The first thing I need to do is decide what I’m gonna look for…my parameters, so to speak. (The interested reader should understand that I was looking for a used-econo-shitbox-chick-car.)
Here’s what I came up with:
1—I want something with a 4-cylinder, because fuel prices will most assuredly climb back to stratospheric levels. I want it to get around 30mpg or better.
2—I want it to be smaller, but at the same time capable of hauling five people if need be.
3—I want it to have 70,000 miles on it or less.
4—I want to be able to pay for it in full at time of sale, because I don’t want a car payment, and because I don’t want to put full coverage insurance on it, and because I'm a cheap bastard.
5—Because I am full of hate, and unless I find a deal I can’t refuse on a foreign make, I will look at American vehicles exclusively.
6—I don’t want to spend any more than $6000. Less would be much more better.
7—I will look for my new car only at dealers’ lots. No dicking around with private sellers, because my time to shop is very limited.
8—A manual transmission would be great because they are cool and fun. Also, the dumb ass losers who steal cars can’t drive a stick shift because they are inbred morons, so maybe they’ll leave my ride alone.
9—Appearance won’t make one contemplate suicide.
Now then…how will I pay for this imaginary vehicle?
The tanking stock market was my answer.
See…I have an IRA account, and I have been watching its value drop at alarming rates for several months. This kinda thing pisses me off, because I’m seeing my hard-earned money being flushed down a rat-hole, and I’m getting absolutely nothing in return.
So, I figure, why not get some of that cash while it’s still there, and, before it goes up in flames, use it for something real and valuable?
That’s what I’ll do.
With the financing issue resolved, I narrow my search to a handful of vehicles. I will list them for you now, and give you the reasons why I didn’t choose them:
Ford Focus—Couldn’t find one quickly that fit my requirements. Looks were OK, but I never drove one. Most of them I could afford were high-mileage and ragged out. I got the impression they were a throw-away vehicle which wouldn’t last. Assembled in Mexico, with a tendency for electrical issues and engine fires. I’ll pass.
Chevy Cobalt—I really like this car’s looks, but never got a chance to drive one. This model is fairly new too, so its selling price was kinda out of my range. Was assembled in Ohio up until the 2009 model year, when production will be shuffled off to Mexico. Nice move, GM.
Chevrolet Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire—A total chick car, whose looks didn’t get me high. Pretty good reviews and history, and probably would have worked out OK, but never drove or looked at one closely. It would never have excited me to own one.
Pontiac Grand Am—Another chick car, but not as much. Looks were run-of-the-mill yawn festival. Bigger than I really wanted. Sucky mileage. Long history of front springs breaking. Pain in the ass for the shade tree mechanic to work on. My niece had one, which I drove and seemed OK, but her dad has horror stories about fixing it. Pontiac excitement my ass. Hell no.
Ford Escort/Contour—Ford’s older economy models. Good reviews, but usually worn-the-fuck-out, high-mileage shit-boxes that were depressing as hell to look at, and would have been even more depressing to own and drive. Reminded me of a door-to-door pots and pans salesman, trying to make a buck during a cold wet dreary winter day in a run-down section of town. Makes me want to drink myself into oblivion, slash my wrists, or swallow the barrel of a gun. No thanks.
Dodge Neon—There’s eleventy billion of them on the road. Uninspiring looks. Chick car. Too generic. Not my bag, baby.
Saturn—Very high on my list. Good reviews and history. Saturn owners are sorta weird, and they love their cars and drive them until they quit running. That’s probably why I couldn’t find one for sale anywhere.
A lot of Saturns are made with plastic body panels…a great thing if you live in the rust belt and the roads get salted in the winter.
Saturns are chick cars, but most of them have their own special look and they won’t make you fall asleep when you gaze at them.
There is one Saturn, though, that is not a chick car. It is called the Sky, and it is badass!
It is also know as a roadster, maybe, and should be the pace car for the Indy 500.
Roadster means it has a huge engine up front with a correspondingly long hood, one or two seats, and a short tail.
I don’t know if the Sky is a real roadster or not, but it’s cool, and it’s not a girl car.
This is a real roadster, though.
I thought you should know.
Chrysler PT Cruiser—An old folks/chick car to be sure. Unique/retro looks which have been copied by just about everyone now. An original. Long history of typical Mopar quirkiness that will make one curse profusely…something I’m used to by now having owned two Mopar minivans. Lots of custom aftermarket goodies available if one so desires.
I thought the PT Cruiser was manufactured by good old American/Canadian union labor....but it's not.
It's assembled in Mexico.
America doesn't manufacture anything anymore....except stupid shit like websites.
Anyhoo...I bet you can figure out which one I bought.
It's a 2001 PT Cruiser Limited Edition.
Limited Edition means one must pay a higher wheel tax in Indiana.
Back in olden times when they were first introduced, my buddies and I used to call PT Cruisers “shrunken milk trucks!”
That’s not a very nice thing to say.
I call mine The Rollerskate.
Here are some statistics about my new ride:
2.4 liter 4-cylinder fuel injected engine, aftermarket Hurst close-ratio 5-speed, cold air induction kit with high flow reusable K&M filter cone thingy, Gibson exhaust and fart pipe, LED taillights, sunroof, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, dark window tint so I can drive around town naked and smoke pot, chrome wheels with low-profile Michelin tires, Kenwood AM/FM CD/MP3 disc player with a mini-jack for connecting an MP3 player (removed from the Caddy and installed in PT by me). I put the original Mopar radio from the PT in my wife's Grand Caravan because her radio took a shit.
The cool breath even works! A first for me!
I'm excited about my new ride.
My 15-year-old son doesn't like the PT much...says it's a chick car! That's fine with me. I like chicks, and the more he doesn't like it, the more it means he won't be driving it when he gets his license.
My 13-year-old daughter likes it, though. She says it's "cute."
I say it's cool...not cute.
My 13-year-old son didn’t care much one way or the other initially. Now he says he loves going for a ride in it.
My wife likes it. She is a rare breed of woman who likes to row the gears.
I know, it's a chick car, but it's fun as hell to drive. It handles like a sports car.
This thing fits like a glove and is cozy.
I love it! And it's paid for!
I'm told it will get almost 30mpg. We'll see.
I initially looked at that red Pontiac Grand Am you see in the background. It was unbelievably clean, and looked really nice. But, when I pulled the oil dipstick out, there was a wad of white milky goo on the end of it...indicating anti-freeze in the crankcase.
Could have been a cracked head or block, or a blown head gasket, neither of which did I have any interest in pursuing.
Knowing a little something about cars can be valuable sometimes.
Anyhoo…I said, "No thanks," and looked at the PT Cruiser.
The rest is history.
Thus endeth the trip down my vehicular memory lane.
It has been a long and strange one.
Has it not?
Keep on truckin.'
It has been a long and strange one.
Has it not?
Keep on truckin.'