If you had told me a month ago that I would dump my beloved WRX in a hot minute, I would have told you that you were crazy. With a mere 125,000 miles, my Subaru was good for another three to four years at least.
Except on my way to work three weeks ago the clutch started shuddering and then squealing and then spouting smoke as I pulled into the service station near my office. “Your clutch is almost certainly gone,” was Sam’s proclamation. I eyed the plaque on his wall which declared “Another Day in Paradise,” a phrase I heard him utter every time I walked past.
Two hours later he called. “Your transmission is also shot. I’m very sorry.” He wouldn’t recommend installing a new one plus the clutch. While I absorbed this he called back, having located a used transmission with only 40,000 miles. Relieved, I picked it up a few thousand dollars and two days later.
It was the shrill whistling on my way home that sounded the first alert. Increasing in volume and pitch as I drove, my heart sank in reverse proportion. After driving it for a week to make sure it wasn’t something that would just go away, I determined that at sixty five miles an hour, the whine was too high to make out. So if I just flew around town I was all set. Sam could exchange it for another used one, but it was a less than subtle nudge to replace my drive.
I decided to buy new since the 25,000 miles the previous WRX owner drove had clearly been the downfall of my otherwise happy vehicle. Thus began the befuddling and vital sifting of the matrix of variables involved in buying a new car, the second largest purchase most people will make in a lifetime. I listed my priorities: new, manual transmission, all wheel drive, responsive (read zippy) engine, good looks and reasonable price. I could get everything I wanted if willing to spend forty grand or more.
At the Nissan dealer I waited for my salesperson to get back to me with numbers on trade in value for my car and incentives on a new one. A woman roughly my age and I trolled for snacks at 6:30 pm on Labor Day Monday. “What are you driving now?” she asked. I pointed to my sporty blue car. “You want a manual transmission?” she looked as if I had just handed her a spider in a jar. “What color are you looking at now?” I had been thinking Cayenne Red, and she blurted out, “I would be bored with that in three months!” And what color was she considering? “Black. In and out.” “I would be bored with that in three months!”I exclaimed and we both laughed. She was deciding between a Mercedes which she said would stretch her budget every month or a Pathfinder which would be easy to do. We all need to listen to our own masters. There’s no imperative. Just the balancing of what’s most important with what’s possible.
I wasn’t willing to strap myself for any car. We ended up side by side negotiating with our sales people. I hope she gets the deal of her dreams, including the 0% financing. I would need to sleep on the generous trade in, plus $500 incentive for my base model Juke with its paddle shifters and installed moonroof.
Monday evening I’ll kiss my WRX goodbye and drive away smiling in my Bordeaux Black (shines eggplant color in the sun) Juke. Another Day in Paradise.