Monday, April 8, 2013

Every Lemon Has A Lesson...

If all goes according to plan my son will get his driver's license in the year 2029.  That’s only 4 presidential elections away, and who knows, cars may be running on high fructose corn syrup by then. I can see it now, The Pepsi Prious, 48 miles to the pop! 

My first car was a 1984 Renault Alliance.  A small, four-dour sedan that was midnight blue and free of blemishes. I could hardly contain myself as my dad plunked down 5 crisp $100 bills and we drove off, struggling to find head room in the tiny compact. As part of the deal I agreed to get a job and pay the monthly insurance premium.

In hindsight, car insurance was the last thing we needed. Only vehicles being driven on the road require insurance, and mine was a lemon.  I found this out while trying to start it in the get to my pay for insurance...for the car that wouldn't start....and so on.  I spent more than a few Saturday mornings cranking and pleading with the ill-fated French product to start.

When the car did sputter to life, it struggled to climb hills, the horn was located on the signal lever, the gauges only worked on Tuesdays and Thursdays, French motor oil is expensive. Most of that's true anyway..

But there was much to learn from the problematic car.  My dad and I changed the oil and even replaced the radiator, or should I say, radiateur. I washed and waxed it as it sat in the driveway, (not like it was going anywhere). I saved up and even had a tape player installed. 

I look back on my little French car with pride. Sure, it had all of the luxuries of a golf cart and the zip of a riding lawn mower, but I was 16, and grateful just to have a car. And if Dad had bought me a newer car, one that—get this, started every time I turned the key, I would have been happier would have never learned so many valuable lessons that come with driving a beater.  Humility being the most important.

So for my son's sake, I hope he doesn’t get his hopes up, because his dad’s not shelling out for one of those high fructose roadsters anytime soon….or later for that matter. 


  1. My dad bought me and my brother an old Chrysler K Car that had been driven from Texas to Alaska over the, at that time, unpaved Alcan (Alaska - Canadian) Highway. It was a rough car. It finally died when I took it a little off road and cracked the radiator.

    Shortly there after, I bought my first brand spanking new pick up truck and learned to care for it much better than the old beater. And it sucks having a vehicle payment. ;)

    1. Those K cars are tough, I've had three, but I've also owned too many cars to count!

  2. I inherited my older brother's 1980's Mustang. The thing was a piece. Stalled, oxidized, cracking, etc.
    I may have to follow up with a summary of my own. You've inspired!
    Our kids will be floating around on you high fructose corn syrup hoverboards in no time. We'll be so outdated, it ain't funny.

    The Cheeky Daddy