Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Long Road Trip Continues

Twenty-five years ago today — January 5, 1989 — I got on a plane in Denver and flew to the frigid climes of Traverse City, Michigan, to pick up my new car.  As I wrote five years ago, “My dad had found it for me through his friend Ernie Pobuda, the owner of the Hertz used car sales office in Traverse City. My 1984 Subaru had been through some engine trouble the summer before, including a blown oil sender unit seal that nearly prompted a lawsuit with the dealer who had sold me an “extended warranty” that initially denied my claim that the seal was a part of the engine and drive train. So for $12,700 — $4,000 of which came from me selling the Subaru back to the dealer — I bought a fully-loaded 1988 Pontiac 6000 LE Safari station wagon with 5,846 miles on it.

When I arrived at the dealership, Ernie asked how much my one-way airfare from Denver to Traverse City was, and when I told him $200, he knocked that off the sale price of the car. I drove it off the lot that afternoon, and the next morning drove back to Colorado. I’ve been driving it ever since.”

And I still am, twenty-five years later.  A year ago it became an official antique and participated in its first national Antique Auto Club of America meet last February.

Through the years:

Ten years old -- January 2009

Ten years old — January 1999

Twenty years old -- January 2009

Twenty years old — January 2009

Today -- January 2014

Today — January 2014

It was the car we took Sam home in when he was six weeks old and just adopted, and the car he rode in on his last journey thirteen years later. It’s been in parades, it’s delivered windows and doors to job sites, and it’s survived brutal Michigan winters and Florida hurricanes. It’s had its breakdowns and the usual expenses that come when a car has over 250,000 miles on it, and some people wonder why anyone would hang on to an unremarkable model of a car that isn’t even built anymore.

It’s hard to explain without going all pop-psychology, but as I noted in an article for the club’s newsletter last summer, it takes me back to the simple joys of family trips, of days at the beach or the ski slope, of going to places with friends and family, and carrying on a bit of family advice handed down by my grandfather who told his sons when they were starting out in life that Pontiacs were good cars.  They still are.

2 barks and woofs on “A Long Road Trip Continues

  1. My sister is a big Pontiac fan and it’s all she has driven for 50yrs. She bought a new Pontiac just before they stopped making them;btw my uncle Frank was also a big Pontiac fan.

  2. “… some people wonder why anyone would hang on to an unremarkable model of a car that isn’t even built anymore.”

    Sorta like the unremarkable Hudsons and Packards and De Sotos and Ramblers and Studebakers? Hell, even Duesenberg probably had ONE unremarkable model!

    Doesn’t matter what others think. If you like the car, keep it, fer cryin out loud. (And laugh at all the folks with everything tied to the top of the Corolla, or sticking out the trunk of the Fusion).

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