Sunday, January 12, 2014
In the winter of 2008 my most excellent auto mechanic, Jake, gave me the bad news: my beloved 12-year-old car should not be driven through any more Michigan winters. Too much corrosion was attacking the frame.
Many car parts can be fixed or outright replaced, but a frame with too much corrosion becomes dangerously weak and impossible to repair. Michigan is in what we Americans call “the rust belt”. The steel in automobiles competes with the salt spread onto the roads during the winter. Eventually, the salt wins because the rust spreads like crazy.
“If you really want to keep it forever as you’re always telling me, get something else to drive in the winter,” Jake said. Jake knows what he’s about. He rebuilt the engine for me at 217,000 miles. Replaced the clutch, too. He also modified the suspension and exhaust system for me over the years as we made the car more fun to drive than it had been straight from the factory.
So this car I’d bought when fresh out of grad school in 1996 was now too rusty to drive all year round. This was a moment of serious emotional import. This car and I had been through a lot together. It was even stolen in 1999 when I lived in Denver. Days after the theft, I bought another 1996 Saturn SC2 in nearby Colorado Springs because I couldn’t order a new one. (Saturn had ruined the model for me with Chapter 2 251 Timothy Keirnan UX Professional Goes Car Shopping some ugly revisions in 1997, and there were no other car brands on the market that remotely interested me. I wanted the same car back as I had lost!) But then the police found my original car partially stripped in a south Denver parking lot. So I had two 1996 SC2s in my driveway for a few months until my original car was restored and I sold the second one. ...
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