We said good-bye to our 1993 Caravan today. We’ve been keeping it out in San Francisco where we have a fair number of cases, because paying the monthly bill for long-term parking at SFO is cheaper than renting an accessible van — at $120ish per day — every time we’re out here. We just bought a new van in Colorado, which permitted us to bring our 2002 Caravan out here, and say farewell to the 93. We’re parting from the van we got married in! *sniff* OK, we didn’t strictly speaking get married in the van, but we did get a free meal on the way to our honeymoon when the drive-through lady saw the “just married” verbiage all over the side of the van. Thanks, Mark!
Enough sentimentality! We also say goodbye to the dead radio, nonfunctional odometer (really! only 60,000 miles in 17 years!), and a steering wheel that made driving from SFO to Berkeley feel like piloting a small plane though intense turbulence. The Caravan has hubcaps, but only following hours of intense philosophical debate after the theft of the old ones: hub caps do not, as an engineering matter, contribute to the operation of the car vs. hub caps are essential bad-ass accessories. I’ll let you guess who was on which side.
I have been lucky enough to have reached the age of almost (still almost) 50 while having parted from only two cars: the 93 Caravan, and the 1978 Malibu that belonged to my father, that I drove during law school (85-88), and that I sold when I got the Honda Accord that I still own. The 78 Malibu was the Worst Car Ever Made. I know some of you Pinto and Gremlin owners want to claim this title, but in the 1978 four-door Malibu, the rear windows didn’t open. Didn’t Open. Not as in the handle (remember them?) was broken; it didn’t have a handle. Or an automatic opener.
When my father took it back to the dealership to point out this obvious defect, he was told that it was a new feature designed to “increase the leg room.” Any further questions why the Japanese auto industry kicked our asses in the 70s? If I recall correctly, the car was also stuck in second gear for most of the first year my father owned it, which the dealer did finally correct. My dad was thrilled with the improved mileage.
No, we’re not very car savvy in this family. “Change the power steering fluid? Power steering has fluid?” That’s me, wondering why the Malibu suddenly wouldn’t turn.
In law school, my second biggest expense after tuition was new alternators, which the Malibu seemed to require every few months. Upgrading to an Accord in my third year brought the revelation that you can actually drive a car for weeks at a time without requiring repairs! And the 88 Accord continues to thrive — 22 years later — stubbornly refusing to fail and provide a good excuse for a new second car.
Update: We may be able to sell the Caravan to our co-counsel — see above, Josh; you’ve been warned! — leaving open the possibility of visitation rights!
Sis, Wow – I have fond memories of that 78 Malibu, including watching dad nearly spontaneously combust (can human beings really spontaneously combust? Is that debate even settled yet) when he got it home to show off to the kids and you sat in the back seat and asked the question, “um, dad, where’s the handle to roll down the window?” I also remember borrowing it in college one summer in Philly and rear-ending the crap out of someone. I had no money to fix it and had some time on my hands between games of beer pong, so I decided that was as good a time as any to self-teach myself how to do auto body work. Let’s just say I didn’t put Maco out of business. Dad, of course, ultimately paid to have it fixed. The footnote to the story for you class action lawyer types is that the dude I rear ended was driving a Hertz rental car. We had to pay Hertz (read: Dad had to pay Hertz) for the damage to their car. About 10 years later, we got notice that we were part of a settlement in a class action against Hertz where they would charge people double or triple their actual costs to repair damaged vehicles.
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