To Kill a Clunker

August 10th, 2009 § 0 comments


Anthropomorphism – the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.


Tomorrow at one PM, Karen and I will drive to our local Honda dealer to close the deal on a new car, a 2009 Honda Fit.  As part of the deal, we will deliver to the dealer one “Clunker” – in this case a literally accurate description, as it really truly clunks, particularly around curves – my 1998 Mercury Villager minivan – see above…   I’ve had this vehicle since our Mazda got creamed in late September 2007.  It had 209,000 miles on it when I got it, and now has about 216,000.  I don’t drive it much, which is why it has been sensible to keep it around, despite its various infirmities.

This vehicle has been a totally reliable partner.  Never once has it let me down.  I could go out, start it up, gas it up, and drive to Chicago right now if I felt so inclined.

It has a real nice sound system…

Tomorrow I will turn this 1998 Villager over to the Honda dealer and, as I understand the “Cash for Clunkers” program, the dealer will be required to drain the vehicle’s oil, replace it with a sodium silicate solution, turn the car on and rev it at 2,000 rpm until the engine seizes.  They will kill it.

Oh – that’s right – it’s not alive.  It is an object.  Inanimate…?

It feels weird.  In the past all my cars have either died natural deaths or been passed on to new owners.  My first car was a 1966 Chevrolet Impala.  Bought it for $175 – sold it – still running, after a fashion, to another teenager for 125.  Then there was the Studebaker Lark, which died on me.  Not a smart move, the Studebaker.

Then the 1967 Rambler American – 6 cylinder – 3 on a tree manual transmission…  My most notable car thus far.  I bought the Rambler in Alabama in 1976, drove it to Michigan, back to Alabama, then to California, where it was my only transportation for three and a half years.  I can remember driving my Rambler, full of everything I owned except my bass fiddle, which I had left behind in Ann Arbor because it was too big and I was playing Fender bass those days, into a huge traffic jam in LA, my first experience with the Los Angeles freeway system.

Then I drove it back across the country, visited my brother in Houston, up to my uncle’s place in Bowling Green Kentucky, my parents, then in Dayton, Ohio, and on to Ann Arbor, where eventually it lost its battle to entropy in probably 1984.   I still have a hubcap downstairs.

I loved that car.

Then a Volkswagen Beetle, which I sold to a Beetle repair person who could fix the exhaust.  By the way, I’d drive that one to gigs in Detroit with a woolen blanket over my legs in the winter, as there was some kind of hole behind the dash that let the winter in.

Then a family hand-me-down 1978 Caprice Classic, which lasted all the way to New Haven CT, where the catalytic converter clogged up.  Sold it for $100, I think, for scrap.
Then a Nova/Corolla – a Toyota with a GM Chevrolet sticker on it.  Totaled in a wreck in Alabama.

Let’s see…?  1997 Mazda Protege.  This one lasted until 2007, when its violent demise parked in front of our house here in Ann Arbor was the trigger event that caused the first mentioned Mercury Villager to come into my life.

(Wow – look at Lupulus’ prescient comment two years ago:

One approach would be to buy the biggest energy hog you can find, and take it out of circulation to the greatest extent possible. This is a form of sequestration, which is used in various animals to prevent toxins in the body from doing any harm. There was an EPA employee who gave talks around the country, and kept cars in various locations. He defended his having seven cars–a dubious situation for an environmentalist–by explaining that he was doing his part to keep them off the road. Maybe there should be a government program, and generous breaks on insurance, to subsidize those who acquire big used cars and put minimal mileage on them. A big car/truck would also inflict more damage if anyone dare run into it when it’s parked in front of your house.)

Oh yes – there was another Nova/Corolla in 2001 – I gave that one to the Huron High School shop class for dissection.  And then a Pontiac Transport van – I drove that one until the fly wheel for the starter seized up.  Off to the scrap yard.

I’ve never deliberately allowed a car to be killed before.

I don’t really know that Mercury van so well.  Somebody else put the first 209,000 miles on it.  It’s not that big a deal to me.  Not like my Rambler.

But I do wish that someone could just fire up that old van and drive it to Chicago one last time…


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