The relationship started in November 1993. Some people consider this relationship to be a status symbol and a reflection of their personality. They spend a lot of time and money on keeping their “baby” shiny and purring like a kitten. I’m sure by now you are thinking “Get to the point. What are you talking about?”
OK, the subject of this week’s column is the loss I suffered last week. My 1993 Subaru Legacy Station Wagon finally bit the dust, shuffled off the mortal coil, expired, went kaput and any other phrase that describes how a vehicle ends up in the scrap yard.
This story begins in November 1993 when my old, beat up Toyota Celica was giving out. It struggled to get up the South Hills of Eugene. Since I worked high atop Blanton Heights at KVAL-TV to forecast the weather on television I thought getting a vehicle with all-wheel drive was a good idea. As Chief Meteorologist it was my job to be there to advise the public on what to do when there was a storm in progress whether or not it was during my regular shift. I purchased the car at what was then Romania Subaru which is now Kendall Subaru. I never gave my car a name like some people do, but I always referred to it as him or he.
Driving up and down a steep 1,350 ft. hill twice a day (at least) for 17 years was an exciting trip especially during some of the snow and ice storms we’ve had. I lived here for more than a year before buying him and he made the trip much easier. There were many times when there was ice on the roadway and as I would arrive at work someone would ask me if it was very slippery out there. Many times I had no answer because the Subaru did just what the commercial used to say. It changes from “the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip.”
The view from high atop Blanton Heights was always spectacular during and after a snow storm. I never used studded tires so my stormy best friends have been the “Quick Fit’ tire chains that I purchased from Les Schwab. When I first bought the chains I practiced putting them on while the car was still in the garage (protected from the cold wind and snow). I felt like I was on the pit crew for an Indy car race team. I was able to put the chains on a tire in about a minute. With all-wheel drive vehicles you have to put chains on all four wheels. That meant I could get the job done in about 5 minutes. Here a link to Les Schwab’s web page showing Winter driving videos including how to put on the Quick Fit chains.
One of those snow storms started in the evening while I was at work. I usually left the station around midnight and this night I hopped in my car and started to drive from the parking lot to the driveway when the car acted strangely. There was a thin layer of ice under the few inches of snow that fell. I had to put on the chains before attempting the trip down the hill. It was 350 feet from the parking lot to Blanton Road, but as I already mentioned a rather steep incline which was treacherous. A couple of other staff members went down the hill while I was chaining up and they got stuck toward the bottom of the hill. I had to wait until they got free before going down otherwise I would have crashed into them. I always said that people pay a lot of money for “thrill rides” and I had thrill ride every day down that hill in the ice and snow. I remember many white knuckled rides praying all the way down. With all of the driving up and down Blanton Heights and zigzagging through all of the curves my Subaru took a beating. I had to replace the transmission and of course I wore out multiple sets of tires well before the warrantee time was up.
Since I live at 600 ft. elevation my car was the only reason I could get out of my own driveway and navigate my street during the snow and ice storms.
Over the years I was involved in two accidents with deer. They survived a bit better that the station wagon. It took about $800 each time to repair the damaged they caused. On deer ran in front of me and the other actually ran into the left rear quarter of the car on the driveway while I was going up to work.
I was involved in only one more accident, but this time it was the strangest one I have ever witnessed. As I was making a left turn onto the street where I live a bicycle came flying down the hill and struck the right side passenger door. The bicyclist flew into the air shattering the windshield, putting 3 dents in the roof and ended up in the street by the curb along the rear quarter of the car. He did survive the ordeal. When the bike hit the car it actually struck so hard that it moved the car sideways. It felt like a car hit us. That makes it pretty obvious that the bicycle was really flying down the hill, since I was hardly moving as I was making a left turn on a rising hill. The door mirror broke off and shattered the passenger door window covering my adult daughter in broken glass. Luckily, she received only a few cuts on her forehead.
The car was in such bad shape that the insurance company listed it as a total loss. I took the money they gave me for the value of the vehicle and had it repaired enough to be functional, but not pretty. The Subaru lasted more than 4 years after that and just recently it gave up the ghost when the engine died.
I checked out companies that would take the car and give me some money in return. I have been a member of AAA for over 45 years so I gave them a call to tow my car to the wrecking yard. That’s when I found out, to my surprise, that AAA will only tow vehicles that are being taken to a shop for repairs. I contacted B & R Auto Wrecking in Springfield and they said they tow the vehicles and deduct the towing cost from what they will pay for the car. Fair enough.
My car was picked up last week, Wednesday March 1st, by Shane the driver from B & R Towing who lovingly put my dead friend on the flatbed ramp truck and took him to the auto graveyard. So long old friend. You will be missed.
Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.