QOTD: No More Mr. Nice Guy?

qotd no more mr nice guy

Thinking back, I can only recall a single instance in which someone who wasn’t a mechanic or dealer service tech borrowed my car. Seems unlikely, but that vehicle sitting outside isn’t a hammer or a cup of sugar. I’d protect it with my life. Which is why it’s only been out of my sight, under the command of another person, one one occasion.

My dad wanted to pick up a pizza, and his car was a boring automatic. Hand ’em over, sonny.

Other people are far more generous with their personal property, tossing their keys to anyone halfway trustworthy on the promise that they’ll return it in one piece. Which, of course, doesn’t always happen.

Clearly, I have no tale to tell about lending someone a fine, pristine automobile and having it returned a wreck, though my buddy recently relayed a terrifying tale of a prized Malibu that danced with fate and lost.

Many years ago, as a naive and idealistic university student (life took care of that outlook!), buddy lent his circa ’79 or’ 80 Chevrolet Malibu to a friend who was headed up north to work in the mines over summer break. My friend was heading out on the road for a sales job in a company car, so the two wouldn’t cross paths again for a couple of months.

Come the arrival of autumn, the Malibu and the friend showed up — one of them still serviceable.

It’s worth pointing out that my friend is something of an obsessive when it comes to maintaining cars, and this G-body coupe apparently left his grasp in near-pristine condition. No rust, no dings, and a solid 229 or 231 V6 mated to a three-speed auto. Decent power and reliability for the era. Having just replaced a used and abused mid-’70s Coronet, this stoic Chevy could have performed yeoman’s service for years to come.

Alas, it was not to be. The Malibu was returned with a noticeable list — the result of a front strut pushed well beyond its limits by an uncaring driver who took back roads too fast on the regular. No other suspension component made it out of the north woods in praiseworthy condition, either. The same can be said for the now-battered body, and sometime over that two-month span a hole the size of a large pizza pan opened up in the floor of the trunk.

Seems buddy’s friend was pretty nonchalant when he dropped the wreck off, too. “Never lend anything to a narcissistic hippie” is the obviously takeaway here.

To make matters worth, not long after the barely driveable car made its return home, a hobo chose to make it his own personal outhouse late one night. What had once been a respectable midsized car had now become a beat-up, creaking, urine-filled heap. Buddy sent it to the wreckers.

It’s a horror story that closely mirrors some of the many scenarios that fill an owner’s brain when someone asks to borrow the keys. Frankly, I don’t know how parents part with their ride. I know what happens on those nights when kids borrow the car, and it ain’t something I’d want done to, or in, my car by either a family member or a stranger.

Are you able to share any stories of a loaned car taking a wrong turn?

[Images: Toyota, General Motors]

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jun 05, 2020

    Rarely I have but to a very select group of people and only to the sorts of individuals that will help you in the same way. I had driven my FIL Terrain a few times and he drove my Highlander to an appointment in town.

  • Oreguy Oreguy on Jun 05, 2020

    My story involves a current co-worker - let's call him Bill. In the mid-70's (I don't know the exact year), his wife's younger brother was living with them for a period. One evening they ordered pizzas, and when time arrived to pick them up, the brother-in-law asked if he could use my Bill's '73 Mustang Grande for the pickup run. Bill agreed and tossed him the keys. About 20 minutes later, the brother-in-law called Bill, very upset, and explained that there had been an accident. No injuries, but the Mustang was totaled. I recall that insurance made Bill whole, but the replacement car was not a Mustang. Fast forward to about 2015. The brother-in-law (yes, still), called Bill and told him he found an exact copy of Bill's Mustang. Same color, and virtually all options the same. It needed some interior freshening, new wheels and tires, and the 302 needed and overhaul, but that was about it. The brother-in-law still felt guilty after all the years, but made it his mission to deliver the car to Bill (from Minnesota, to Oregon, where Bill now lives). The process was a little uncomfortable for Bill, because he felt strongly that his brother-in-law need not go through the expense and trouble. But nevertheless, the car was delivered and Bill absolutely loves driving it.

  • EBFlex "I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles"Assuming you went from 0 gallons to full (17.2), you have averaged almost 50MPG over those 2500 miles. 50 MPG in a Jeep Wrangler. To all of you EV nut jobs, tell me again how PHEVs are not the absolute best thing to happen to automobiles since the wheel. And tell me how they don't make EVs look like the awful play toys that they are.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird The Buick 215/3.5-liter aluminum V8 was one of GMs great engines. Unfortunately GM being GM in one of their greatest mistakes was selling off the tooling to BL. If they kept it around and improved upon it it would have been a fine motor for their compacts and midsize models through the OPEC oil crisis.
  • Chris P Bacon Not sure why a '21 is getting reviewed, because there have been improvements to the 4xe. I've got a '22 4xe Sahara. May 2022 build in High-Velocity yellow with a soft top. As soon as it was announced I knew I wanted to try it, not for the fuel mileage, but for the technology. I don't have a Level 2 charger, it charges fully overnight on the included Level 1. I see an indicated range of 27 miles regularly. Today it indicated 29 when I unplugged. I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles, a full charge costs me about $3 based on my current electricity supplier. I don't experience the rough transitions between electric and gas, so maybe Jeep figured it out? It's stupid fast when using all the power off the line. So much so that it will break the rear wheels loose when you stomp on it. I agree that plugin hybrids are the future. I see no need for a pure electric. This is the way to go.
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  • Luke42 Aren't those trim levels just different colors of paint?That's what they sound like, at least. 🤷‍♂️