Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Guaranteed Obsolescence: Sell Him a Car

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Guaranteed Obsolescence: Sell Him a Car

Article excerpt

Two weeks ago, my column dealt with my ability to accidentally

choose sports that would later become popular. My car selection

is an example of an opposite skill. Any new model I buy will

likely turn extinct.

My first new car was a 1972 Volkswagen Squareback wagon. My

brother had the 1971 edition and I loved it. It was discontinued

within two years. That lovely blue wagon took me, two kayaks and

two friends on a multi-state trip to Idaho and back in 1976 with

my first set of steel-belted radial tires.

It was replaced in 1977 by a Datsun F-10 wagon, later voted one

of the ugliest cars by an auto magazine. There were only two

model years in its brief history. The little golden jewel

carried me well into the '80s before rust cut it down in 1985.

I then decided to saddle Lee Iacocca with my car selection

skills. A cheap, used, 1978 Dodge Omni, bought in 1985, filled

in so nicely that I then bought its near twin, a new, 1987

Plymouth Horizon. That was it for that model.

By October 1993, the blue Horizon was showing its age. Rust

abounded despite frequent wax jobs. The rear doors refused to

open and the headliner drooped. Several other eccentricities had

me worried. Meanwhile, the Omni and Horizon were replaced by the

Shadow and the Sundance.

After some shopping around, only a desperate foreign car dealer

and the Plymouth people made offers I could afford. On paper,

trade offers ranged from $400 to $2,000, about the value of my

two bikes.

My soon-to-be-new car was actually sitting on the showroom

floor. Its color was labeled driftwood. It was their last stick

shift Sundance and it was truly a model-year closeout mood at

the dealership.

The Neon made the Sundance obsolete about a year later.

My car goals have always remained the same. I want a simple,

reliable car that lets me do things like key-lock the door, roll

up and down my windows, buckle my seat belt, shift my own gears,

burn economical amounts of gasoline and shelter me in a storm. …

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