My first car was a 1987 Volvo with a seat warmer and a Turbo Charger. The seat warmer (singular, because it only worked on the driver’s side) was still in fine working condition when I got rid of the car. The Turbo Charger failed sometime in early 2001. Not only would the car refuse to “turbo charge,” as it were, it stopped going above 35mph and died if it came to a complete stop.
My next car was a 1995 GMC Sonoma. I bought a truck to move from St. Louis to Virginia. Although it made this trip, other trips up and down the East Coast, and all the way back to St. Louis, for some reason I was afraid that it wouldn’t make it all the way to California, so I bought a brand new (at the time) 2002 Toyota Camry.
I fucking loved that Camry. It was so generic and simple, but I loved that fucking car. I would probably still be driving it today, had my now ex-husband not stolen all of my money and defaulted on every loan when I told him I wanted a divorce.
After the Camry was repo’d, I found some shitty lot way down on South Broadway and told the owner that if he only considered me on paper, he would be out of his mind to finance me. But I needed a car and I had three jobs, and one repossession in my life was enough. He agreed to sell me a car. When I asked him why, he said “because you’re not a shitbum.” When I asked “what’s a shitbum?” he answered “I dunno…you didn’t come in here with a cigarette in your mouth and a tallboy hanging out of your pocketbook.” My 1993 Toyota Tercel lasted until 2006, and by then it sounded like a fucking bomber jet mated with a go-kart and produced the ugliest bastard child imaginable.
I went back to the same lot to trade in the Tercel for a 1997 Chevy Lumina. Also known as The Lumina, The Lumi, The Beast, and, privately, sometimes, Stella, it is the car I still drive. I bought it with hail damage included, so even before I’d been driving it for five years, it looked like a group of toddlers was given a bag of hammers and allowed to crawl all over the thing. Since then, it has been hit by a flying road sign during a tornado. It has been crashed into by a 19-year-old college girl who cried hysterically and called me “ma’am.” It has been impounded by the city for being parked on a street that was allegedly being paved, although the actual paving did not occur for two more months. It has been attempted stolen by some asshole crackhead with a screwdriver and apparently zero real ambition. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it has been called The Worst Car In The Parking Lot At Work by not one, not two, but three co-workers. Plus myself.
You know, I kind of love that car. And while it still runs okay, it’s starting to shudder at higher speeds and I’m kind of afraid it’s going to explode on the interstate. Regrettably, I’ve had to admit that perhaps it is time for a new car.
Buying a car is tricky business for me, both because of the aforementioned ex-husband’s efforts to destroy my credit as well as my habit of only buying the things I can pay for NOW. Basically, I have no credit but bad credit, and that bad credit is eight years old. If I want to buy a house, I need at least two open lines of credit, and one of those is ideally a car loan.
I found a car on Saturday. It was a 2006 Dodge Stratus. It looked almost new. Plus, because of the downpayment I offered, I was going to get it for about $2,500.00 below Blue Book value and only have to make low payments for 10 months. If it checked out with my mechanic, who has been my mechanic since I was 16. And, um, he is also dating my mother. The bottom line is that I trust the guy completely, and I would never buy a car without getting his opinion.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have named the Stratus. All my cars have names. I may not use their names all the time, but they have them. The Volvo was The Vulva. The Sonoma was Charlene. The Camry was Percy, and he was a gay car. The Tercel was Corky (for obvious reasons). The Lumina is, like I said, Stella. The Stratus was going to be Sylvia. Naming the Stratus turned out to be premature, because my mechanic gave it the thumbs down this afternoon. It’s the engine. Apparently, Stratuses (Stratusii?) are built with three types of engines. If this car was built with a 2.5 or a 2.6 liter engine, it would be an excellent idea and a great deal. It was, however, built with a 2.7 liter, which my mechanic called a “time bomb” and implied that I would be a fool to buy.
So the Lumina lives to ride another day. The car that, according to Brennan, runs on the souls of the damned. It will continue to harvest the emissions of Hell and propel me Road Warrior-like through St. Louis. At least until this weekend or something, when I go looking for another car.