A Car For Susan

Yes, another one of my wonderful children has just turned 16.  Susan, being the kind of daughter that she is, had studied for her learner’s permit test for the last two months, and she arranged to take the test on her 16th birthday.  Naturally, she passed.  The only question she got wrong was the one that asked “how much sleep does a teenager need each night?”  In case you are wondering, the answer is 8, and sleeping in class does not count toward the total.

We are short on cars in this household, so now I have to think of what kind of car I want for Susan’s training and eventual long-term use.

From looking at her, you might think that she wants one of these:

pink vw

It is small, cute, and pink, and it will be easy to parallel park.  But her inner princess is in hiding, and a little vehicle like isn’t safe enough for my daughter.  Besides, I am NOT getting into the passenger seat of that Barbie-mobile to teach her how to drive a stick shift.  So then I thought she should drive something that has lots of protective metal on it, and that will command respect from the other drivers.  Like this:

armored hummer

Of course, parallel parking this beast will be difficult, the gas mileage will be awful, and the artillery piece (or perhaps rocket launcher?) on top might not be street legal except maybe in Texas and Idaho, but those are minor details.  However, a machine like this has its own not so hidden dangers.  Like, it will seriously impress the boys.

So, being the practical person that I am, I came up with the perfect solution.  Vehicles of this type are usually very well maintained, so one of these should be reliable, even if I buy it used.  It is big and safe, and people who drive past it tend to slow down, because it reminds them that they are but dust, and to dust they shall return:

hearse 1

This also has the added benefit of having lots of storage space for when she goes away to college and has to take stuff with her. Of course, the vehicle she gets will be used, and black is an impractical color because of the heat, so maybe this slightly older model is more suitable:

pink hearse

I have mentioned these plans to my daughter, and she does not approve.  My wife doesn’t take me seriously either.  I wonder why?


3 thoughts on “A Car For Susan

  1. In all seriousness, let me heartily recommend (my own daughters are now cowering, wherever they may be, knowing what comes next) the Ford Escort station wagon with a manual transmission.

    I bought a new one for Mary Ruth in 1995–it was totaled in 2001 or so, with something like 125,000 miles on it; at MR’s firm insistence I found another. At almost 180,000 miles that car (by now an off-to-college car for daughter #1) was totaled. And yet I managed to find another one, which two daughters took to over 140,000 miles before succumbing at the hands of a boyfriend who couldn’t manage to learn to use the clutch, and stripped it.

    Some conclusions:
    From that initial purchase (for cash), with subsequent insurance settlements, I got over 400,000 miles. The sum total of maintenance consisted of oil changes, brake pads, windshield wipers, lights, and (curiously) the timing belt on each car (at approx. 110,000 miles, on each of ’em). They were insanely reliable.

    As a teen-mobile, they are terrific. They are moderately roomy, but look teensy. So they are not the choice of crowds. I am a firm believer in the Received Truth that each additional teenaged boy in the car reduces the mean IQ by 5 points–boys will not want to get in the back seat, so the effective range of IQ-limiting boyness is 1.

    And–they’re a lot of fun to drive. If your daughter is like mine, she will not let the boy drive–it’s her car; and she wants all the fun. And she’ll get the thrill of fuming when oinking chauvinist pigs insist that she can’t possibly drive a stick shift–that frisson of feminist fury that will make her day.

    For reference–I still curate a Ford Focus (weeping daughter, after shopping for cars, seeing the yet-another-Escort-station-wagon-with-a-stick I’d found in a junkyard in central Pennsylvania, insisted she’d had enough) that is used by daughters or their husbands when they come to visit. The clutch/transmission is not nearly as easy, but it has been just as trouble-free to operate.)

    From my narrative you may have noticed that two of my three Escort station wagons were totaled. I do not believe that Escort station wagons attract reckless, speeding uninsured motorists in the way that trailer parks attract tornados, but the evidence to date is a bit disturbing.

  2. mY oldest is about that age, and while I’ll definitely teach her to drive my manual transmission pickup (’97 Sierra), I’m thinking that the best choice for her might be an older Buick sedan. Safe as anything, not much room for messing around, comfortable, and super-reliable if you keep those old V6s in tune. I’ve driven the Focus and the Escort and love ’em, but a bit too flaky a vehicle for my kids, I think.

  3. The Focus is definitely on my short list. Ours has not been as reliable as yours, but then again, it arrived at our family “pre-dented,” having been driven into a ditch and into a deer by a young relative. It was also free, so we are very grateful for it.

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