I made a post on here the other day about starting to hate cars, and I know that’s a bit dramatic but let me give some background before you judge. My first car was a V6 Mustang with 5 on the floor that I adored, but it was insanely unreliable. I went through a clutch learning to drive it but that’s my own damn fault. In the time I owned it, it went through a synchro, heater core, alternator, several coolant pipes, thermostat housing twice, harmonic balancer, blower motor, tie rod ends, struts, a brake caliper, and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten since. I was asked justifiably if I ever did any kind of maintenance and received reasonable suspicion when I swore up and down I did, but if nothing else my mother’s experience working in a shop and her prodding me about it kept the car in as good a condition as could possibly be expected from the second owner. It got Mobil 1 every 5k miles, new engine air filter every 10k, new fuel filter every 10k, it had dealer service at every major interval (20k), fluid levels and condition were checked weekly plus when I fueled, etc. It was fed a diet of strictly top tier ethanol free 91, even when I had to put my groceries on credit (I ended up putting on a canned tune to get a tiny bit of power out of that habit a few years in.) I grew up in a broken house and that car was my freedom and when I drove I was happier than I had any right to be. I made so many beautiful memories with that car, and then one day it went up in steam. The thermostat housing ruptured again, this time in single lane construction traffic going up a hill with no shoulder. It made it up the hill and I coasted down to where the cones ended by the power of gravity, but the block had a massive crack by then. It was replaced by an Escape that I really don’t like, it smells like smoke, has 180k miles on it, needs struts, locks don’t work because of flood damage etc. Kellie drives it most days because my commute is a lot further and it gets terrible economy (and also because her kindness can be earned by no man). It was bought for us as a gift by her parents, and of course I was extremely grateful to have transportation at all, but now they’re asking us to pay them for it and the rose colored glasses are off....overbearing inlaws, amiright?
My wife Kellie had a MAZDA6 that she felt the same about, automatic with a 4 cylinder but it had power accessories and leather and was the nicest material object she’d really ever interacted with, her parents weren’t poor, but growing up in a house of 6 things get tight and frugality does become quite necessary. It was rear ended at a stoplight at ~40 mph and was totaled. Fun story, the guy who ran into her was in his friends rental and didn’t have his license. He was cited for distracted driving after admitting phone use. It was replaced by a Sonata that we both loved to death. Very roomy, extremely economical, quiet, comfy, and very reliable...until suddenly it wasn’t. I had just put 4 new tires on, did a change of all the fluids, put new headlights in, changed the serpentine belt, and installed a new head unit when it suddenly made a noise like spokes in a bicycle wheel and lost oil pressure. I turned it off immediately but my reflexes weren’t fast enough. It threw a rod, and now it sits in a parts yard.
My cars have met violent and expensive ends, and all the spoils of enthusiast ownership didn’t save them. Yesterday we bought this 300 Touring and I am extremely happy. It’s just barely a half second slower than my old Mustang in the run to 60 and the quarter, gets almost 30 mpg, but most importantly, I took it to an independent mechanic before I bought it, who told me it was in “immaculate” condition. Some small scratches in the paint, a cloudy light, and a crack in the drivers seat leather were the only things he found wrong, and he looked at the frame, suspension, fluids, filters, exhaust residue, etc. I even paid extra to have the compression tested and the computer looked at to make sure there weren’t any recently cleared codes. It’s got 150k miles, and we paid at the top end of KBB value, but it’s SO NICE. A funny thing happened yesterday. I drove home and mashed on the gas and took an exit at a speed substantially higher than the advisory and that old feeling of exhilaration stirred anew, and all my debt, and all my anxiety about moving in a few weeks, and all the anger and the sorrow and the futility just melted away. And there was joy. And it was good. Thank you Jalopnik for giving me some escape from the mundanity that is sometimes life, and thank you Oppo for giving me a void to shout out into. I really don’t know what I’d do without you.