Over the past few years, I've had a rocky relationship with cars. If I were smart, I'd still be driving my 1991 Toyota Pickup. It was the first vehicle I ever bought new, and I bought it cheap: no stereo, no cigarette lighter, and lots of blank spaces on the dash that hinted at other missing features. I put well over 100,000 miles on it and it never broke down. Even the original battery lasted about eight years!
I put the truck out to pasture and finally sold it, still in good shape except for a little rust, when I bought a 1999 Toyota RAV4. I bought it new, too, and ordered it in dark, metallic green with lots of fun, little extras that I'd missed while driving the truck for so many years. My plan was to keep it until it dissolved into a puddle of rust, but an errant teenaged driver threw a wrench in that idea. One afternoon as my husband and I headed to a football game, a girl in a compact car darted out directly in front of us. My RAV4 didn't look terribly banged up, but the body shop and insurance company thought otherwise.
That was the beginning of my bad car luck. I took the insurance settlement and purchased a 1997 BMW 318i convertible. I had a lot of reservations about it from the start and should really have thought it through more thoroughly before buying. For one thing, a woman who has assiduously avoided tanning her entire life really does not need to suddenly start exposing her 30+ year-old skin to solar radiation. But I bought it anyway, and drove it for a while in relative enjoyment (albeit with the top up most of the time).
At this point I was running my own business and my finances were getting rocky. The car seemed unnecessarily valuable and I decided I would sell it, buy an older and sportier car, and use the extra money to pay a bunch of bills. Unfortunately, that decision transpired around the time that, unbeknownst to me, the used car market tanked. I finally sold the BMW, but I lost money in the deal.
I took my sad little pile of cash, turned around and bought a 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo. It was beautiful and well cared for, and I drove it for a summer, garaged it for a winter, and then somehow broke its oil cooler line in the spring and trashed the transmission. It still ran, but I was concerned about it becoming a money pit, so I sold it to someone who wasn't intimidated by the repairs it needed and picked up a 1987 944S instead.
I've already discussed what happened next. Clearly I was being punished for the overweening, yuppie hubris of owning a pretentious German sports car. Wait until you hear the denouement:
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my car wouldn't start on Saturday morning. We'd had hard rains on Friday night and I didn't realize until Sunday that my car had gotten extremely waterlogged. If I'd known there was rain in the forecast, I wouldn't have driven the car that day at all (that's why I have the emergency backup car, an unassuming 1996 Ford Probe GT). However, for my punishment to be complete, I had to drive the good car.
I managed to get the car started on Sunday and drive it about a block up the street, but it had no power and the floormats were sopping wet. I parked it and called my insurance company on Monday, then had it towed to my mechanic. I felt fairly optimistic that it would be a case of getting it dried out, perhaps replacing some electrical components and then cleaning it thoroughly to remove the mildew smell. Not so. My husband called yesterday to break the news to me: the car has had it.
The book value is about $5,000 if you're being generous about it. I spent slightly more than that on repairs alone just a couple of months ago. This is not going to be pretty.
For now, I'll drive the emergency backup car, even though it still bears the lingering smoke smell thoughtfully left behind by the previous owner. When it gives up the ghost, I may very well go and get myself another RAV4. Who am I trying to impress?