100 Things About Me #105

My Latest Car
I drive a 1993 Saturn SL2 sedan. I rolled it off the showroom floor -- without training wheels -- on Christmas Eve, 1992.

It was a newborn, child.

Holiday irony.

That night, I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, in hopes that Santa would soon have that New Sleigh Smell. I was delirious.

211,264 miles later, I am into year 15 of driving the most amazing vehicle I have ever known -- except for those discombobulating tea cups at Disney World.

Oh, and, yeah, there was the time I swiped the Popemobile for a joyride guilt ride to a drive-in theatre to see "Rosemary's Baby" and "Smokey and the Heretic."

(That was a bad night. All the cars behind me were honking during the show, with a stream of viewer shouts, "Hat down in front! Hat down in front!")

I have not made a car payment since 1996. I am paid in full.

My rule of thumb has always been: if I can get five years out of a car, I'm happy. I've gotten three cars out of this car and I expect to get four cars out of this car. I'm not only happy, I'm cheap.

Actually, that's not true. I would have been pleased to acquire a new car as far back as 1997, but why get rid of a perfectly good vehicle that causes few problems and is more than economical (although not ecumenical) to drive?

Mike's car passes the magic 200000 miles.My wife has her own '93 Saturn SL2. She bought it a few months after mine and is currently clocking an excess of 325,000 miles of service and indignation with roadhogs.

My brother inherited my mother's '93 Saturn. I don't know how many miles Bill's accumulated, but between us, we've driven these cars nearly 44 years.

Even more remarkable, five years ago, perhaps longer, a tree fell on my Saturn. The sedan was toast. And it had assumed toast shape, too.

The roof was flattened and the front and rear windshields were ruined. The insurance adjuster declared the car as a total loss and was prepared to give me his parting check of $4,000, the market value.

"But there is nothing wrong with this car!" I whined. "The engine is perfect. There is a lot of mileage left here."

He plucked another leaf off the branch crumpling the wipers and looked at me with a hint of astonishment. "It's only worth four grand," he said.

"Not to me. It's worth the 30K that I don't need to spend on a replacement car. What if I find a way to fix things for less than $4,000?"

He was skeptical, but agreed to the rescue effort.

The car was repaired for $2,200 and looked and worked like original issue, complete with the aroma of New Band-Aid Smell.

Nowadays, my Saturn would command a few hundred dollars at trade-in, however I might have high expectations. It could be worth nothing or less.

Why is this man smiling?

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