29. July 2009 · Comments Off on Time for Letting Go · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, Local, Memoir

So, it’s come down to this – I have to let go of the Very Elderly Volvo, AKA “The Pumpkin” which I bought from another NCO at EBS-Hellenikon early in 1982. It is a 1975 242 Volvo two-door sedan, which I drove all over Greece and Spain, across Europe and up and down the IH-15 between Southern California and Utah too many times to count, to Albuquerque and back, and from San Diego to San Antonio when we first came to Texas. I’ve had it fixed in five European countries and four Western states, but it is now at the end of it’s reliable life. There are two many little things wrong with it now, things that make it harder to drive, things that I can’t afford to fix, and every essay out of the neighborhood with it was a nerve-wracking experience, both for me, and for Blondie waiting nervously at home. Eventually, and as my daughter repeated pointed out, the likelihood that the VEV would break down in a bad spot, resulting in a degree of personal danger to me had increased dramatically. People had always been kind and helpful, during these incidents, but I really couldn’t go on trusting in Providence and the kindness of strangers for much longer. This had the result of limiting driving the VEV to within city limits – no long road trips, and then to within the radius of a AAA tow to my favored garage. This orbit gradually narrowed – only to the Hellhole job and back, and then one night I had an awful time getting it started. I began borrowing Blondie’s Montero for trips to work, and finally just left the VEV in the driveway, not even risking driving it within the neighborhood. And that essentially negates the whole purpose of having a car, never daring to take it out of the driveway. I had hoped that by this time I might be able to afford to have it rehabbed and made mechanically reliable – and although sales of both Adelsverein and To Truckee’s Trail are gratifyingly steady, neither of them are nowhere near #1 on Amazon.com (More like #100,000, give or take a couple of thousand – nice, but nothing enabling me to quit one of the day jobs.)

So, we’re going to put it up for sale, with the trunkful of spare parts included, in hopes of attracting the interest of someone with a mad passion for re-habbing classic Volvo sedans. I know they are out there, and it may take a bit, with the combined mighty second-hand sales organs of E-Bay and Craigslist. Knowing that Blondie and I were essentially sharing one car, and that our schedules would be completely incompatible, once she goes back to school this fall, Dad offered to straight-up buy me a car last weekend. He specified a budget that he was OK with, and suggested a 90’s Honda Accord with about 150,000 miles on it, as being tops for ease of maintenance and reliability, and old enough to be affordable. So, over the last two days, I ran a fine-toothed comb over all the Craigslist ads in San Antonio offering Honda Accords, and made the discouraging discovery that Dad’s target sales price of $2,000 pretty much limited to me to something not much more reliable than the VEV, and anything less than that was truly a beater. $5,000 seemed to be the going rate for what I really needed, and one dealer advised us that if I located any Accords on the market in decent condition and in good repair for less than that, to jump on it at once. We had actually found one – owned by an elderly lady who’s son was selling it, as she was unable to drive any more. It had high mileage, and needed a new compressor, but was in excellent condition otherwise, and had only the one owner – but as the car dealer had warned, that sold twenty minutes before we were to take a look at it.
Dad and I have settled on a low-mileage 91’ Acura sedan, at a price of a little less than $3,000, through the good offices of a dealer on O’Connor Road. Why we had to drive all over town, before finding the perfect car a mere hop-skip-and-jump from the house is just another one of the ironies. It’s sort of a pale gold color, was high-end with all the bells and whistles when new, the interior features buff-colored leather upholstery (somewhat worn, admittedly) and the exterior is pristine – no dings, dents or scratches. It seems to have had only one owner, who took excellent care of it. I test-drove it yesterday – it has a very smooth ride, turns on a dime, feels much more solid, and the AC works, too.

So, I shall have it by the end of the week, most likely – and perhaps I will feel better about emptying out all the stuff on the VEV – the maps in the glove-box, the odd things in the trunk, washing off the dust and the bird-crap, and taking some pictures of it to appeal to the auto-restorer who will – with luck, decide that he or she wants it for their next project.

Time for letting go. Of everything about the VEV, but the Greek medallion of St. Christopher on the dashboard, which the Greek wife of the guy I bought it from all this time ago stuck there. That goes onto the Acura – it did a good job for thirty years, and should be good for thirty more.

Comments closed.