Tomorrow, a tow truck will come to my house to take away The Other Woman.
In the spring of 2013, I visited my local title and registration office with a freshly opened envelope in hand. “My car is paid off, and the bank has released the title to me. I bought the car in Arizona, and now that it’s mine and not the bank’s, do I need to get a new title issued in Texas?”
“Does that title have your name on it?”
(Yes, that’s the response I got.)
Why pay more money, I thought? I’ve already given Texas my stupid yearly vehicle tax, and if the office says, “¯\_(ツ)_/¯,” well, then who am I to argue?
In 2008, I was beginning to get frustrated with the mounting costs of maintaining my running (and fun) 1993 MX-6. I had room in my budget to finance a car, and I resolved to make a purchase in early 2009. My criteria was, in priority order: Reliable, rear-wheel drive, fuel efficient. In researching these options, I discovered that Miata is always the answer. Oh sure, there was also the MR-2 and the S2000. American pony cars and boats didn’t meet the last criteria. But the Miata was especially easily justified, seeing as how I didn’t have children, and if I ever needed to move more people or stuff, my then-girlfriend had a sedan, and her dad had a Silverado. My colleague had a Ridgeline. If there was a time to get a roadster, it was now.
Throughout the second half of ‘08, I occasionally browsed Ebay Autos, Auto Trader, and Cars.com to just see what the market was like for used Miatas. As I mentioned before, the plan was to buy in ‘09. But in November of ‘08, I found the perfect car: a garage kept ‘02 Special Edition in Titanium over brown leather. (I wanted silver or grey.) It had just over 28k miles, was in Phoenix (a scant five hours away), and the dealer wanted $14,900 firm. I had to have it. So, that weekend, I picked up my friend in Las Cruces, drove to Phoenix, and bought it.
Prior to the Miata, all my cars had been hand me downs. This was the first purchase that I was making, all on my own. And I loved (and still love) this car. My then-girlfriend once snidely remarked, “I think you love this car more than me.” So, as a rebuttal to her comment, instead of referring to the Miata as Shourmobile v4.0, as tradition would dictate, I called it The Other Woman.
She outlasted that girlfriend. Although, to be fair, that girlfriend dumped ME. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In the summer of 2010, a middle-of-the-night hailstorm peppered The Other Woman with marble-sized ice. Insurance handled the repairs, minus the $500 deductible.
In the spring of 2011, I was cruising on TX-29, between Burnet and Liberty Hill, north of Austin, headed to see the aforementioned then-girlfriend. Came over a crest to find a deer, which I couldn’t avoid (without driving into an oncoming car). Insurance handled the repairs, minus the $500 deductible.
In the summer of 2012, the cracks and splits in the factory soft-top were fully leaking, so I had the top replaced. That aftermarket top never did open or close as easily as the factory top, but it got the job done.
February 2015, I fail to see a NASTY pothole, and drive through it with the passenger side. I render not only both tires unusable, but also manage to slightly crack the factory aluminum SE wheels. Four new aftermarket wheels was cheaper than buying two factory replacements.
Then, the freak November hailstorm.
The aluminum hood, the decklid, the tops of all four sexy-as-hell-coke-bottle fenders, massively dented. Cuts and rips in the soft-top where the hail clobbered it on the metal under-frame. At 158,000 miles, insurance declared it a total loss. I took the remainder of the payoff, and bought the Lexus LS400: Shourmobile v5.0.
I love this Miata, and bought it back from the insurance company, with the intention of slowly, over time, restoring her. Redo the bodywork, new soft-top, plus new struts were in order, and new seats, since the leather was coming apart. The truth is...it would have likely cost a small fortune. Since the weather has been insanely cold, I hadn’t driven The Other Woman since the first week of January, instead, favoring the heated seats in the Lexus every morning on the drive to work. Spring would arrive eventually. You know those grey-haired guys who have that 40-year old Cougar or Chevelle that still looks and runs great, and it turns out that they’ve actually owned that car and kept it on the road for most, if not all, of those years? I wanted to be that guy, and I wanted The Other Woman to be that car.
February 9, 2016
“We’ve run into an issue, and we can’t close your claim. Your car is titled in Arizona.”
“We were operating under the assumption that your car is titled in Texas. As we discussed when processing and paying out your initial claim, hail damage does not constitute a salvage title in Texas when the car is totaled.”
“I’m guessing that in Arizona, it does?”
“A total loss declared due to hail does indeed require a conversion to a salvage title.”
“Okay, so, what do I need to do.”
“Well, there’s more. Texas law forbids the operation of cars that are salvaged-titled from out of state by its residents.”
Long pause...deep sigh. “So...what does this mean, then?”
“We have to take the car back. You can’t own it or operate it. Let me reiterate that this is not OUR policy, this is Texas regulations forcing us to do this. You can’t even drive it to us; we have to send a tower to pick it up. And all we are allowed to do is sell it for parts. I’m really sorry.”
Yesterday, I handed over the title and signed the power of attorney. My insurer handed me a check for the amount that I had paid to keep the car. (Really, they had just deducted it from the payoff.) Today, I cleaned out all my belongings, and despite no longer owning the car, I decided to take her for one last spin. It was a beautiful day today, perfect for one last topless sprint.
As if she knew what fate had resigned us to, her starter refused to budge. The battery, having been frozen and thawed over six weeks, and not charged due to use, only provided only a few light clicks as I turned the key. “It’s okay,” she whispered. “Let me go. I’m ready.”
I like to think that one day down the line, I’m going to buy another one. But it won’t quite be the same as this one. And that’s okay. But, in my opinion, she is going to die an undignified death...an unnecessary one. That, to me, is the real tragedy. I can only hope that her engine, her wheels, and whatever other parts people will buy, will find new life in reviving some gearhead’s garage project. Still, disappointing.
So why tell you guys this stuff? Because you’re Oppo. You’re Jalop. You understand. And, also, so that we all learn.
1. Thoroughly research your state’s laws concerning titles. Never believe a clerk that says, “¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”
2. Also, I hate Texas.