Happy Hump Day! As you enjoy the ongoing misadventures of Elsa and her Swedish Imports do remember that this is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, thing, or corporate entity (past or present, in whole or in part, is wholly unintentional.
Crazy B*tch–Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery
Chapter 10—Of Legal Age…
Ol’Bruiser was assembled in Sweden, and shipped to North America five years before I took my first breath. So, by the time I was of legal age to vote, gamble and drink alcohol, Ol’Bruiser was just shy of reaching the age that would classify her as “vintage”. The sad reality was that Ol’Bruiser would never really be “vintage” because she contained more fibre glass and tar than your average row boat. She did have the original interior, but the rest of her was….erhm…shall we say “after market”.
Ol’Bruiser had offered me countless reasons to want to drink alcohol, but I was in so deep with my crappy car addiction the thought of a cool stiff drink had yet to occur to me. I was too distracted by thoughts—nay—desperate hope for—a newer car. Ol’Bruiser continued to fall apart in wildly exotic new ways, and I firmly believed that all my problems would disappear if I had a newer car—perhaps one younger than me, and equipped with fuel injectors (instead of carburetors).
When no one was looking, I started checking out the classifieds, and all kinds of vehicle vendor magazines, for my next car. I thought my best bet would be a newer version of the car I was presently driving. That way I could get my dad on board, and he would continue to instruct me on how to fix and maintain my car. It was a move brilliant for its diplomacy and a little moronic for its practicality. Looking back it was not unlike getting Keith Richards to help one shop for syringes and vodka.
Eventually, my dad got on board with the whole car shopping thing. Before I knew it, I was being dragged through the dealership, and countless other used import vendors my dad frequented. Don’t forget, my dad had garnered something of a rock-star status thanks to his resurrecting the Ol’Bruiser.
My dad was hell bent on finding another project car. Sure, it would be newer than Ol’Bruiser, and hopefully, its body would be in better shape, but after my winter of stalling and “cold non-starts” I was eager to embrace any kind of change as an improvement. Thankfully, there were no one hundred dollar parts cars on the market. There were, however, many cars the same age and slightly newer than my dad’s car. They were no where near the same state as my dad’s car. These cars had been used, thoroughly. Many had substantial rust, but all were in far better mechanical and physical shape than the Ol’Bruiser was in when she was brought home.
Again, thanks to my dad’s influence, I was shopping for standard transmissions. They were cheaper, and in my opinion, offered more control during winter driving. My dad also felt that buying used automatics would be more liability (in possible repairs) than I could reasonably afford. He claimed that standard transmissions were more forgiving than automatics. He was right in theory. If, in theory, the car’s previous owner knew how to drive a standard transmission, then yes, the life span of the transmission in a standard transmission car can easily outlive cars with automatic transmissions. However, as I experienced first hand, driving a standard transmission is not some kind of instinct that humans are born with: for many it is a hard learned skill. I pointed out this chasm between theory and reality to my dad. He stopped talking while I spoke, but that was as close to listening as he got. He would have none of my observations and opinions on this matter. Standard transmissions were the superior choice—that’s it, that’s all.
It was not long I was wishing that all these guys at the dealerships were more like the guys at the tire shop. At least the guys at the tire shop understood the challenges I faced as my dad’s daughter. The guys at the dealership thought my dad was the coolest guy ever, and that I so super lucky to have him as my dad. Now, I loved my dad, and I knew just how lucky I was to have him in my life, and under my car. However, what the dealership guys couldn’t possibly process was the shear madness that was my dad when he was on a car mission.
Eventually, I got into the habit of bringing a book with me when we went car shopping. I had heard, lived, and suffered through all the Ol’Bruiser stories my dad regaled the dealerships with. In fact, I was there when they first happened, and know exactly where and when they started making the shift from true story to urban legend. My dad felt unsafe including me in these conversations lest I correct or clarify too much. My firm grasp on reality was going a long way towards stealing his thunder.
We didn’t just do the dealership circuit, we also explored some networks my dad had with his car club buddies. There might be some better leads considering how fastidiously enthusiasts care for all that they are enthusiastic about. My dad was no less the super hero amongst his car buddies. In fact, many were genuinely puzzled by my desire to replace Ol’Bruiser. I thought maybe I could possibly segue their adoration for Ol’Bruiser into a potential sale of her.
Perhaps delusion is genetic or contagious, but I was so hopeful that not only would I find a mint condition replacement car, but that one of these guys would be willing to take Ol’Bruiser off of our hands. It turns out the only thing we found was rousing car talk, and the passionate sharing of “car war stories”. None of these guys were willing to part with their cars, nor were they willing to take on Ol’Bruiser.