Okay, it didn't cost a lot.... at first.
My first vehicle was a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit convertible. Born the same year as me, it was kismet and love at first sight. How cool is it to have a convertible for your very first car, even if it was seventeen years old. I will tell you it was not as cool as I first thought it was. Only because within a month of having the car some thief in the night cut a hole in the roof to get a really crappy radio. I mean it didn't even have a CD player. Really, thief?
At the time, I did not have the money to immediately fix the convertible top. What's a girl to do? Duct tape. This is the first rule of a hooptie. Must have duct tape. There are many rules of hooptiedom too, such as, if you live in a warm climate your AC can't work. In cooler climates your heater can't work. I, unfortunately, lived in a warmer climate. No AC for me. The duct tape repair only somewhat fixed the problem. Duct tape has surprisingly little power in rainy steamy Florida. While it kept torrential downpours from getting me completely soaked, it still had a tendency to leak. This leads us into our next problem.
Water and electronics don't mix. The stream of leaking rain water, as luck would have it, poured directly to the fusebox. This actually caused a whole array of problems. Sometimes my blinkers would work and sometimes I had to put my arm out the window to signal which way I was going. Most people still would honk at me and tell me where to stick it and to, of course, use my directionals. Windshield wipers would occasionally swipe the rain away, if they felt like it. The gas gauge stopped working all together so it was a fun guessing game whether or not I would have enough gas to get from one point to another. Oh yeah, I haven't mentioned that odometer didn't work either. That makes this guessing game all the more fun.
Worried that I might be a victim of road rage and/or being stranded on the side of a road without gas, my father came to the rescue and helped me pay for a new convertible top. We found this amazing place called Hilltop Motors that specialized in VW's. They were a strange combination of hippie southerners that just so happened to have a top to fit my car. This wouldn't be the last time we would call on them, but my dad and I fixed the fusebox ourselves. Semi-win.
I do want to make it clear that I loved my car, strangely enough like a child, because looking back on it, it was unconditional. All these things that had gone wrong so far were not her fault and she still got me from one place to the other. For example, one day while driving to work, I had the exciting experience of having the hood fly up while I was driving at about 40 miles per hour. I calmly pulled over and put the hood back in it's place and kept driving on to work. Although the hood was now only connected by the latch (not that reliable to begin with obviously), the incident had caused the welded hinges to snap. Every time we changed the oil from that point on you had to take the hood completely off. Third rule of hoopties, must have at least one part attached by string, tiny amount of metal, wires, etc.
The Rabbit did protect me from my very first accident. I hit the car in front of me going less than five miles per hour. The reason for the slow motion accident is brake failure. Very funny since we had just paid a very large chain brake company to fix the brakes about a week before. While I tried to stop the car a good thirty yards away, when you have no brakes, hitting something is bound to happen. Luckily no one was hurt in the accident. More money went into a new book on how to fix my car. My dad and I drained the master cylinder and fixed the brakes ourselves. We rock!
|May or may not have been my reaction.|
My car, thus far, would seem to only have given me headaches, but all these problems were an adventure for me. I was still so young and I still had so much fun with her. Like the time I was in the turning lane on an incredibly busy street and the clutch gave out. Stuck in the turning lane with a car that will turn on, but I can't get it to go into first gear. I had to put it in neutral and push the car across three lanes of traffic, into a nearby parking lot. Rule number four for hoopties, must leave you stranded at the most inopportune time and in the strangest place.We towed her back to Hillside Motors for another repair.
Wow, this is getting long, but we are nearing the end of this epic journey. The final straw, as the case may be, wasn't actually a straw, but was the rear axle. While pulling out of my friends driveway, I heard a strange crunching noise that turned out to be my rear tire shifting from its original location to about eight inches closer to the front of the car. I really didn't know what had happened, but I knew she was not drivable. Another rule of hoopties, is that you are thankful it didn't kill you at the end of the day. A flatbed tow truck came and took her away to Hilltop Motors for the last time. As weird as it sounds, I was sad to see her go.
My little convertible was now someone else's little convertible. But she will always be my first car. She started every morning and drove me wherever I needed to go for almost a full year. Even if it wasn't entirely safely. While I had dreams to fix her up, to replace the rotting seats, to fix the apple sized holes under the carpet where you could see the ground beneath your feet, and to repair her chipping white paint. It just couldn't be done on a students budget. I wish we had kept track of the money spent on repairs. It would be nice to know the official total cost.
|Could have been me.|
While she may have been more trouble than she was worth, I did learn a lot about cars and all the things that could go wrong with them. I also spent a lot of quality time with my dad who taught me how to fix some of the things. I swear, he would get a little giddy when I would call and tell him about the latest mishap. It may sound silly, but it is probably my favorite car that I ever owned. Lots of good memories and big dreams surround it.
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