Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Volvo 240 and Other Dubious Ideas

My husband is a car guy.  My husband is quirky.  My husband likes things that are outside of the norm.

All of these things together make him both a lot of fun to live with, and our home a place where quirky/broken/rusted/who-would-want-to-own-that? things go to live out their retirement when others might let them die.

For example--when J bought our 1921 bungalow in Columbus, the hose faucet on the side of the house was original, rusted, not working, and a mess.  Most individuals would focus on the last three facts and head to Lowe's and buy themselves a new faucet for under $10 and be on their merry way.  J removed the faucet, blasted off the rust, cleaned the entire mechanism, repainted it, and rehung it.  Time investment: 1 weekend.  He couldn't have been more pleased.  "It's original!" he'd say.

J's newest quirktastic enthusiasm is a Volvo 240.  This enthusiasm has been brewing for several years now.  Back in 2006 (or possibly 2007), J's best friend Matt purchased a 240 in Portsmouth, NH from Ebay motors, then the two of them went on a ridiculous 24 hour odyssey which included a 5:00 am flight to New England and a 13-hour drive which J was able to sleep through much of because he did donuts in parking lots and tested the limits of the Volvo's tachometer whenever he got behind the wheel and Matt kept taking the keys away from him.  In any case, the Volvo-lust (which includes a need for purchasing the car sight unseen, the need for an epic journey, the appreciation for the fact that this car is a like a Swedish family pickup truck, and the overwhelming assumption that cars that family-friendly are invisible to traffic cops) had taken hold and J was smitten.

Last week, Ebay motors produced J's holy grail--a 1993 manual Volvo 240 in mint condition with only 150k miles and no reserve.  J stayed up late to steal the car away from the other serious bidder.  After winning the car, he was giddy with car joy.  He immediately called Matt, and invited him to help pick up the car.  They leave October 2 to get the 240 from Falls Church, VA.  J has already purchased a tachometer and a prancing moose Volvo bumper sticker online.  He's thrilled to have the classic family car for our new little family.


My friends and family, they are scratching their heads.  J bought a car online?  It's in Virginia?  It's HOW MANY YEARS OLD?  To which I reply, there's a reason why Volvos have a reputation for safety and reliability.  They're like Singer sewing machines--they can keep going indefinitely if there is proper maintenance.  (That said, I would like--at SOME point in my life--to own a car built in this millennium.  Knowing J, that will be in about 12-15 years, when a car built in 2002 or so will have become quirky and unusual, difficult to find parts for, and the subject of geek-lust).  I have also known this day would come.  J has been keeping an eye out for a Volvo since Matt found his.  The only reason he didn't buy our neighbors' 240 when they were ready to pass it on was because it was an automatic.  It wasn't an accident that J found our new car on Ebay motors last week.  He's probably been checking the website weekly (or is it daily?) for years.

My hope is that this will be like the purchase of his motorcycle.  We both loved the fact that--although he had bought something that was over 30 years old (a 1976 Honda 400)--it was in perfect working condition and needed no mechanical help.  (This is unlike many of J's purchases.  He likes to buy things that he can put his own personal stamp on, in that he wants to be the one who makes them work.  This habit can become slightly time consuming, and is baffling to those individuals who feel that things are generally supposed to be functional when you buy them).  From everything I've read about our new car, it will be working and perfect for us.  And if all else fails, both J and Matt are mechanical engineers with years of car experience behind them.

I'm just hoping J will bend on my desire to put a personalized bumper sticker on the back.  I want to make a sticker that has Jon Stewart's anthem call of "Be Reasonable" on it.  I can think of no better setting for such a message than the ass of a 17-year-old geeky family car.

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