Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Thing That Wouldn't Die

This fine piece of machinery is a 1981 Subaru four-wheel-drive wagon. I had a longtime, somewhat perverse desire to own one of these and about eight years ago the area vo-tech school put one up for sealed bid. Nobody bid as high as they had wanted (strangely) but I was closest and ended up purchasing it for $500. It had apparently quit running and was sitting in the parking lot for years winter and summer which led to interesting things like the dash developing @400,000 cracks and some of the plastic interior bits crumbling into dust. The automotive class got it running for the auction, at least sort of. After I got it I saw the odometer had a zero in front of the 52,000 miles clocked - I had assumed it was 152,000 from the appearance. I put another $400 or so into tires and repairs. Now it's hit 83,000 miles and sad to say is the lowest mileage vehicle I own.
But apparently in Japan they don't have rust. I'm losing the bottoms of the doors and the back hatch, and various holes including a sizable one under the back window. At least four times I've been going down the road on my 50-mile roundtrip commute to work and pieces detach themselves at 65 mph. I hear a CLUNK and watch the chunk of car cartwheel down the highway. I picture a day when I'll have only a chassis with seats tooling down US 77. The winters will be a bitch.
The car has developed more lovable quirks as the years go by. A hole in the floor is liable to let spray from the wheels through if the vintage Love floormat isn't kicked over it. The hood latch shot craps but a bungee cord hooked into a hole I drilled keeps it in place just fine. The right mirror got knocked off by a flying lawn mower (I choose not to elaborate at this time). The latest is occasionally no response when I turn the key, always at the least opportune moment. This can be remedied by violence: hit the battery connections and if that fails pull the spare tire out from under the hood and hit the starter. I've started carrying a ballpeen hammer (the Ass Ponys have a great song called 'Ballpeen' but I plugged them in previous post so I won't mention it). I added a bumper sticker to the hatch door: "Yes, It's Fast, No, You Can't Drive It." Whatever the opposite of ostentatious is, this baby defines it.
When the snow falls though, it chugs its way 25 miles into work, often past a lot of newer vehicles in the ditch, even a few big 4WDs. So it's not going anywhere.
I'm used to running cars into the ground and calling the junkyard to come get 'em. But this one may outlast me.

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