For most of my life I was indifferent to cars. To me a car was a way of getting from one place to another in relative comfort. Cars are expensive to maintain; they require repairs; they cost a lot to keep on the road.
I was usually happy to drive whatever car I could afford which usually meant one that was pre-owned (euphemism for “used”). In my twenties that meant Volkswagons; my family years, 30 to 60 were spent driving two (in succession) minivans.
There was one car, however, that made a lasting impression on me. It was a silver PT Cruiser that I rented for a few days during a vacation in the Southwest with a girlfriend from my college days. We wanted to drive to the Grand Canyon from Oak Creek Canyon, just outside of Sedona, and needed a car to do so.
When I first saw the PT Cruiser I was delighted by its retro look. When I got into it I felt right at home; it was so comfortable. For someone who’s had a lifetime of lower back problems that’s saying a lot. The visibility is wonderful and there’s lots of leg and head room. Plus, I loved having the gear shift on the floor because it reminded me of driving a VW.
Off we drove to the Grand Canyon listening to the Grand Canyon Suite by the renowned Native American flute player, Carlos Nakai. The Cruiser was easy to drive and fun to be in; I loved it. Maybe it had something to do with the freedom I was feeling of being off on my own for a while with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in a long while, exploring new places.
Fast forward to present day. My mini-van was beginning to show signs of wear and tear: a few dents and scratches, a slightly musty smell from an occasional leak in the dashboard when it rains heavily, and, recently, a complete failure of the windshield wiper motor as we were driving along a very busy highway. I was beginning to worry about its age and my safety.
My daughter reminded me that I had loved that PT Cruiser and would comment on one whenever we’d pass a Cruiser on the road. My husband had made several attempts to talk me into buying yet another minivan, but I wasn’t warming up to the idea. I wanted something more compact and gas-efficient, so my daughter began nagging my husband to find me a PT Cruiser. And finally, he did.
For three thousand dollars he found a 2008 PT Cruiser with 68,000 miles on it, in very good condition. At that price even if I only got five good years out of it, it was worth the price. We went to try it out and I drove it without any problems. We bought it and put about $1000 into it for minor repairs, a new set of tires, and all the fees involved in buying a used car and getting a new title and insurance. It was good to go.
Believe it or not, for about a month or two I vacillated between my old minivan and my new Cruiser. I had loved the minivan and was very attached to its roominess and total comfort. (It’s a sports van model, with cushy seats and a very smooth ride.) It took a bit of time for me to get used to the close-to-road feeling of the Cruiser, but after a while I began to like it.
My kids got me a nice set of sheepskin car seat covers for Christmas, since the seats are vinyl and very cold to sit on in winter (and probably scalding hot in summer). I am charmed by the small retro clock on the dashboard that I can set by simply turning the dial below it, just like an old wristwatch. Then my daughter bought me a bobble-head snowman to put on my dashboard.
The final touch was a Christmas wreath with a big red ribbon that we attached to the grill for the holiday season. It was fun to ride around in my well-appointed Cruiser with all the trimmings.
Now I am in love with my new (old) PT Cruiser. My daughter bought me a cheap red tinsel double-heart decoration to attach to my front grill for Valentine’s Day. It has been bringing smiles to many who spot the hearts.
As an older, wiser woman I have been falling in love with my Cruiser slowly, not allowing myself to be swept off my feet, but ready for a loving relationship that I know will grow stronger with time.