Bye Bye to the Beast
The last time we bought a new car was back in the Bronze Age. Or maybe it was 2002. Anyway, it was a long time ago when we bought the pickup truck I drive every day. It was even farther back in the annals of history when we bought my wife’s 1999 Chevrolet 4×4 Suburban, the vehicle our family always affectionately called the “Big Blue Bus” or my favorite, “The Beast.”
The Beast was actually our second Suburban, having bought our first one nearly 10 years earlier, soon after our third child was born and not long after the earth cooled. Since this first ‘burban was a bright fire engine red, we quickly christened her the “Red Sled.” We realized we needed to supersize our family car because we needed something to fit not only our growing family, but also our two dogs, bicycles, toys and other paraphernalia – something big enough to shuttle everybody and everything to school activities and all over town. We also needed a rig large enough to transport our burgeoning brood and a cargo hold’s worth of luggage north to Mammoth Lakes and back for our often-as-possible getaways. The cavernous, gas-gulping Suburban was ideal. And so we drove the wheels off the first, then a second, of Chevy’s oversized people movers.
And then, all too suddenly, our family grew up and away. Now when my wife and I drive to the Sierras, we’re able to fit our “stuff,” including our latest duo of dogs, into my smaller truck, which gets ridiculously better mileage and is easier to drive than the Beast ever was. Not being glared at by angry Prius owners when I pick them out from between our Suburban’s tire treads is a plus, too.
Alas, with its advanced age that had seen more than 140,000 miles roll past under its oil-dripping chassis, our Blue Behemoth was getting increasingly expensive to keep on the road. (It cost a whopping $850 recently just to replace a dead fuel pump!)
And did I mention the gas factor? Our Suburban could hold nearly 40 gallons of fuel. Of course, when we bought it in September of 1999, unleaded was a measly $1.47 per gallon. Today, even the cheapest gas is prairie-doggin’ the $4-a-gallon mark. You do the math; it ain’t pretty.
In short, it was time to sell the poor thing and put it out of our misery.
Now, over the years I’ve bought and sold dozens of vehicles, beginning with an ancient Ford Econoline panel van that had been rode hard and put away wet by the phone company and barely got me to La Crescenta and back from Cal State San Diego. I bought that olive drab deathtrap out of a desperate need for transportation and because it was within my college-afflicted budget of $200. I sold it less than six months later for nearly the same amount, which proved to me that I wasn’t the only sucker in San Diego County.
During the ensuing decades, I have bought and sold countless other vehicles – from abused Accords to cop-baiting Z cars. No matter what make or model, domestic or foreign, sports car or four-wheel-drive, I’ve always sold every vehicle myself.
Mind you, it’s not that I enjoy the process of selling cars. In fact, I loathe it; with all those awkward moments involving test drives and price negotiations and trying to figure out if the person you just handed your keys to is an escaped serial killer or merely seriously creepy.
Heck, just trying to explain to classified ad callers how to get to La Crescenta (much less how to spell it!) is a part of the car-selling process that has always been a big pain in the Pontiac.
But when it came time to sell our Suburban, my selling streak came to a screeching halt. Why? We’ll look under that hood next week.
Until then, I’ll see you ‘round town.