QOTD: Has Santa Ever Really Delivered?
Your author, now the proud owner of a set of sure-grip Michelin floor mats, once pined for something even more elaborate on Christmas morning. The object of his affection? A rusty RWD Oldsmobile Cutlass sedan once owned by his grandfather.
Sadly, that slate-grey Olds did not find its way under the tree on that long-ago Christmas morning, back when the Spice Girls were topping the charts and Keanu Reeves was still in the first phase of his career. For others, however, and maybe even for some TTAC readers, Santa delivered in a big way.
While the vastly conservative Olds of my youthful dreams ended up being sold and not gifted to yours truly, a great number of hand-me-downs don a bow at Christmastime, ready to be put to use as a daily driver for, say, a college-bound teen. The life expectancy of such vehicles is often short, and personal experience has taught us all why.
No one likes hearing about the kid who got a new car for Christmas, as such gift exchanges inevitably breed resentment within the young person’s social circle, so today we’re talking used — perhaps very well used — vehicles that changed hands over the Christmas holidays. No, birthdays do not apply, even though 16th, 17th, and 18th birthdays are often when you’ll find grandma’s Buick Century or achingly pristine Honda Accord taking up residence with a new owner, condemned to a two-year-max sunset cruise filled with carnal shenanigans, burger grease, suspension-flattening joyrides, and shoddy maintenance.
Think back to Christmases past, B&B. Was there ever a new (old) ride waiting for you on that frosty morning?
[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]
Yes - I got my first car for Christmas in 1986. My Grandmother's 1982 Subaru GL FWD 5spd 4dr in "Shiny Maroon" with silver tape stripes, a jaunty teak and chrome trunk rack and fake wire wheel covers (stylin' for 1982!). A/C, but no power steering (or anything else except brakes) and an AM/FM stereo. That was the FIRST car with A/C my Grandparents ever bought. Old Mainers, a frugal and hardy bunch... How it happened was a bit amusing. That was my senior year of high school, and I lived with them. My grandmother was not yet retired, and was commuting from Yarmouth, ME to Portland every day - 25mi round trip. They had a diesel Suburban (they had a huge camper), a one-year old '85 Oldsmobile 98 that was my Grandfather's retirement present to himself, and the Subaru. My Grandfather had rapidly come to HATE that POS Oldsmobile, so he drove the Suburban most of the time. I got my license in September, and the new Olds became my usual ride, as the Subaru got much better gas mileage, so my Grandmother preferred to commute in it. But a few days before Christmas, in a big snow storm, she slid off I-295 into the ditch driving home from work. No damage but to her pride, but she never wanted to drive that Subaru again - "it let me down". So they officially gave it to me for Christmas, complete with a big silver bow on the hood, and she started driving the Oldsmobarge. I MUCH preferred the stickshift Subaru as a car-mad 17yo.
Never received a car for Christmas, but I'm a huge of hand-me-down rides. You know the pedigree, and often get a great price if there is any money that changes hands. I currently split my daily mileage between my grandmother's final ride and another sedan that belonged to my mother until she recently decided she had to join the small SUV craze. My parents are older but have very new cars, and I could conceivably never buy another vehicle for the rest of my life if I was willing to drive theirs when they no longer can.
In 1976 my wife and I were coming home to Memphis from Alabama for Christmas. My Dad told my wife for us to drive the one car we had with a trailer hitch because my gift was so large it would require a trailer to get it home. On Christmas morning my Dad took me out to his shop and there was a new single axle trailer that he had built. He had made similar ones for others in the past. I still have that trailer today and use it frequently. Few other gifts I have ever been given have been more useful or lasted so long. The others I can think of are hand tools given to me from Dad or my wife.
I agree that Toyota styling is frequently bad. This one looks good, though.