Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My new Nissan and old car memories

A few weeks ago, I traded in my Buick for a 2006 Nissan Quest. I love it. It has so much room, even in the second row of seats. Plus, it handles like a car.

However, it is a minivan - hardly the sexiest or most youthful of vehicles. So far, though, everyone has been very impressed - even remarking on its looks. It is a very sporty, sleek minivan.

The other day, though, I couldn't help but reminisce about the other van that I've driven. It was a 1980-ish Dodge Van. Brown. With bronze pinstripes, and reflective sheeting on the back two windows - the sheeting had the image of an eagle in flight.

Dad bought the van and had it converted. He had a backseat put in that can fold out into a double bed. It had a brown velour-like cover, but that bed had a metal bar down the middle that made it very uncomfortable. The inside was carpeted with brown SHAG carpet. Even the walls and ceiling had shag. And up front, there was a float console which housed the speakers and an 8-track tape deck. The console floated above the dashboard area, suspended on hooks.

For family vacations, the van was great. However, there came a time when I had to drive it to high school. Oh, the mortification!! I wasn't a stoner or promiscuous - obvious reasons to actually want a van in high school. And my high school was very rich, so the majority of vehicles were sporty or snooty (snooty in a way only a BMW, Mercedes, or Volvo can be).

We probably drove that van 200K plus miles, quite a lot for a car made in the early 80s. Unfortunately, towards the end of the van's life, it started exhibiting strange behavior. One problem was the universal joint. Now, I have no idea what a U-Joint is for specifically. I do, though, know the symptoms of one about to go out. Whenever you're driving and hit a bump or pot-hole of signifcance, the entire van begins shimmying. Violently. The only cure is to pull over and come to a complete stop. Imagine how it felt being a 17-yr old and having a car that would start shaking uncontrollably. Cringe. Duck. Sigh.

Not only would it shimmy, but for some reason, every once in awhile, the floating console would come unhooked. We'd be driving and suddenly the thing would crash down, and we'd have to hold it up while trying to find a place to pull over. At this point, I would like the ask the obvious question: Why would you want a floating console? Did I mention that it, too, was covered in brown shag carpet?

So, the last few months of driving that van were quite exciting. A sudden pothole, and the van starts shaking with the palsy. Sometimes, the violence of the shaking would cause the floating console to crash down. I was battling motion sickness and the fear of concussion.

So this minivan is quite a different experience. Not only is there not a shred of shag carpeting, but it is painted a beautiful mother-of-pearl.

Old car memories are fun. It's amazing how much importance we place of the looks of a car. Someday, I'll have to share with you the time I owned a Triumph TR-7, a British sports car.

Hmm. That car was brown, too. I wonder if there's a theme?


TeCHViEw said...

Cool blog.
Made me reminisce about my previous car. Which i trade in for a nissan altima. And recently, i bought a new nissan headlight bulb. So far, it is the only part that needed replacement. Unlike my old car, it almost drained my wallet for the parts replacement alone.

Kelli McBride said...

My sister had an Altima for 200K miles. She loved it! I think, though, she's going to buy a Maxima this time.

My other sister bought the old Altima from her, and it still runs great, and the body is in great shape as well (my brother-in-law takes extremely picky care of his vehicles).

Penny said...

That's the best time to change your ride. The Dodge Van's long years of service and the 200,000 miles that it has covered makes it vulnerable to further repairs. Well, old cars will really make you miss the memories you shared with them. But as we all say, every beginning has an end.

>Penny Geist

Nicole said...

Nissan Quest has a stunning design. Wow! I also love the silver color. It's a perfect car for my family. I might buy one someday. =)

Nicole Vickers

Cassandra Marcole said...

My sister got a car similar to yours! She bought it months ago, and she still finds it enjoyable to drive. :D It's very useful for her growing family.

Cassandra Marcole

Stelle said...

Good thing you're satisfied with your new car. Anyway, I do agree that you're minivan is sexy. LOL. Even though it's a minivan, it sure is stylish. The old ones are good, but the newest are still the best. Enjoy your new car! :)

Stelle Courney

Patrick said...

Those old guzzlers are the icons of a decade. Show a vintage model and people can't help but evoke memories of those years, if not experiences with the car itself. So no matter how old or busted up they are, there are some people who can't help but have them up and running.

- Patrick Gauer

Timmy Radloff said...

Wow, smart choice going for the Nissan Quest! The best thing about the latest model is that it has Continuously Variable Transmission, which means it can change pretty seamlessly through a range of gears; unlike the conventional design that offers a fixed number of gears (usually five or six). And a lot of people actually share the same sentiment with it: it does handle pretty well, just like a car!

Timmy Radloff