Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Decided today to junk the old car rather than fix it.

It's a 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva and it's been in a steady decline for years now. Sensors and gauges don't work. The speedometer doesn't work. The front fender has been held together by duct tape for nine years. But it ran. One son drove it for two and a half years of high school and almost four years of college. Second son called it his own for the last nine months. But something--multiple things, are broken in the engine and it's no longer worth fixing. So I'm junking it.

But not without shedding a few tears. This was my husband's car, and when GM's ads used the slogan "It's not just your car, it's your freedom" they were talking about Lon. His freedom, his identity, his self-worth were tied up in the purchase of that car eighteen years ago, probably in more ways than I wanted to know at the time. It still carries many complicated memories of his eccentricities, the things he relished, as well as his faults and failures.

I never liked this car. It had a dependable GM engine, but so many other things about it were cheap. Pieces of interior trim have been coming loose and breaking for the last decade. The back seat was never large enough for our three children, especially when two were still in car seats. The electrical system was always doing odd things. Once, in the early morning hours of our annual summertime drive to northern Wisconsin, I had to dig out the owner's manual to figure out which fuse to pull to shut off the car's interior lights.

Still, it was Lon's car--a dark red, manly color. A General Motors car, made in America. Not a car for the type of consumer who researches quality and ends up with a Toyota or Honda. It was the car that seemed to fit his image, his personality when he bought it. He would have been happy to share it with his sons. I think he would have been happy to see it turn into the old beater that it was, suitable for parking near the high school, ideal for driving to DiNico's for a slice of pizza after school or after practice.

Lon used to name his cars. There was Reggie, the Buick Regal, and Kid Blue, the Chevy Malibu. If this car had a name, I don't remember it. I think it's dumb to name cars, and I never adopted the names Lon thought up for the cars I drove--the Dodge Dart, the Nissan, the Taurus. Cars are places to me, not companions--places in which I remember things happening, remember eras as well as trips and errands. Today has been a day for thinking about those bygone eras, and wondering what lies ahead.

So farewell, '92 Achieva. I'll say a prayer about the future.


Cars4Charities said...

don't junk your Olds, donate car to charity. When you donate your car to charity, you'll get a $500 tax deduction. At Cars4Charities, you can select from hundreds of fine charities to donate a car. They'll pickup your car donation for fre.

Gwen Gotsch said...

They don't want this one. I'm sure!

Susan said...

I remember the Nissan and the Taurus, and I even remember hearing about "the new car" when the Achieva was new. This is the end of an era, that's for sure, but also the beginning of another one.