Don't fall in love with a creampuff

I recently realized that my car was almost paid off, and I started thinking of upgrading again.

But first a bit of a backstory.

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I’ve bought my last four cars off the same dealer, and he’s been pretty good to me. I fell in love with the first car (a baby-blue Taurus wagon — so sue me, I have odd tastes). I bought the thing outright, and was thrilled.

It lasted 18 months. Within a year, I’d blown both head gaskets. I somehow recovered from that, and 3,000 miles later the water pump went out and took out the entire engine.

(Lesson 1: do NOT trust Ford 3.8L V-6 engines.)

The dealer took sympathy with me, and steered me to a P.O.S. on his lot — an old, beat-up Buick LeSabre 2-door. Naturally, it had a history — 173,000 miles, and had been totaled at 68,000. It was ugly, uncomfortable, and the climate-control system was cranky.

I got 18 months out of that beast. Maintenance was less than $200 and when I traded it back in, it was up to 198,000 miles and needed a new blower motor — otherwise, it was still going strong. He sold it off to a guy for junking, who saw it still had plenty of life, fixed it up, and gave it to his son. As far as I know, it’s still soldiering on.

(Lesson 2: trust GM 3.8L V-6s. They are BULLETPROOF.)

I stepped up to a Dodge Intrepid. Goldish color, top-of-the-line engine and trim, all the toys and gadgets. Rode like a dream, was gorgeous, only problem was it needed an antenna. I was in love again.

Six months later, the engine melted down and totaled the car.

Once more in a jam, I went back to the dealer. He told me I could have my pick (he trusted me on the financing), but recommended this P.O.S. Cavalier. He said it didn’t look like much, but it was cheap and he’d just done some major work on it — it oughta last a while.

I sneered at it and oriented on a beautiful Pontiac Bonneville. Forest green, great shape, comfy and powerful as hell. I WANTED it. I didn’t care how long I’d be in debt over it, I loved the cats-eye look of the headlights, the general styling, all the power toys, the power and handling. It even had the GM V-6 I’d learned to trust in the Buick. This was THE car for me.

So I took the Cavalier. I’d learned my lesson about loving cars. It was small and rough-riding and looked like crap, but the dealer swore up and down it’d last.

It’s been a year, and so far I’ve spent barely a hundred dollars on servicing. Wiper motor, some brake and exhaust work — that’s it. I’m not all that fond or proud of her, but she’s never let me down. I think I’ll keep her a bit longer, maybe even see if I can run her into the ground.

She ain’t much, but at least I know she won’t break my heart.

J.

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