I will start this post off by saying that yes, this is shameless pandering on some level. But nothing I’m about to say about my car isn’t completely true (and anyone who has ever heard me wax on and on about my nearly eighteen-year-old car can confirm the validity of the sentiments hereafter).
My parents purchased our 1997 Subaru Impreza Brighton (2-door, green) at the end of the model year, just prior to the unfortunate exploding of our faithful 1987 Volvo 240DL station wagon. The car was my mother’s, then my father’s after the Volvo’s demise (Mom got a 1999 Honda CRV that she still drives). When I finally got my learner’s and then my license in 2003, the Subaru became mine.
Her name is Nigel. Yes, her. My roommate M. was there when she was finally named. I really wish I had noted how many miles she had on her when I got her. Definitely over 100,000. Probably closer to 110,000 because that’s when her last timing belt went on until recently. She currently stands at 214,000 well-earned miles.
There is a bond that comes from your first car, whether you like the car or not. My brother’s first car, my cousin’s Passat, met an early demise due to rapidly falling snow, and I’m pretty sure my brother is still mourning its loss. I wasn’t around for my partner’s first car, but the first car I knew him with, a purple (yes, purple) Honda, was one of my great loves (though, I’m pretty sure, he would have purposely wrecked that car to collect the insurance money if it had been worth it).
So many times different people have told me to junk this car. The vinyl is starting to tear, I’ve had to put about 1500 bucks into her this year alone (all general maintenance stuff i’d have to do on a 5-6 year old car, too, I would add), and I’m sure she’s not as safe as a brand-new car. But I love her, and like the love of Joni Mitchell, true love lasts a lifetime.
So now that she’s just hit 200,000, and I get ever closer to 30, I find myself getting nostalgic. In an attempt to channel that nostalgia in some meaningful way, my goal this summer is to drive my love across the country to San Jose, to spend the summer with my partner writing (finishing?) my dissertation:
Roughly 2800 miles. The first half I have places to stop (J. and Aunt T., you’ve been warned). After that it gets murky. If you live along this route, and I don’t know it (and you want to see me), please respond. Or if you want me to pick you up and you want to come along, I can promise Haribo and music. All in all, it’ll be about 6000 miles before I return to the East Coast just in time for my 30th birthday.
In an ideal world, some of the people who have taken the many East Coast road trips I’ve been on (Boston to Atlanta, Savannah to Orlando, North Carolina to Ohio to Boston) would be there for stints of the drive. And in a really ideal world, Nigel won’t blow up from the stress (notice I’m taking the southern route).
In the most amazing world ever, Subaru would make an epic commercial out of the experience. They’ve done it before, focusing on families and the lived, loved experience of owning a Subaru. Why not make one about a (nearly) vintage car still on the road?
My father, in what I can only hope is my 30th (and 40th…) birthday present (it’s on the internet now, Dad, so it must be true), has taken care of having most of her current wears and tears replaced or shined up. She’s even had her headlights realigned, so now she can see properly. Add to that a new axle, new hubcap covers, and a paint job to cover with new bumper stickers. Heck, with the amount he’s done, there’s probably a new primary buffer panel and port compression coil (with functioning catalyzer) in there somewhere (seriously, thanks again, Dad). In addition to all of the repairs Dad did, I have replaced the head gasket and the steering column wiring. I also splurged for cruise control and new window cranks. I’m waiting on the last couple stickers to put on the trunk (It’s a Subaru Nothing at the moment), and then I’ll post photos. According to my mechanics at the wonderful Shelor Motor Mile, what I’m doing is actually “restoring” this car, not “repairing” it. Who knew?
I’ll be writing a few more posts in the next couple days. One will most definitely be a request for music suggestions and/or playlists. Once the last touches are on the car, I’ll post a gallery of photos. And I will definitely be GoPro-ing and live-tweeting the trip as I go. Wish me luck!