Sunday, April 6, 2014

10 years, 100,000 miles

During my first year of grad school at Dartmouth, Hilary was doing a year of post-baccalaureat studies and MCAT preparation in Massachusetts. We saw each other most weekends, becoming very familiar with I-91 up and down the Connecticut river valley. For a time, Hilary had to come north to see me, because I had no wheels of my own (Greyhound, the alternative, was occasionally used, but inconvenient).

Around christmas break at the end of 2003, I was ready to buy a car to fix that problem. I even had one lined up - a Honda Civic HX (the one with the funky CVT) from one of the business school students. Unable to get my bank to grant me an auto loan (they claimed I had no income; I did have a meager grad student stipend), I scrounged and borrowed money from friends and family. Then, abruptly and for no particular reason I can recall, the guy called the deal off just after New Year's. Frustrated and dejected, I spent some time moping while Hilary - ever more practical - looked through the classifieds. Down in White River Jcn she found a good candidate: an off-lease 2001 VW Jetta with under 30,000 miles. The dealer - a used car broker called Jasmine Auto - was planning to tidy it up and sell to another, big lot used car dealer. I got there first and got the price they would have charged the dealer. Such a deal. I also got fixed up with financing through a bank in Portsmouth.

Best $8500 I've ever spent. This spring marks 10 years and just about 100,000 miles later. More, if you count the miles it spent being hauled to Minnesota (2005) and back (2009). It's getting a little creaky, but still runs well. It's had this funny quirk for years now where it doesn't recognize the opening and closing of the driver's door. On bumpy roads this can manifest itself as the car suddenly starting to beep - thinking the door is open with the keys in the ignition - which requires a quick actual opening and quick slamming shut. There are a smattering of spots on the roof, hood, and trunk where the paint is gone and rust is starting to show. Those got their start in 2005 when my parking spot was under some tall pine trees that dropped globs of sap. And let us not forget the passenger side-view mirror: practically ripped off when I backed a little too close to my roommate's 1990s Buick. It's been held on with electrical tape and bailing wire ever since.

So here's to that fine piece of German engineering. Given that Hilary's station wagon is unlikely to survive its next state inspection, let's hope the Jetta lasts for a few years yet!

Prelude to being buried in a blizzard in Duluth. Winter, 2007.

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