Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Sunday, July 25, 2004
Tale of the Car
I've been driving a Plymouth Neon since August of 1998. We were moving buildings at work the following January and the creaky old Honda I had to buy after Tune-Up Clinic set my Dodge Omni on fire was having trouble making surface roads, never mind 28 miles of freeway one way.

"Tucker" has been a lovely car. Unlike the newer Neons, this one had elbow room inside. We went up to Ohio with it, and I drove those nearly 300 miles to work every week.

At six years old, it had the usual problems: needed the brakes done, needed the usual oil change and tune-up. Also, the heater wasn't working well under 50° and the seals around the door were loosening. Plus there was a squeak somewhere.

The biggest problem is that the car had pretty much had a constant oil leak since I got it. I bought it at CarMax up at Kennesaw and although I took it back to them about every six months during the entire five years of the warranty, they never could fix it. Neons apparently have this head gasket problem.

Despite that, the car actually ran fine. Every once in a while between oil changes I would toss a quart in. The car was leaking when we went up to Ohio and we got 31mpg in it. I was still getting between 25-28mpg depending on the commuter traffic.

Back several years ago, though, Chrysler came up with this cute little retro car called a PT Cruiser which was built on a Neon base. Me, the 1940s/Remember WENN fan, set my beady little eyes on it as Pidge would look at a piece of millet.

The advice is always to let a car go a few years after it comes up to get "the kinks" out. That I did, and the clincher was when my friend Alice bought one. Alice's dad taught her all about cars and she only goes for a good deal.

So I started thinking about a new car this year, especially because Chrysler was running a $4000 rebate program. They kept pushing it to one month after the next, and I suppose I could have took the chance that they would push it to October, when I really wanted to buy a car. But with car prices as high as they were, did I want to risk that?

So Saturday we went out looking at cars. We started out at Ed Voyles in Marietta, for a simple little reason (besides being close): ten years ago, when Tune-Up Clinic messed up my Omni and didn't want to pay damages, we had the car towed to Ed Voyles and they kept it there until our lawyer called in what I guess you would call a "car forensics" expert. He determined the fire in the engine started at the fuel filter, which Tune-Up Clinic had replaced (probably badly; I saw them use a hammer to get something back in the engine), and they had to pay the damages. Anyway, Ed Voyles never charged us for the tow, or any type of fee for the car to sit on their lot for three months, or even to dispose of it. It was pretty nice of them.

We got to the lot at about 4:30. There were no parking spaces for customers and we had to park in a little corner. We saw a couple of salespeople taking some folks around in little golf carts. Well, I don't like to be attacked by salespeople immediately, so it didn't bother me when no one came right out. I thought they were just giving us a chance to look around.

We didn't quite like what we were seeing. They had all the high-end PTs, with the special paint jobs, stupid stuff like chrome gas caps and spoilers, running from $21,000 to $27,000. Since the PT came with a couple of things standard that I wanted (power windows, rear window defroster), all I wanted extra was automatic transmission and the combination CD/cassette player (so I could still plug in my .mp3 player and listen to radio shows during rush hour).

We were out on the lot about 15-20 minutes. By that time I expected someone to have come out to see us. Nothing. Hm. We went inside the showroom, thirsty, and asked if they had a water fountain. We were told it was in the back. We then walked back to the door through the showroom. The entire time we were there, there were three or four salesmen sitting around on two couches near the door.

Not one salesman bothered to even ask us if he could help us.

We walked out. I guess Ed Voyles wasn't interested in selling a car that day.

Anyway, we went out to Car Max in Norcross, which is also a Chrysler dealership. We were greeted once we walked in the door, told the salesman what we were looking for, and that we couldn't afford anything fancy, and he took us right outside to the lower-priced PTs and showed them to us.

Two hours later I had a new car, with a good loan and a not bad payment, on a car that had a lot more things that I'd even planned to get. I got the automatic and the CD/cassette unit, plus a sunroof, cruise control, power locks with the little remote, tilt steering wheel and adjustable height seat, a little drawer under the passenger seat, and tinted windows.

I had to compromise a little on the color, though. :-) I wanted silver or grey, what they had was purple. Oh, well, I've been driving a lavender-color car; a Concord grape color one can't be worse. It could have been worse; it could have been beige or spring green or {shudder} "champagne."

For now I'm calling it "Twilight" from the line in "Stardust": "And now the purple dusk of twilight time..."