It was with a bit of a sad heart that this week, after ten years and 150k miles of faithful service, I finally had to pick an upgrade to replace Ol’ Bessie. She’s been a reliable chariot indeed, with only one spectacular breakdown near the end; and even then she had the good sense to snap her serpentine belt right in front of the Plow and Hearth outlet.
Fear not friends, Bessie will now live out her years down at the lake, housed in a spacious and clean garage and saved for weekends tooling around, hauling boats and what-nots. I see many good years ahead of her.
Isn’t it fascinating how attached we become to our cars? Dr. Charles Kenny, a consumer psychologist, has studied car buyers and has noted that similar to the “you are what you eat” mantra, many of us also believe that we are what we drive. Do you think this is true? I would like to believe that if money were no object, a car that would truly reflect my personality would be an Aston Martin, circa 1964, made famous by James Bond. Vintage, makes an entrance, with a little kick under the hood – yep, I could live with that being my “car avatar” (av·a·tar – an incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea). It might be the only thing I would ever have in common with James Bond.
For me, cars serve as as my “automotive time stamps.” I’m amazed that I can instantly connect important periods in my life to the car I was driving at the time. For example:
- High School: my mom’s Chevy Malibu … because I couldn’t afford my own car! When I could talk Mom into letting me borrow her ride, I sure did have some fun back in South Florida in the late 70s.
- Attending College: a beat-up “POS” 1974 Plymouth Duster, AKA “the Beige Bomber.” That car, which I bought used, was a death-trap; with a wide bench seat across the front. The steering was shot and the carburetor stuck so badly that you had to use the brake as a clutch. But, it was my very first car and it carted me and my friends around Tallahassee and got us into more than our fair share of fabulous trouble. It’s probably a classic now, if it didn’t end up on the junk heap.
- Raising My Son: my 1993 Ford Explorer – “Dora.” Jimmy was just two years old when I bought this, my first ever new car. Twenty years later I can still picture how excited he was to be riding “up high!”
Regarding Jimmy, I also equate Ol’ Bessie to his high school years, when we depended on her to carry him to band practices and football games as well as a few “activities” that I’m sure it’s better we never know about.
I find myself now here in 2013, with this new automotive time stamp in my driveway. It sure is pretty and I’ve already named it “Junior.” It’s not that Aston Martin, but, the Subaru seems to also fit. Just thinking about all the adventures I’ll have driving Junior over this next decade puts a smile on my face. I wonder what Dr. Kenny would say about this recent purchase as a reflection of my personality… Hmmmm…
Do you think the car you drive is a reflection of who you are or how you view the world? Would you share a car avatar with James Bond, the Dukes of Hazard, or perhaps Mary Kay Cosmetics and her pink caddie?
Dayna Camp saysApril 15, 2013 at 9:57 am
Although there have been several cars in my lifetime, the one I think of in particular is the Gold Toyota Previa mini van. It was our first van when our children were little. It was also the first vehicle that any of our kids drove, so our oldest daughter had the “privilege” of driving it to high school (her younger siblings in tow) every day. But this car stands out in my mind because of the way it finally bit the dust. One day after school, our son called us from his friend’s driveway after dropping him off. He was laughing hysterically telling us that when they shut the side door it had just completely fallen off. He asked his dad what to do. The response was, “Just throw it in the van and come on home.” I think everyone cheered because they had desperately been wanting to get rid of the van.
Kim Dalferes saysApril 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm
Dayna, that is too funny – I can just envision your son giving that door the ol’ heave-ho into the back of the van and driving home doorless! I bet your husband is pretty thrifty. Good lesson for the kids.
Michele Lewis saysApril 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm
What a cute and fun article!
Hmmm, I don't really know what kind of car would be my avatar. I know we had a 8 passenger Durango. I hated it. If I have to drive a multi-seater it needs to be a mini-van.
I loved my Dodge Shadow. I miss it. I prefer smaller cars to bigger cars. If I ever had a truck I'd want one of the really small pickups. That being said, I am not a fan of the really small eco friendly cars. I prefer to blend in with the crowd!
Any ideas about what this says about me?
Kim D saysApril 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Oh Michelle, I will say that based on your fabulous blog I would think that your car avatar would be something that provides a safe and comfortable environment for everyone – I can see how that Durango matches where you currently are in the world.
Megan Broutian saysApril 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm
My nickname for my car is The Beast… what does that say about me, O Wise One? (wait, don't answer that)
Kim D saysApril 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm
LOL Megan – well at least it’s not called “The Bitch”; refer back to earlier FB post please.
MelAnn saysApril 13, 2013 at 10:41 am
When I am driving a corvette then maybe I can say yes to this question… Hehe! Or even maybe a Toyota Venza. When I was 30 I bought one of the first Toyota Solara's that were delivered to Lubbock dealership. I went in to test drive and take a closer look at one and ended up buying it! I remember thinking "holy hot place! I just bought a new car! My husband is going to kill me!" After my divorce, I soon had to get rid of it because it was either money for rent or live in my car. Now I look back and wish I'd gone with the latter! Hehe it is the best car I've ever had or driven. It's the only one I attach significant meaning or memories to… I've never named a car. I might keep that in mind for later.
