The Circle of (Automotive) Life

"Nyota," Ford Escape, 2001-10 Sep 2013. R.I.P.

“Nyota,” Ford Escape, 2001-10 Sep 2013. R.I.P.

"Ginger," Nissan Cube, 16 Sep 2013-?

“Ginger,” Nissan Cube, 16 Sep 2013-?

Even for those of us in the Los Angeles area who use public transportation by preference, the death of a vehicle is a traumatic event. There are many, many places that the buses and trains just don’t go. Even if you can get there, bus schedules are infrequent in much of the city at best. And to me, a vehicle is a personal friend.

Yes, I name my cars.

“Nyota” was the only vehicle I have ever bought used. I was out of work, and separated from Hubby Al at the time; she was a godsend when my forgettable Hyundai Accent was totalled. She was an elderly 2001 Ford Escape, sturdy, capacious, manually transmitted, and available for the money I got from the insurance company for the Hyundai. I took good care of her; had her serviced at a Ford dealer at the recommended intervals.

On Tuesday 10 September, she died.

Like a horse in an old Western expiring in the desert, she gave a little rumble and just stopped, in the middle of a busy intersection. I couldn’t get her started again. At the dealer, she was pronounced dead on arrival, the autopsy showing no compression on any of her cylinders. The cost of a replacement engine being at least three times her worth, I reluctantly made arrangements to sell her to a junker.

Choosing a replacement for a friend is tough. On that Thursday, Hubby Al dropped me at the Valencia Auto Mall to go shopping. I was a hard sell. My finances are in better shape than they were, but not at high water. I am a die-hard stick shift aficionado. Also, I despise sedans. My Hyundai was the only sedan-like car I’ve had since 1992; I used to lose it regularly in seas of little silver cars, all alike. Several dealers were unable to show me anything non-sedan-like that transmitted manually; others attempted to convert me to CVT (continuously variable transmission.) The personnel at one dealership ignored my existence completely.

I found “Ginger” at Valencia Nissan, as a nice young man, Zach Moore, listened to my requirements and my financial situation and produced two cars to my specs to test drive. I chose the Cube over the Versa Note because, well, the Cube is… different. She will never get lost in a parking lot among little silver cars, all alike. She is amazingly spacious inside. Her handling is similar to that of “Nyota.”

And she has the best darn sound system of any vehicle I’ve ever owned.

The car is dead. Long live the car.

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