Sunday, April 01, 2007

Good-bye, Station Wagon

Recently I drove Clifford the Truck downtown. Tacomas are popular and I got some looks, but they didn't quell my concerns of vague steering, loose shifting, odd gearing, and the inability to whip around corners. I remembered why I bought it. Of course it has all these--it's a truck. Think about Eastern Oregon! And as I began to feel a little better about it, I pulled up to the parking garage window where I know the attendant.
"What's going on man?"
"Not much. I sold the wagon for this truck."
He looked at the truck and then to me and--paused. "But ... station wagons are cool."

Station Wagon, I sing your praises.

You cornered well. Even at the limits of handling, your roll was negligible. Other lesser cars would have killed me (and my passengers) many times over. Few things were as fun as jumping in to you and roaring up Mountain Lake or Ironto or McKenzie Pass and just wailing through curves without much worry. Excitable riders usually calmed down once they experienced your excellent handling.

You held a lot of shit. Drunks? Yes. Bikes? Yes. 1200 pounds of paving stone? Yes (barely). Countless moves, both local and cross-country? Yes. Ladders, luggage, dogs, couches, wheelbarrows? Yes yes yes. You were THE road trip car to carry my friends and I. And your speakers! And moonroof! We moved things in style.

And not only did we move stuff, we went places. You were well-constructed. Not once did you complain about your owner's serial neglect, though in my defense you never didn't gave me cause to worry ... not after getting jerked sideways through sagebrush, or averaging 1000 miles a week for 12 weeks, or gingerly easing down the Rooster Comb or up Pine Canyon on Steens ("how the hell did that car get here??!"), or getting steered in to a guardrail, or suffering a hack homemade stereo-wiring job, or blowing down countless dirt roads at inappropriate speeds, or you-name-it. Were you a higher-clearance car, I easily (and gladly) would have taken you to 280,000 and beyond.

Best of all, you were unsexy. Appreciation comes in boatloads for Zippy and Clifford. But you? You were an ungainly modification of a sensible mid-'90s sedan. Girls never said "I like your car". You were not a hatchback but a stretched, boxy, greenhoused station wagon. In my homeland you were the "anti-car", my proud counterpoint to the SUVs and bumblebee Hondas and tacky bullshit people glommed on to their cars. "What do you drive?" "A station wagon!" The bumper stickers were appropriate. Even at the end, the expectant couple I wanted to sell you to got a giggle from "THIS CAR CLIMBED MT WASHINGTON." It was awesome.

You were ahead of your time, occupying a niche with marginal competition from Camrys and Tauruses. Now Subaru and VW and Mazda and Mercedes and Dodge (Dodge!) have all moved in to your former territory. It gives me small comfort that I sold you here in the Northwest where station wagons are appreciated.

All this for a stupid car.


Blogger tortaluga said...

that was a moving tribute.

but you'll have better luck scoring with hot young geologists now that you're a truck man.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Chief Jimbo said...

*tear* I will miss the Deli...but I won't miss the 48 hour insomniac tour of I95 though. Good story well not reenacted.

I like how going 105 you came to the realization you needed to document the fact. It's a funny mental image of you speeding down the highway, one hand on the wheel and the other feeling around for the camera under the passenger seat somewhere.

I especially enjoyed the Mt. Washington tag. I always looked at is as "THIS (!) Car Climbed Mt. Washington?"

9:01 PM  
Blogger Waan said...

Silly Jimbo ... my other hand wasn't on the wheel. Just take a minute to let that image sink in. Thaaaat's right. BTW, the last thing I did was peel off the Deli sticker ... damn thing didn't want to come off. HMMMMMM

Tortulaga, I'd rather smokin' hotgirl geologists get off to me explaining clastic linear shoreline deposition than some silly truck. I thought my fantasies were clear by now: first is geology, second is Ally Sheedy, and the rest ... shouldn't ever leave my mind.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Mr. Nutty said...

Ahh, the wagon. So many memories. I remember when your dad called to tell you he had gotten it. You lied and told me it was a maroon 944. Which, while awesome, wouldn't have been nearly as useful for all those years. I also have a fond memory of Michelle and I borrowing it to drive up to the 'Noke so I could buy my TV. The wagon didn't complain one bit about my insistence on driving up the mountains on I-81 at 95 mph or so. And who could forget the infamous "Dust Cloud/Toaster" debate of 2000 when we were on our way to Buffalo Mountain. And its first forays into off-roading on the ill-maintained last road to Buffalo Mountain. Neither the 626 nor the wagon ever complained about that road. Of course, I know the wagon went on to conquer much more difficult terrain.

The wagon was the last in a very respectable line of cars which will be missed and looked back on with fond memories. It joins the storied ranks of the Vulva, the Preludes, the 626, the Bimmer, and of course, the grand-daddy of them all: the 'Yota. As all of these great friends roar off into the sunset (or, in some cases, get towed off into the sunset) all we can do is remember their greatness as we watch that toast cloud disappear, without a trace.

4:59 AM  

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