What is really amusing for me is that my best friend has… Several cars. I think at one time he told me six. His nanny wrecked one. So he's down to five. His forrest green truck compares to his rugged nature. His bright yellow dodge charger with the broad black stripe across the top definitely reflects his supercharged, sexy, all go self! His yellow Prius is the practical contradiction to his collection and out of his level head self that knows he might have to sacrifice self for practical solutions for his 45 mile (one way) commute to work. His vw bug that doesn't run I'm sure is a sentimental piece from his pat he hopes to resurrect. Another truck that doesn't run I'm sure he saved to teach his sons to work on cars and the rewards of driving a restored junk vehicle as opposed to the bus or walking or humiliation of a parent driving you to school when you are 17. Maybe his humor?
Fun to think about!
Kim D saysApril 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm
Your best friend has SIX cars? There is someone who is clearly having an identity crisis! 😉
James Andrew Budnick saysApril 10, 2013 at 10:31 am
The Jeeps name is actually The Big Brake and your old Subaru is Cecilia. You don't even know the names of your own children!
Kim Dalferes saysApril 10, 2013 at 10:55 am
Well I featured pictures of the children that I am especially fond of … 🙂
Chery saysApril 8, 2013 at 9:08 pm
HI Kim, I was reading your comment over at Marquita's blog and your title The middle -aged cheap seats caught my attention, so here I am 🙂
This is an interesting post! I have never really named any of my vehicles, but this past summer I found a Buick Park Avenue and immediately this became my grandma mobile.
Yep I have 2 car seat in the back seat one for each of grandma's boy's.
I am happy you found a great retirement home for Bessie.. Chery 🙂
Kim D saysApril 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm
Chery – thanks for hopping over from Marty's place! Jealous of your precious backseat cargo. Very much looking forward to my grandma mobile one day!!
Diane Marie saysApril 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Loved your article on how we relate to our cars. For me, my car has always been a mode of reliable transportation. If it gets me from point A to point B safely and reliably I am good with it and grateful. Now, that doesn't mean I don't have my dream car which is a Mercedes Benz convertible! I love my current car, which I also named Bessie! She is the best car I have owned so far and is at 189K miles with many more in her my mechanic says. She is a 1997 Toyota Camry with leather interior that has seen better days but is still in very good condition for her age. I am always grateful for her loyalty to me. Loved your spin on things Kimba!
Kim D saysApril 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Bessie – we're car twins! Hope my Bessie makes it another 50k just like yours.
Vicki saysApril 5, 2013 at 11:15 pm
Can't say I've ever felt an attachment…but I do remember learning to drive old Beulah..my dad's Studebaker..many fun memories from highschool in that car.
Kim D saysApril 6, 2013 at 9:54 am
"Beulah" – what a great name for Studebaker! I also recall a yellow Vega…..is that right?
marquita herald saysApril 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm
Glad to hear that Bessie will live on in semi-retirement. Many years ago I felt that connection to a car – especially my very first one. But then I got a job that came with the company car, and the next job did as well, and then I started working from home and gave up a car all together. I keep thinking one of these days I should get a car, but where I live I don't need it and haven't really missed it. You've definitely triggered some nice memories though 🙂
Kim D saysApril 6, 2013 at 9:45 am
Marty, here in the 48 it's such a necessity in most places to own a car – unless you live in a big city with great public transportation. But, I could maybe also get used to hanging by the beach and walking or biking most places. Of course, I would probably name my bike….
Arla DeField - SayingNoWithoutFeelingGuilty.com saysApril 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm
I name all my vehicles! First so when my husband and I talk about them, we know which one we mean, but second, I have noticed that if I don't name the, they name themselves. (and it usually isn't pretty) My favorite is my Harley Davidson Dyna – "The Queen of Sheba" Sheba for short. because, nothing is too good for the Queen of Sheba!
Kim D saysApril 6, 2013 at 9:41 am
"Sheba" for a Harley – that is SO perfect. Didn't think anyone could manage to give a Harley a "girl" name, but, well done!
Louise Edington saysApril 5, 2013 at 10:41 am
Hmm am I attached to cars? Maybe I am. Not as attached as you I think. As long as they work I am happy lol. I did love my first cars. First a mini clubman and then a mini. I did also have a Beetle called Jasmine at one point but that was more to do with my now husband's dream and the fact he couldn't drive when I met him so he talked me into it lol. I drive an XTerra now and do like it but don't think I'd be sad if I moved on.
Kim D saysApril 6, 2013 at 9:39 am
Louise, love the name Jasmine for a Beetle. Let me know what you pick next…. hmmmm, maybe something related to your astrological sign; whatcha think?