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BEACON Senior News

My new cars have never been new

Jul 24, 2023 02:16PM ● By Sally Breslin

A friend called the other day to tell me he’d just purchased a new car.

“It has everything!” he gushed. “A push-button start, automatic emergency braking, built-in Wi-Fi, backup camera…” I stopped listening, but I’m pretty sure he also claimed it prepared his lunch and gave him a pedicure.

To me, a car is merely something that transports me from point A to point B. I don’t care what color it is or how many speakers the sound system has. All I care about is that it runs and doesn’t explode into flames when I turn it on.

Which probably explains why my current car is a 2004 that still plays CDs.

Before I got this car, I was driving a 1991 compact that was so basic, it didn’t have the word “power” associated with anything. In fact, it practically had no power at all. If I turned on the air conditioner while the car was trying to climb a hill, kids on tricycles whizzed past me.

The last time my mechanic checked out the car, he said the only thing holding it together was rust (this was before I moved to Colorado). And as far as the car ever passing inspection again, let’s just say I had a better chance of winning a bikini competition.

So reluctantly, I decided to go car shopping for a “new” used car.

When I drove into the car dealership’s lot in my 1991 compact (the year was 2008), the sales associate who greeted me couldn’t conceal his amusement.

“People like you are bad for business,” he said. “If everyone bought new cars only once every 15 or 20 years, we’d be in big trouble!”

“Well, I really like this car,” I said. “I’m being forced to part with it under duress. But I’m looking for a new-to-me used car. Do you have any cars similar to this one?”

He shook his head and chuckled. “I haven’t seen anything like that since Clinton’s inauguration. But if you were to buy a newer car—one that was actually made in the current century—how much would you be willing to spend for it?”

I had no idea how much cars were selling for at the time, but I blurted out what I thought was a pretty high figure, “Oh, I guess about $6,000.”

The look he gave me told me that for that price, I probably could buy a really nice moped.

But he led me to a 2004 vehicle that looked really impressive with its shiny red exterior. It also had power steering, power brakes and power windows. So I test drove it. 

It was the smoothest ride I’d ever had. By the time I returned, I was eager to buy it. The only problem was that it was a couple thousand dollars over my budget.

I glared at the sales associate. Obviously he was a sadist who was deriving some sort of sick pleasure from tempting me with a car he knew I couldn’t afford.

“I guess I’ll just have to wait for a while,” I said sighing. 

Then I used my secret weapon—the time-tested, never-fail, official Breslin “sad puppy face.” And that was how, back in 2008, I became the proud owner of a 2004 vehicle with 45,000 miles for $6,000.

And I’m still driving it 13 years later. I call it the “dogmobile” now because there’s so much fur in it, it looks as if it has mink seat covers. And there aren’t any armrests in the back seat because my dogs stood on them and broke them off. But with luck, I’m hoping to still be driving it in 2030.

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