Sunday, 13 September 2015

Uncle Sandor's Buick

    Stephanie Plum is one of my weaknesses. If this leaves you none the wiser, she's an accident-prone bounty hunter from Trenton, New Jersey, and she's the heroine of a long-running series of books written by Janet Evanovich. It ain't high-class literature by any means, but it's entertaining.
    A long-running thread in the Stephanie Plum novels is her inability to hold on to a succession of comedic junkyard cars. She's had them stolen, blown up, burned out, the works. And when she loses a car she always spends a while driving her family's spare car, an immaculate 1953 Buick formerly owned by her deceased Uncle Sandor. This car is indestructible and tirelessly reliable, yet she hates it as it's a behemoth in the way only 1950s American cars can be and it represents her failure to hang on to a car of her own.
    I don't share Stephanie's attitude to the Buick, I'd rather like the option of a '53, portholes and all. In fact I'd probably run it as my daily if it were mine, after all it has supernatural levels of reliability. But if Stephanie has Uncle Sandor's Buick, I have the Wreck. For most of my adult life it's been my spare car, and in times of car trouble it's been my only car.
    So with the Rollerskate suffering an embarrassingly terminal failure I've been relying on the Wreck for the last six weeks. It's nice to be bimbling around the British countryside in a five decade old car for a while, but truth be told it does get a little old. Double-declutching, brakes from another era and a touchy choke that means on the first twenty minutes of a journey that the engine doesn't like idling get to you after a while.
    A replacement for the Rollerskate has come courtesy of an elderly neighbour. The Barge was cheap and timely, but not the car I'd have chosen. A twenty year old large estate car with a somewhat agricultural diesel engine, from some perspectives it's faultless. Well maintained and a model with a reputation for reliability I can see it'll be like the Buick, a car that refuses to die.
    The Rollerskate was the only car I've ever bought new, and probably will be the only one I'll ever buy new. It could be repaired for a hefty price and I'll hang on to it in that hope, but I suspect I'd be better off finding another of the same model and using it for spares. It's another chapter of my life over, another piece of What Went Before severed. It's silly to upset myself over a car, but this one represents more than just transport.


  1. Cars may be metal and plastic but they are intensely personal, like one's toothbrush, and have personalities. They give you service, faithful or shoddy, but that service gives them a hold on you, a claim on your proper care, and the bond is strange but strong. That's why we can't let them die an ignoble death. It has to be a Viking's Death, or its metaphorical equivalent anyway.

    I'm spurred on to look into the books you mentioned!


  2. Well put. I guess I got my money's worth, but still an odd sadness.

    I warn you, they're a little trashy :)

  3. I have always maintained that it is a mistake to name inanimate objects, once you give them a name you develop a relationship with them. The cars (and tubas!) that I miss are the ones that acquired names. I still miss Jade ~ a dark green Singer Vogue ~ she was my daily driver, sometimes I would forget I would be sitting traffic and think "What are they all looking at?" and then remember, lots of chrome, big wings and big high shiny headlights!

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  5. Damn it, a spam comment crept in there!

    I've never named a car. I refer to my cars here by name as pseudonyms only, to avoid having to say "The Rolls", or "The Maserati". :)

  6. I have a 1976 Buick Electra you can even has four portholes each side

  7. You know I'd take you up on that one if there wasn't an ocean in the way :)