I bought a new car last week. This is a pretty big deal for me, because I tend to hold on to cars. In 30+ years of car-buying, this is my fifth. The numbers average out to a car about every eight years, but that average is skewed by the length of time I had my first car, which was only three years. Maybe a list will elucidate:
- Car #1 — 1978 Ford Fiesta, purchased in 1988. It had no air conditioning, and its odometer didn’t work. It was permanently stuck at around 65,000 miles, to my memory. It did a great job for my years at the University of Arizona, but that no-air-conditioning-thing was a killer in the desert. Shortly after I graduated and landed my first full-time job, I traded in the Fiesta and bought:
- Car #2 — 1991 Nissan Sentra, purchased new. The Silver Bullet. I loved that car. It moved with me from Arizona to California, and I drove it until its get-up-and-go was gone. By the time we parted ways in 2002, it had no resale value, so I donated it.
- Car #3 — 1999 BMW 3-series convertible, purchased in 2002. I also loved that car, but it definitely falls under the aspirational, as opposed to practical, category. It moved with me from California back home to Louisiana, where the impracticality of a convertible in the rainy south soon became apparent. But, hands-down, the most fun to drive out of all of them.
- Car #4 — 2011 Audi A4, purchased new. My first car with an automatic transmission, and my first car with four doors. Its engine was a bit wonky, and gave me some issues during our first few years together, but it was all covered under warranty, so it’s tough to complain.
The one thing these cars all have in common? Our farewell song. My final drive in all of them included Neil Young’s “Long May You Run” playing on some sort of device. I’ve never encountered another song more aptly suited to the occasion of saying goodbye to a long-time, trusted, automotive companion. Here’s just a snippet of the lyrics:
“Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you run.”
That phrase “chrome heart” is so evocative. In fact, I have a good friend (you know who you are) whose original title to his original feature film was Chrome Hearts. But that’s his story to tell.
Oh, and Car #5 is a 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, just in case you’re curious. It was time for practicality (and economy) to reign in this area of my life.