Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Ride

My car is making weird noises. Tom and I have not budgeted for a new car, so we hope this one will last until next fall, when it will be 11. Not that I wouldn’t like a new car. My ’99 minivan, purchased in fall of ’98, is spartan at best. No power windows, no remote locks, none of that push one button and the doors open and close stuff either. In fact, this minivan seems more like a “cargo van” than a family car because the only air vents are in the front seat.

Jake, who has been in the “way back” for the past 9 1/ 2 years, has never had the benefit of heating or cooling. The sound system is an AM/FM radio. I remember shortly after buying it thinking I would put in a “tape deck.” A few years later, I amended this to putting in a cd player. Instead, it just remained radio.

I do not think I’ll be getting another van, although I do find all the new bells and whistles they have intriguing. Dual movie screens, I-Pod docks, seats that fold into the floor, safety features such as air bags? Right on. Remote lift-gate opening would be handy too, but I’ve had this van so long my kids have grown to the point where they can do most of that opening and closing stuff themselves anyway.

Besides, I’ve been doing the van thing since I was 18 when I inherited my mom’s. Sure, it was fun to see how many sorority sisters could cram into a minivan (please, no puking!), but after 20 years, the bloom is off the rose. I’ve had exactly 2 cars in my life, and I would like to make sure I get to drive something other than a van before I die.

You may wonder how we ended up with such a plain-Jane car in the first place. I was pregnant with Jake and we knew we needed a new van. I was teaching school and Tom was in graduate school, so money was tight. We picked the cheapest model. We didn’t mind that it didn’t have power anything, because we reasoned, “All that electronic stuff just breaks and would cost us a ton to fix.” Yes, we made this statement in 1998, not 1958.

It has been a great car. I am so familiar with it, I can squeeze into the tiniest parking spaces, even in parking garages. I know exactly how much cargo space I have for thrifting and dumpster diving. Today I managed to squeeze in 8 dining chairs, a high chair and several bags of groceries after a spontaneous trip to the thrift store. Tom, if you are reading this, I’ll explain when you get home. They were such a great deal it would have been a crime not to buy them. Seriously.

Any suggestions for a great family car that’s NOT a minivan? I am thinking Saturn Outlook or GMC Acadia.


Gretchen said...

Holy Cow! 8 Dining chairs? And a Highchair? You are the minivan magician.

I'm kinda stuck because I have a baby, with baby carseat, that can't go in the front. So I'm kinda limited.

But you? Know your stuff lady.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I have already admitted to not being a car person - so no advice from me. But I do applaud your stance on driving something other than a van before you die. I think it's really important to have goals in life (like - while you're still alive).

But I have one question. HIGHCHAIR???

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Don't worry, Kate! The high chair was for my neighbor. :)

Shana said...

I have a '01 Mitsubishi Montero and love it, even though the gas/mileage is crap. Don't know what I will do when I finally have to get another vehicle because every time I get the "new car bug" all I do is look around and find nothing that I like to remind me that I have a good thing. I did see a commercial for the Ford Flex I think it is called, a crossover, that looked good. My sis just got a Ford Escape hybrid, loves it, but she only has one kid.

I love your comment about Jake in the "way back" with no heat or cooling. I also have front vents only, and we refer to the third row as the "way back." Always a little battle about who gets the way back whenever we're going to be in the car for more than 20 minutes.

Cynthia said...

First of all, how can you leave us hanging?!! Please, tell us - how much were the dining room chairs??!!

Secondly, to any who are reading, Anna See was the FIRST of anyone any of us knew who had a minivan! I mean college?! She was the envy.

Finally, I would definitely go for the Saturn. Great maintenance record, American, well-priced, and much hipper now than they used to be. I would like one as my next purchase if I can talk my husband into it.

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...


The table and all 8 chairs came to a grand total of $44.00!