I miss my black V70 a lot. 122,000 miles on a mint condition, two owner, black on tan, T5 wagon that was effectively my dream car. I loved carving the wagon through corners and hearing that little turbo whistle at the top of the rev range, but then tragedy struck. Also, I broke my back.
It’s a vivid memory, and at times surreal. On Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 4:27 PM, I was run off the road by a Ford F150 on a notorious s-curve with some pretty gnarly elevation change. The truck was running way left of center as he was coming down the curve, while I was traveling generally within the speed limit safely, and suddenly it was a fight or flight decision, a life or decision, a decision that pretty much decided how I would live the rest of my life. Do I let the truck hit me or do I swerve towards the embankment?
In situations like this, one has nanoseconds to react and figure out what their next move could be, but I knew I couldn’t let this truck simply run into me. Sure, I was driving a Volvo, a nice, safe car that will live among the cockroaches and dust long after our species is gone, but still going head on with a whole ass truck doesn’t really seem to be the best course of action. So I swerved, hit the embankment, and severely fractured the L1 and L2 vertebrae in my spine.
The driver of the truck continued down the roadway, obviously ignorant or oblivious to the situation that had just occurred. I sat on in the rear of the car for about an hour before being transported to the hospital, angry, in pain, and looking for answers.
Later, the emergency room doctor said I was, “this close,” to being paralyzed, as he held up his index and middle finger very close together to signify the gravity of my injury. Right that second, I knew something would have to change. After all, I had totaled three cars in the span of a year, and I knew I was the person solely responsible for the financial burden put on my family and the ever growing Volvo graveyard in my driveway.
Recovery wasn’t actually too bad, I was just confined to a very ugly back brace instantly nicknamed, “The Aluminum Monster,” by my friends for obvious reasons, along with taking one 1000mg ibuprofen pill daily, and after eight or so weeks life was pretty much back to normal. Sure, it hurts to walk, or stand, or sit, or lay down, or breathe, or exist, and don’t even get me started on running distances longer than ruler, but life is pretty much back to normal.
My mother decided that she wasn’t going to pay for anymore cars, a decision which I believe is justified, making me responsible for my next vehicle. At the time I was still in high school (I graduated in June), but still worked about 25 hours a week at a local French bakery, and it paid enough for me to slowly save up to buy a car. Not just any car, My car.
I’ll tell you, scrolling through Craigslist searching for operable vehicles for less than $1,500 in my area is not an easy task. Some cars will be a variety of colors, others won’t have titles, many don’t seem safe to drive, but most are just plain garbage. Then I came across my Nissan Maxima.
The ad was simple, and at first I thought it was a scam. The pictures only showed the original window sticker and the description didn’t really say much. What the ad did say was the owner possessed every maintenance record since new, but the car had high mileage and it, “needed to go.” With my interest piqued over this supposed promise of lengthy service history, I decided to give the owner a call.
The owner, Brian, told me over the phone that he originally leased the car from Southern States Nissan in Raleigh, NC in the summer of 2005, and bought out the lease at the end of the term so his oldest child would have a reliable ride through college. I thought that was simple enough and believable, so he gave me his home address and we set up a time to meet later in the day.
Still not knowing what the car looked like, I pop his address in Google Maps and there, sitting in his driveway, was a white, 2005 Nissan Maxima. Bullseye.
A few hours later, I drove up to his house to inspect the Maxima and that was when I heard a little more history about the car. Not just one of his children drove this car through high school and college, but at one point, all five of his kids have. Mileage started climbing as the car was shuffled from kid to kid and college to college, all the way to 231,000 miles before it came in my possession.
And boy am I lucky I am the sole caretaker of an absolute performance and luxury machine. Sporty? Yes. After all, the sixth generation Maxima featured a similar VQ35 V6 engine found in the 350Z, but detuned a little to 264 HP and 255 lb. ft. of torque. All that fire breathing power is sent through that five-speed automatic that Nissan, much like the VQ35, stuck in pretty much all their models throughout the 2000's, or a purist’s special six speed manual transmission. My car, as it is in Dad Spec, has the automatic.
We also can’t talk about the Maxima’s sporting potential without mentioning it’s luxurious appointments. Leather and heated seats, a sunroof, a rather proprietary navigation system, Bose audio, and the crown jewel of car options: a heated steering wheel. Sure, its 90+ degrees right now and the humidity is at an easy 420% here in NC, but come January, that heated steering wheel is going to be nice and comfortable. It’s like built in gloves!
Also, the service logs that came with the car are no joke. We’re talking about a thickly stuffed manila folder with maintenance work that dates back to 2008. Everything from few-dollar clips and switches to all-encompassing engine and transmission jobs that cost thousands of dollars to complete. Hell, a few weeks before I was sold the car, Mr. Brian shelled out $4,800 to just get the car prepped for sale. $4,800 to fix a car with 231,000 miles that he was about to sell at a much lower rate.
How much lower, you ask? $3,500 less, to be precise. I bought my Maxima, before tags an taxes, for $1,300 and it has been practically perfect for the 7,800 miles I have driven the humble sedan since I bought it back in January. I mean, sure, it does require two quarts of oil per week (head gaskets are fine, needs new piston rings eventually) and it looks like it takes a fat rip off of a Subaru owner’s vape whenever it starts up, and, yes, there is a nice dent in the driver’s door from when a dear decided to kamikaze itself into the Maxima, but other than those minor issues, its fine.
Hell, The Mr. Brian put a fresh set of OEM 18" wheels on the sedan a couple years ago because the old set was, “getting to worn,” and he, “didn’t like it.” The interior is also in mint condition with zero signs of age, making me feel like I’m actually in 2005, Motorola Razr and all.
The 7,800 miles I’ve driven the Nissan have been really careful miles. After crashing three cars in such a short amount of time, you learn a lot. Pay more attention, be aware of your surroundings, know what your priorities are, and don’t be an idiot. I am happy to report that I haven’t crashed a car in over eight months, and will probably never crash a car again.
Actually, I really can’t crash any cars due to my new job. I quit the French bakery I was talking about earlier, and will soon start working at a local Chevrolet dealer as a, “delivery specialist.” The job entails teaching people how to use the infotainment systems in their new cars along with selling them on accessories (“No sir, a crab leg dispenser is not an available accessory on your Silverado.”), and I’m really excited to start working in the automotive industry fresh out of high school, and am constantly thinking about all the good car-times that are ahead of me.
Either way, yes, hello, I am still alive. I do apologize about the length in time between posts, I have just been rather busy and honestly have been a bit embarrassed about this situation but decided now was the correct time to share.