of the desert and the interminable heat. It can drive a person crazy, particularly when you’re alone. While I don’t mind being alone, sometimes it’s not best to stew in your own thoughts for that long of a stretch. Instead, I listened to audio books on my iPhone, connected to the Bose stereo system via an auxiliary cable. The Tahoe had Bluetooth capability for phone but not for media. I didn’t mind.

My Tahoe has witnessed, and at times been party to, the ends of many an affair. The beginnings, as well — changing relationships, changing jobs, moving homes. The big white truck carried me both willingly and reluctantly from one place to the next, safely and successfully weathering storms both meteorological and emotional. It carried my amazing daughter, my German shepherd, Stella, and my most personal belongings on the journey from Albuquerque to Columbus. From time to time, it has also carried my preferred demons. It made sure I arrived to countless physical therapy appointments and home from several surgeries. In the 114,524 miles we were together, it betrayed me only once.

After a car crash three and a half years ago, as my broken pelvis and back were healing, the Tahoe became insufferable. It wasn’t just the bones that had to heal. The force of the crash had torn ligaments, tendons and muscles. My four month convalescence, post crash, was purposefully absent of physical therapy as per my doctor’s instructions.

During that time, I experienced considerable atrophy of my core muscles, to the point that I lost over twenty pounds. I couldn’t sit it in the Tahoe for more than twenty minutes without unbearable pain, thanks to the upright angle of the seat coupled with the stiff suspension of the Z71 package. As a result, I simply stopped driving, unless I absolutely had to. I’d gone from putting around 25,000 miles a year on it in the high, dry desert of Albuquerque to about 5,000 a year in Ohio.

Every other week, I had to make a four-hour round trip to another one of my company’s offices. I would stop twice on the way down in the morning to walk around for a couple of minutes, but without fail I would arrive at work in a tremendous amount of pain. It would ease somewhat during the day and, on the way home, I would typically stop halfway, recline the seat as much as I could, and sleep until the pain was bearable enough to continue home. As I was driving, taking my pain medication was out of the question. When I finally admitted this struggle to Jack, he suggested that I start driving his Accord instead, which helped.

I became angry with my Tahoe. Resentful. I would remark about how much I hated it. After all, it had betrayed me after we’d been through so much together. I’d been patient in my search for it. I had scoured lots, dealer websites, and test driven other makes and models only to be disappointed and further determined to hold out for exactly what I wanted. I’d always wanted a white Tahoe, but thanks to a combination of time, pressure, and difficult dealerships, my first Tahoe ended up being blue and the one that followed was black.

This time I’d managed to get almost exactly what I wanted. My only concession on this Tahoe was a lack of heated seats, which was fine because it had everything else: Z71 with tow package, leather seats, nav delete with the rear view camera in the mirror, DVD players in the headrests for my kid, Bluetooth phone, and brushed metal accents instead of the fake wood I never cared for in a Tahoe.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I grew emotionally attached to this truck, and it shouldn’t be surprising that I felt betrayed by its inability to take care of me after the crash. Yet I was still taken aback by how difficult it was to part with this vehicle, this tool, this machine. Jack and I decided a few months ago that we needed to purchase a tow vehicle for “Marilyn,” our NC Mazda MX-5 Cup Car. As such, the Tahoe immediately became superfluous. I have Matt Farah’s Fiesta ST as my daily driver, and I have his little red Corvette as my trackday rat. (What can I say? He always wants to sell when I want to buy.) Add a tow rig to this fleet and really, the Tahoe doesn’t seem to fit in our plans or in the driveway.

The rub was that I didn’t think I’d be parting with it so soon. I thought we’d trade it in when we purchased the tow rig. And the purchasing of the tow rig was just talk — it was simply in the ether, and would come to fruition at some indeterminate point in the future. And, as I have healed over the last three years, the Tahoe has become more palatable. It still makes me hurt, but not as much. A couple of Mondays ago, however, I received an email from Jack with the subject line, “Last chance to back out…” He’d sold it. My. Tahoe. And there was no new tow rig sitting in the driveway. It’s much easier to let something (or someone) go when you’re experiencing the euphoria that comes with something (or someone) new.

And so the end came. Goodbye to all that, goodbye to my favorite Tahoe. The best one. The one I owned for the longest time; in fact, it was the vehicle I owned for the longest time period, point blank. I couldn’t watch it drive away. I couldn’t shake the man’s hand. As Colin Firth once read to me, “Love had turned into a love affair, with a beginning and an end.” My voice cracked as I said my goodbyes, so I turned quickly away and scurried back into the house as Jack wrapped up all the loose ends of the affair.

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  • Threeer Threeer on Jul 11, 2017

    My 1974 BMW 2002. This was the car I had grown up lusting after...desiring above all else. No Porsche, Mercedes, etc...even came close. So in 1993, a short year after graduating college, I found a pristine 1974 BMW in Baikal Blau up near Indianapolis. My wife and I made the drive up from northern TN and included a visit to my dad's side of the family. Somebody up above posted something to the effect of "how can a person fall in love with a car without even driving it." Well, when I turned the final corner and saw that little blue box sitting in the owner's driveway, it was over. Done. I took the test drive as a courtesy. We returned home and I set out to sell my Sentra SE-R to clear the cash to buy the Bimmer. And so I did, and for years that box became my DD. I lavished much, much attention on it. Drove it back and forth to work and relished each and every second behind that huge steering wheel. Joined the BMWCCA and attended meetings and shows like an obsessed fiend. At some point, the notion hit me that driving a 20+ year old car as a DD wasn't perhaps the brightest idea, so I decided to sell it. Signs went up, ads went into the publications (before the interwebs really got cranking). A young(er) gentleman in Nashville called and made an offer. So, on a sunny Saturday morning, my wife and I headed out to Nashville to sell Blue Bonnet (the name given my beloved). My wife followed me in her Del Sol and as the exit drew nearer and nearer, my heart started pounding harder and harder. The sense of dread was overwhelming and I wondered out loud just what in the holy heck I was doing? I had grown up rabidly in love of all things Blau mit Weiss and this was MY ultimate driving machine. When we pulled over to the proposed meeting place, we had arrived earlier than the gentleman wanting to buy the car. Wife offered to take one last picture of me and BB, and that was the final push over the edge. I cried. Unashamed. Unrelenting. I cried. I think I genuinely scared my wife. I couldn't do it. Just wasn't ready to let go, so when the prospective owner arrived, I gently explained to him that there was no way I could part with it. I won't say he was overjoyed, but since no cash or title had passed hands, he accepted my explanation and drove away. Oh, the euphoria of driving my little '02 back up I-24! She was still mine! At that time, my parents were visiting me from Germany and when I pulled back into the driveway, my father looked at me with a mixture of astonishment and understanding. That drive back from Nashville was every bit as exciting and satisfying as when I first took command of the wheel and piloted her down from Indianapolis. So yes, it is not impossible to fall for a car long before ownership. And it is not impossible to grow horribly, indescribably attached to a car once it is yours. We all have the "one that got away" that should have never left our driveway, and my little '74 was that one. It eventually was sold as continued maintenance versus available financial resources clashed repeatedly as did the fact that I had no real ability to store a third car. Of all the cars I've owned (and the list is a fairly long one), this is the one that I miss the most.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Jul 26, 2017

    So how much money did he make you spend to get rid of your Tahoe? You were using a 2009 to tow your race car until you met Jack…. He convinced you to sell it and buy something more expensive, and just as uncomfortable. Is this the story so far? Has he given you any guff yet about the value of pit-bikes and Marco Andretti’s enclosed trailer? Guys will bankrupt you if you let them. You know that right?

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.