|Me and my father-in-law|
First there was the Chevy panel truck that we bought from a plumber. It only had one seat, for the driver, but lots of room in the back for camping. It worked perfectly from Wisconsin to Colorado, then Wyoming and back again. It was sold to a friend, along with an accordion.
Then there was the old crummy green Chevy wagon that we lovingly drove into the back woods of Wisconsin as graduate students. But it exuded fumes into the interior and when our first child was born it didn't seem like a great idea to drive him around in it. So we got a used Plymouth Horizon 4-speed. Fun and economical but not quite big enough when the 2nd baby arrived.
For wood-hauling we also had an enormous old Ford pick-up; it felt like you were maneuvering an ancient fishing boat on stormy water, very hard to stay going straight.
Then there is the used '93 Ford Ranger pick-up, which we found in Auburn, Alabama, and still have.
And of course the 2001 Subaru, very useful, and so much more fun to drive than the minivan. There have been many great adventures in the Subie, but for quite awhile we've known that another car was imminent. The Subaru has 184K on it. Driving the 2 hours to Portland is not fun; when you turn the radio on there is so much road noise and rattling that you can't hear the music.
Here in the West, public transportation is not an option...sooo... what car to buy?
I hate car shopping. What do things cost? It's all negotiable, like being a Peace Corps volunteer buying stuff on the street in Afghanistan, which I also didn't like. Except that you are spending huge, serious amounts of borrowed money. Car places try to make it more pleasant by having friendly sales staff and offering free popcorn and ice water, which helps a little because I do love popcorn machines and wish that I owned one.
After the first go-round of negotiations, we walked out. The car was perfect, but there had been a glitch in the online price and it seemed like a bait-and-switch. We needed time to think, and hoped the dealer would do the same, and indeed that's what happened.
In the end we got the car, a Jetta Diesel that should deliver upwards of 40mpg on the highway. It is black and shiny. The dashboard makes sense, shifting is easy, the ride is quiet, and the car doesn't tell me where to go or what to do. (I don't like those cars that talk.) I think we will be friends. I dig the power plate, but that's the dealer's name; the real plates will come in a couple of weeks. Best of all: we just got a new car and now we don't have to think about it for 15 more years.