New car experience

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

My daughter drove over to the house in the new car she bought recently. She was the last one of our three children to have given up the
parent-furnished, older car for a new one, which, by the way, is non-parent financed.

This is fancy, I remarked right away. Nice and white. Wow, look inside. A video monitor, built-in everything, fancy rear-view camera and guidance system to make sure that you don’t back into something.

I am jealous. Leather seats, even heated. It it impressive, and yet sad. Another era gone, as time ticks away.

Obviously she is proud of her car, being able to afford it. Now I have another car that has a lot of memories, and we’ll have to decide whether to keep it just in case one of the kids needs a replacement car, or sell it, memories included.

I looked under the hood. It’s a little different than when I was able to work on cars back in the days when they were a lot simpler and computers did not run all of their functions.

I remember rebuilding my 1968 Buick Skylark’s carburetor. I bought the kit and did it in a couple of hours. That included the learning curve.

Cars don’t have those anymore. It’s fuel injection, controlled by computer chips and micro-circuitry. My Skylark didn’t have any of that.

I could take that car anywhere and not worry about it breaking down. There wasn’t all that much to break down. It did have a big 350, V8-cylinder engine under the hood, no anti-pollution anything, ran on leaded regular gas, and got a mere 9 MPG.

But back in those days, almost all cars were built to run on leaded fuel; anti-pollution gizmos were not invented, and fuel was so cheap that we didn’t care what the MPG of a car was.

A young man like myself could buy a car for a few hundred dollars and keep it running pretty easily, some knowledge of cars required, of course.

That’s when I started liking old cars. I wish I hadn’t sold some of them. They’d be worth a lot of money today.

It was a lot of fun to get a car just above junker category, fix it up and use it. I’m still like that, but my kids have different ideas. They like “new.”

One time when I was still in college, I found an older model car that had a push-button automatic transmission. Rather than shifting gears with a stick, you just pushed the buttons by the steering column.

I heard that they were notorious for breaking down, but I didn’t care. The older woman who owned it promised to call me when she got ready to sell, but she never called.

I also had a chance to buy a Volkswagen bus (it’s actually a small minivan), circa late 1970, maybe early 1980, in very good condition. I passed. That was another mistake. They guy was ready to sell. All I had to do was give him the cash.

I know that they are dangerous, but I didn’t plan to crash it. I just wanted it because when I was in summer camp as a kid, we were driven around in one of those. It brought back good memories.

From then on, I followed my intuition and collected a few cars, each with important memories attached.
Now that the last string has been cut, maybe it’s time to let go of this mini fleet. I have people knocking on my door asking me if I want to sell any of them.

No. Not yet.

“Give me a call if you decide,” the nice kid in front of me said. “I’d be interested.”

Maybe I will. Maybe that’s a kid who knows enough about cars to respect an older one and take good care of it. Maybe I’ll call the number scribbled on a piece of scratch paper he gave me, once I get all this sorted out.

Meanwhile, daughter is excited like a kid in a candy store.

Look at all these gadgets in here. How do you keep your eyes on the road? I asked.

Someone is texting her. The car started talking in a very pleasant voice, reading out the text. What a neat feature. I like that innovation.

What else does it do? It will take a while to learn all of this.

I popped the hood and checked the oil and the rest of the fluids. It’s habit.