We had been friends since July 18, 1996 and since then had spent a lot of time together on a daily basis. That summer of 1996, my wife pointed out we were paying way to much for repairs on the steel grey Pontiac STE 6000 I had been driving with almost 250,000 miles on it. It was time to buy a new car. Secretly, I was glad. I had gotten the Pontiac from a co-worker years before because it was a good deal, but when I angled my 6'4" frame into the driver's seat, I felt like I was in a tuna fish can with the lid still on.
So, I went shopping. A new type of car dealership had sprung up, called Car Choice. They took low mileage cars, cleaned them up and brought major systems up to standard, then sold them for a reasonable price.
Wandering around the lot, I saw it. A 1994 dark green Lincoln Mark VIII. I won't say it was love at first sight, but maybe the first test drive. With a V8 engine, it had power! And a cockpit I could fit into. No more squashed knees or wondering if a bump would make my head hit the ceiling. And it had a sun roof. I am partial to sun roofs--even had one put in the Camaro I had driven before the Pontiac.
My wife and I sat in the car, trying to decide, Yes or No. We do those kinds of things together. "You really like it, don't you," she said.
|Berk (right) w/The Car in calendar picture presented by salesman (left)|
I looked around at the instrument panel spread before me, feeling the leather seats almost form-fitting my frame after adjusting the electronic controls. I already knew how the car performed. "I've always wanted a car like this," I said, a little reluctantly. The price was a bit higher than we'd planned.
She smiled. "Then, we should get it and you should enjoy it. Let's splurge a little."
I drove my Mark VIII for 16 years. In its later years, it required a new transmission, but few other major repairs. Except the air ride system. Instead of physical shocks, springs and struts it rode on air bags that were supposed to adjust and give the ultimate ride. What they ended up doing was a nightmare--they never worked right. Only for that car, would I have persevered so long.
But finally, we had to make a choice. The air ride system had failed for the umpteenth time, stranding my car in the garage. It sat for awhile as we decided what course to take. We were moving and needed to either fix it or scrap it.
"That much!" my wife said when I told her what the dealership quoted for the repair.
"I know, it's just not worth it. I told them I wouldn't fix it unless they got rid of the air ride and gave me shocks and struts, but they said there's no conversion kit."
She looked at me sadly. "I'll find someone who'll buy and tow it away. I'm sure we can get at least a couple hundred out of it."
I spent a sleepless night after telling the dealership we were going to scrap the Lincoln. The next morning, the dealership called me back. They had miraculously discovered a conversion kit--at a huge savings. Will miracles ever cease?
So, I rescued my friend after all. Next week, we start a new life together. With any luck, my old friend won't retire until I do.