By Voula Martin
November 10, 2011
I am a purger, not a keeper. I don’t keep mementos from vacations or first dates, or special occasions. I don’t feel sad if I forget to capture the perfect picture of an event. And I don’t get the point of scrap booking.
But I get strangely attached to my cars.
My first was a 1979 electric blue Dodge Omni that we nicknamed the Blue Comet. It was kind of a beater but it was ALL MINE! I paid for it, applied for the insurance and handled the registration all by myself with no one else helping or guiding me. I kept that car for only 6 months but loved every minute of it. Even the week where the alternator was broken and my then boyfriend wired a battery from the front seat, hooked up via jumper cables to the car battery so that I could boost it if it quit on the road. Good times. And a perfectly logical solution when you’re 20 years old.
My next car was a 1979 Volvo. Loved that car. It was an even bigger beater than the first, worse on gas, not as reliable and certainly rustier. But I helped my Dad pull the engine from a scrap yard, carted countless drunken fools in the back seat, babied it through several winters of -30 parked in Lot 10 at the U of C , and defended its ugliness staunchly against anyone who dared say my baby was unsightly. Maybe my love had something to do with the fumes coming from the cracked exhaust manifold because a person would have to be high to love that car. We called it the Red Baron – it was certainly baron-like in its finickiness…
Then I got a K car, “a nice Reliant automobile” as the song goes, which came to be known as “Captain K’. We got it for peanuts, put about $2000 into it and it ran like a top for the next 5 years. Loved that car too but a sudden and mysterious electrical problem ended its tenure. This car was also the subject of many jokes, hauled more drunken fools, including one crazy engineering week pub crawl, and almost got us arrested twice. The first time was because of the drunken fools hanging out the back windows, the second time was because of ‘speeding’. Uphill. On the Coquilhalla. Loaded with scuba gear and two guys. My husband Lee argued that the only way this car could go 120 km/h, uphill, packed with heavy gear, would be if he drove it off a cliff, but the Mountie was not amused by this logic.
Lee decided to try to degrease the motor one day; sadly, it never started again (the aforementioned electrical issue) and the Captain was towed off to Davy Jones locker. Time for my second Volvo, this one a 1990, dark grey but otherwise identical to the first. It was a great car, reliable, fun to drive (especially in the winter with studded snow tires), and had a luxury I had heretofore never dreamed of – heated seats! However it didn’t have air-conditioning and after I survived a summer pregnancy in it, I declared that I would not have another baby until I had a car with air-conditioning. Never really named this one. Maybe it’s because we were a little older. Maybe nothing appropriate came up. Kinda sad really…
That’s when I became the primary driver of our “Big Golden Truck” as the kids call it. We’d had the big golden truck (the BGT) for almost 5 years at that point. We bought it because my husband hunts and fishes, we camp and well, we’re Albertans and we like trucks. My husband also needed a 4×4 as his job required a lot of construction site visits. But gas got up to about $1.15 a litre and we figured that, despite a gas allowance, we were losing money when gas was at that price. (As an aside, living in Vancouver now, I can only dream longingly of gas prices that LOW!)
So we bought a small SUV for him to use and I got the truck because I drove less. I was pregnant at the time and the BGT has air-conditioning, so that certainly fulfilled my previous requirements. And I love driving it. It handles well (for such a big vehicle) it’s nice to sit high, it has power windows and locks, and with the tonneau cover it’s great for hauling strollers and other miscellaneous kids stuff. Sucks to park at the grocery store, but I’ll take the good with the bad. One of my fondest memories of the BGT is bringing Helen home from the hospital; teeny little baby, big golden truck… Then there was the time I pulled up in front of Melissa’s house while 8 months pregnant, lugged my girth out, lifted my toddler from the back seat, then looked up to see the incredulous looks of all the construction workers around the street who seemed like they were expecting their foreman to get out of a pickup not a big pregnant lady. And there are, of course, memories of still more drunken fools hanging out the windows.
We realized this year that we would have to retire the old girl soon. Due to some unfortunate and ill timed circumstances with our SUV, the time is now. We have purchased her replacement, made arrangements to sell her and I’m looking for a car to drive. As much as the new pick-up has many cool new features and a car will be a lot more practical in Vancouver (where being a 2 pick-up family is as insane and impractical as owning a snowmobile in Arizona), I’m gonna miss the old girl. She carried us for over 215,000 kms. She moved us to our first house in Calgary then brought us to a new home in a new province. She towed our trailer and took us on adventures. She lugged home our meat from hunting trips, our Christmas trees, our toys, and our life for almost 10 years. She has never let us down.
So that is why, though I do not get attached to trinkets, or photos, or souvenirs, I am sitting here, irrationally crying over a vehicle. It’s been more than just a truck, it’s been like an old loyal friend. It’s been a part of my life, part of our family, for the last 10 years. The Big Golden Truck may be going to a new home, but she will not be forgotten.
*Although I write about several different makes of vehicles, and my trucks are obviously Fords, I received no promotional consideration or compensation of any kind for this story. These are my personal musings only and do not reflect in any way on these automobile manufacturers. -V