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A Vehicular Retrospective

I hate cars. While they are clearly a necessity, they are just as clearly evil. I guess that makes them necessary evils. I can’t think of too many other significant investments in life that we purchase knowing full well that each time we use it, it will decrease in value. Every day the car becomes less and less valuable whether it drives around or sits in a parking lot. There is no joy in buying a new one, and usually no joy in selling an old one. When buying a car, a scratch is just a little nick that is hardly worth mentioning. When selling a car, that scratch is worth hundreds of dollars. Thousands even. The whole task of buying or selling a car is a game, and an awfully frustrating one at that. I hate the game.

Still, we do need a car and really can’t get by without one. We deemed it time to get a new one and it is sitting outside right now. I started thinking about the cars I have owned and noticed that we could trace the eight-year history of my family through these vehicles.

The first vehicle I bought was a Chevy S-10 pickup truck.

Through my college years I ran a painting business in the summers to help cover my tuition costs. I purchased the S-10 as my company vehicle. It was a great little truck and I still miss the flexibility of a pickup. I have some great memories of driving that truck with Aileen in the passenger seat and our puppy perched between us. The windshield leaked, there was no air conditioning, the interior was spattered with paint and the stereo needed a severe beating most days to convince it to work. Worst of all, the vents would never close properly which made winter driving perilously cold for the feet! But we loved it. We were young, newly married and almost carefree. We had no money and could afford nothing more elegant, for I was in school studying computers and Aileen was working only part time. Unfortunately that little truck came to an untimely end on an icy highway overpass near our first home in Brantford, Ontario. Even then Aileen was pregnant with our first child and we knew that the truck would soon need to be replaced, for there was no room for a third person, no matter how tiny he was.

State Farm was kind to us at the demise of the S-10. Still, it was not worth much and we had, quite literally, no money. It seemed that our best option, and quite possibly our only option, was to get into the leasing game. Relying on a long-time family friend who was and still is a high and mighty in a leasing company, we used the proceeds from insurance to put the down payment on a lease of a slightly-used Toyota Corolla. For some reason we got a purple one that, but for the color, looked a great deal like this:

That little purple Toyota was a barebones model with little in the way of features. I can’t imagine that Corollas come any more scaled-down than this one! It rattled and banged and bounced a lot, but did well for us. We placed my son’s car seat in the back and Aileen would often ride beside him, cuddling and comforting him while we made long drives to the cottage or to visit my family in Atlanta. We had that car for three years before the lease expired.

Based on our positive experience with the previous car, we went with another Corolla. I was now working a good and steady job and we felt that we could afford a little bit more this time around. The new car was several model years later and was at least a package or two more advanced. It had two car seats in the back as my daughter was born soon after we acquired it. Aileen would sometimes squeeze between them to read to the children or to play with them. But the car began to get a little too small. We had a boarder living with us for several years and it was a tight squeeze to get all of us into the car on the way to church. We knew that it was time to move to something bigger.

The next logical step was to get a minivan. We went with a Ford Windstar because of its affordability. I had been laid off twice and had begun my own business which was still fairly new. It was crucial that we keep our costs down. We once again went with a basic model with few exciting features (I wouldn’t have believed a model existed that had power mirrors but only a tape deck instead of a CD player). Because we work from home, we kept the mileage low and never ran into any expensive repairs. In fact, I don’t think we have ever done anything beyond basic maintenance on any of our cars so far.

Another lease has expired and now we’ve got a new car to go along with our new baby. This time we went with a Dodge Grand Caravan. As usual, we have leased a car that has already been on the road for a year as this tend to keep the costs reasonable. This van is hardly a luxury vehicle, but is at least slightly more advanced than the Windstar and I sure will appreciate cruise control for those sixteen hour drives to Georgia! We went with this one because it is big and we are constantly running out of room when we embark on family vacations. I think the next logical stop is a full out cargo van. And I don’t ever expect to get one of those! This at least gives us two more seats to fill.

And so, as I looked at the already rather long list of vehicles we have owned, I can see how God has provided for us. I can trace the growth of my family and the growth of financial stability as God has blessed my business. It is a fun and not entirely pointless retrospective.

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