Monday, November 16, 2009

Matty's Guide to Obtaining Vehicles

Many of you are the types of people who go through life driving your new/newish cars with few problems. Sure you have to take them to the mechanic for the occasional tune-up and oil change, but other than that, nothing major. Me (and Chad) on the other hand, will only get a vehicle if it is brand new or near death. In both cases, it is many trips to the mechanic, calling AAA for towing assistance and a continual spree of locating car parts and pulling engines.

We are cursed.

Take for example my 1972 Beetle ("Phyllis"). The car was purchased in 2001 in a dirt lot in Aurora. My first car. I got what I paid for and I only paid $250. Phyllis needed everything. Literally. She got all new paint, door and window seals, new seats, bumpers, radio, dash, switches, etc. etc. Over the course of 6 years I spent over $15,000 fixing up and restoring Phyllis. Phyllis broke down a lot in the first years. I quickly learned how to nurse her back to health, and she became a reliable daily driver. Then came the rust.

The thing about a Maaco paint job is that they don't do any preparation. The heater channels and rear quarter panels totally rusted out. I decided to re-restore her. Here is a picture of some of the rust.


I decided to take Phyllis out of comission and get a VW shop to do some of these rust restorations for me. It took an entire year and $2,500 more to get these repairs done. Poorly. I went through the repairs and had to re-repair. Phyllis is now at the body shop getting a full makeover. Here is a picture of her bad repair.


Here is Phyllis at the body shop almost ready for primer.


One thing about having an older unreliable car is that you can eventually get fed up and go overboard and purchase a brand new car. Never buy a new car. They depreciate too fast! I made this mistake a few times. I purchased a brand new 2006 VW Passat. The price was around $18K. Hmm, who thought a college student who works gluing rocks together can afford that kind of payment? Stupid! So I accidentally totaled that car and decided: hey, I should buy another NEW CAR! Let's go for the 2007 VW Passat! And while we're at it get a 2007 Jetta! Stupid. Traded all that crap back in and got a used 2003 Passat and a PT Cruiser! The Passat does okay, but is now nickel and diming us to death. dang it! I know - I'll get a new car....

I recently just made a deal with our neighbor friend to aquire their old 1991 Nissan Pathfinder. Sure the car has 270,500 miles, but she runs great. I'm sure this will end well. Beggars can't be choosers. We are happy to have the wheels. Actually the owner took really great care of the vehicle. Starts, runs and shifts great, and everything works. Try to find that in any car older than 1995!

Part of the problem living in the suburbs of Denver (listen to: Styrofoam Plates by Death Cab for Cutie) is that you absolutely need your own vehicle, if not two vehicles, when the other is in the shop. My wife recently tried to take the bus. Not only does the bus drive past you when the surly drivers don't feel like picking you up, but the bus costs more than driving your car to and from work. And way more inconvenient. Eff the bus.

Chad on the other hand, has 4 cars (and 1 scooter). We frantically try to get things fixed, but with fixing anything, boats, houses, cars, planes, you need to throw enough money at the problem until it goes away. We are putting an engine together for the 1975 VW Bus and he is collecting parts and putting together an engine for the 1967 Ford Mustang. The Poor 1996 BMW is near death and the 1972 VW Super Beetle was a donor car for the Bus. Maybe when Phyllis is fixed I can sell Chad the Nissan....

What is it about older cars (say 1998 and older) having 25 ashtrays and no cup holders? I guess people figured that as long as you were smoking you wouldn't be thirsty. And since everyone smoked back through the '40's through 'till the '90's nobody was thirsty. Maybe that's what archaologists will discover in 200 years. People smoked to avoid dehydration. Wait, that makes no sense - why does my chain-smoking great aunt look like beef jerky?


P.S. this isn't my great aunt, but doesn't she look like she's in Flavor Country?


  1. haha! I want to be in flavor country!
    I must say, I AM getting worse with my vehicles. remember the good old days when I'd buy cars left and right - but total them just as fast? Ah . . . crazy kids. At least I didn't have to constantly worry about where to purchase a cheap parking lot for my fleet.

  2. you both are cursed. AND slightly out of control!

  3. Fear not! The curse never goes away. One day you wake up and realize ALL your vehicles qualify for collector plates. And two of the manufacterers have ceased to be.
    Ah well, what's the fun in writing a monthly check to a faceless finance company verses the weekly conversations with the counter guy at the junk yard? - Per your Uncle Ben
    My advice to you both: embrace the horror. Life's more adventurous when you're never quite sure you're going to make it back when you head out to the grocery store.
    And a lot more fun.