June 21, 2002
This is the story of a car that won't die.
When we were married twelve years ago my
wife and I got a car. In fact it was a wedding present from my
mother in law. The idea was that marital bliss had a far better
chance with something in the driveway to get you from A to B. I
suppose it also could have served as a getaway car for my wife if
things didn't work out.
Lucky for me, it turned out she didn't need
It's what you'd call a cute car if you were
being generous. In fact, it's a 1989 Ford Festiva and would fit
neatly in the trunk of most of today's SUVs, with room to spare for
the spare. It's the kind of car you'd expect a dozen clowns to step
out of at any moment.
For years we charged around town in it,
parking in impossible places and hauling everything in the hatch
from Christmas trees to the front room sofa. It seems like you only
have to fill it up once a season, and it goes like stink on the
highway. I've never had a speeding ticket in it, mostly I think
because no cop can believe anything so tiny could go so fast. It's
like driving a go-cart.
Aside from the muffler, which falls off
every few years like clockwork, the rest of the car was built
incredibly well. Too well, it seems. Ford stopped making them
because I think they realized they could only ever sell you one.
They would much rather sell you something big and pricey that
constantly requires the replacing of many obscure but expensive
parts. They spend years developing ways to make sure that only those
things that are not under warranty rust, fall off or break. That way
you'll end up in their showroom every couple of years to buy a
But the Festiva just refuses to die. We've
never owned a garage, so it's been exposed to the elements these
past twelve years. It's been home to cats, squirrels, spiders and at
least one bird's nest. It even has a little patch of mold on it.
Even so, all you have to do is turn the key and off you go.
A few years back we got a second bigger car
to make the daily commute to work. Going out to get groceries in the
Festiva was one thing, but playing tag on the highway every day with
bigger cars was another. I decided I needed a lot more metal around
me so I didn't end up at the side of the road some day like a
squashed TV dinner tray.
I was feeling sorry for the Festiva the
other day and looked up its records. It had been more than two years
since its last tune up. As good a car as it is, it was starting to
sound like a washing machine full of nickels if you drove it at
anything under 100 kilometers an hour.
So it got fixed up at the local garage. I
told them to give it the works, knowing full well it meant they
would be giving me the works when it came time for the bill. It now
sounds like it could go another twelve years.
The nice thing is, I can double its value
anytime I want.
All I have to do is fill the tank with gas.