pod20120516

This be my bad chariot

If you have someone in your life whom you really, really hate, a good thing to wish upon that person would be the need to shop for a used minivan.

In related news: Someone really, really hates me.

I searched high. I searched low. (Actually, I only searched low … because I can’t afford high.) And finally, after weeks and weeks of scouring the Internet for hours each day and visiting dealerships near and far and spending in the presence of used-car salesman oodles of time that I would rather have spent smashing all 10 of my own toes with a ball-peen hammer, we found it.

Never mind the fact that it was red … and please try to overlook the wet-dog smell permeating the interior … because, here’s the thing: It had only 62,000 miles on it! Yes, I know that sounds like an ass-load of miles, but we had long since discovered that the pittance we could afford to spend would probably net us a vehicle with at least 75,000 miles on it. Plus, also? This one had bells! And whistles! The sliding side doors and rear lift gate? They could be opened and closed using magic!

And so, with my finger poised on the trigger — a finger weary from the approximately seven gazillion hours it had spent typing used-car search parameters into my computer and iPhone — it seemed all but decided that the red (barf!) van would be ours … until I conducted one final, desperate search and found a just-published listing for the van shown above, which I photographed in my driveway last night.

It has nary a bell nor whistle … but what it does have is only 34,000 miles on it … a mileage total that, as pertains to vans that fit into our laughably meager budget, is more difficult to come by than a left-handed albino sasquatch riding a one-eyed unicorn.

And so fuck magic doors, kids; you’ll just have to suffer the injustice of using your own hands … you know, like your Mom and I did … way back in the 1900s.

And because we are clinging to the lowest financial rung of a community largely populated by the wealthy — people with whom we have become friends, and whose children have befriended ours — I will admit that I often find myself feeling bad or embarrassed or frustrated about our comparatively bargain-basement lifestyle … which is why one of my first reactions to buying this van was to think about just how much it doesn’t stack up to the $50,000-plus minivans and luxury SUVs that will constantly surround it.

But you know what? It’s the nicest car we’ve ever owned … and it’s a hell of a lot nicer than the 15-year-old shitbox with the blown head gasket that we just unloaded after milking 186,000 miles out of it … and I no longer feel perpetually worried that my wife might call at any moment to tell me she and the kids are broken down on the side of the road again.

And as I drove my family home from the dealership on a beautiful spring night with the windows down and the radio up and the kids all excited about their new ride, I felt something that I didn’t necessarily expect to feel about our used minivan: Really, really good.

So there.

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17 Comments

  1. Posted May 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    And it doesn’t look dented or scratched! And the paint job covers the whole car, no patches of primer! Glad to see you ended up with what looks to be a pretty awesome van.
    Heatherface´s most recent blog post: Baby birds at Hollywood Forever Cemetery!My Profile

  2. Posted May 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Congrats, Dude. I can’t even describe my elation for your new purchase. Seriously. We are driving around 5 people in one car with 192,000 miles on it. Every day that it still propels forward is a gift from God. Enjoy your new found release from old car anxiety. I think it is beautiful and as a bottom rung dweller myself, I cheer you on! There are things much more valuable than valuable crap. Like a loving family. Enjoy your chariot!
    Jill´s most recent blog post: Do Your Kids Fight in the Car?My Profile

  3. Paige
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Embrace the decent vehicle with low miles and enjoy it! I will never understand why everyone feels they must have the million dollar vehicle with all the bells and whistles and that they have to finance themselves into oblivion to get it. What a waste! I wish I had more faith in my vehicle that has 78,000 miles – it is already giving me trouble. 🙁

  4. Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice, much nicer than what we drive. Well done sir. I’m about to try to unload the wife’s 01 Altima with it’s torn CV boots, messed up electrical system, temp gauge that doesn’t work, slight oil and power steering leak, on something around the same year that doesn’t scare me as much. Kudos and enjoy, as much as you can, the quality that is your beater.
    Smokeynall´s most recent blog post: I DON’T LIKE CHANGE!!!My Profile

  5. Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    34000 miles?!?!?! That is AWESOME!!!!!!
    Truu Mom´s most recent blog post: Teachable MomentsMy Profile

  6. Posted May 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    You got a deal; you should feel good! Even if I had the money, I doubt if I’d spend it on a car because I know I wouldn’t take care of it and then I’d have all kinds of guilt for having a trashed out expensive car.
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: The Merry, Merry Month of May (…..or as I like to call it The Month of Mayhem)My Profile

  7. Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I am also a bottom rung dweller, and while not proud, I own it with confidence. Living within your means and sleeping through the night is a better feeling than driving around a bells and whistles dream and feeling like it is an anchor around your neck.

    I park my 7 year old honda civic with 150,000 miles in the garage while my neighbors park their corvette and BMW in the drive as they are the less valuable cars in their collection. That is crazy.
    Onethirdacrewoods´s most recent blog post: You Know You Are Having A Bad Hair Day When…My Profile

  8. Ali
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    34,000?? We bought a really nice 2004 sienna last summer (which we love) but it had 130,000 miles on it! We also used to own a civic with 253,000 miles. So, don’t feel bad. Congrats on the new van!

  9. Christy
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Well………………I hate minivans. This one is pretty though- congrats. We bit the bullet with a 2010 Ford Flex with only 50,000 on it and then promptly took a photo of the other car as it turned over 200,000 miles. Here’s to new cars! (clink)

  10. Chris
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I told my best friend to kill me if I ever bought a minivan, thankfully that hasn’t happened. Good luck with the new rig!

  11. Posted May 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Looks pretty cool to me. Maybe not as cool as a left-handed albino sasquatch riding a one-eyed unicorn, but, well, you know. You can’t have EVERYTHING.

  12. Sarah T
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I have a 96 toyota camry with 170,000 or so miles. It runs great(fingers crossed), but looks like shit. Congrats on the low milage van!!

  13. Carole
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Here’s what my dad always says about the bells & whistles: “Just one more fucking thing to repair when it fritzes on you.” He also manages to say it like the people who have the bells & whistles are the idiots. I love my dad.

    My husband & I joke about our (very) basic Neon is all the time: “(exhausted sigh) I don’t know if I have the strength to roll down the window. Unlocking the door took it all out of me.”

  14. Posted May 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to y’all, then! Ours has 107k, and I worry about having to get a new one in the coming years (though I hope it goes 186k miles…I had an ’87 Mercedes 190E I bought at 100k and drove until 190k when it was stolen!).
    the muskrat´s most recent blog post: seeing someone realize her dream, and how to keep a bookstore manager from ruining the experienceMy Profile

  15. Posted May 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to the Kia Sedona club!! We bought ours about two years ago when baby #3 made the lovely reliable and very old Subaru Legacy a non-option (wouldn’t fit three car seats). Gotta say I love mine…but watch for electrical stuff. Kia’s tend to be a little quirky in that regard. Fix it fast if you have something wonky happen. Congrats again!
    Robin´s most recent blog post: ConversationMy Profile

  16. Janet
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about you, but when people are paying their monthly car payments I feel pretty good driving my ’01 minivan. And I have the newest car in the family. Hubby and daughter both drive Buicks from the 90’s *gasp* Now, we won’t be winning any vehicular beauty/coolness contests, but who cares? Certainly not me. Your new ride looks great to me!

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