Making Choices

MakingChoicesMiata

Four and a half years ago I bought a red roadster.  And this past week I sold it.  How do I feel about it?  I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out.

As midlife crises go, mine was mild.  My red convertible was a Mazda Miata that was approaching twenty years old and was well into six figures on the odometer.  It was, however, in excellent shape and sold by a fellow I knew who had maintained it impeccably over his longtime ownership.

I am still not sure whether a midlife crisis was involved, but the car happened along at just the right time.  The first couple of years my Mrs. and I enjoyed it quite a lot, finding many excuses to go places on warm summer evenings.

But.  (And isn’t there always a “but”?)  Everything changes.

I noticed a pattern.  Each summer (I only rarely drove it in the colder months when we were pressed for a third car) I found myself driving it only about half as many miles as I had driven it the summer before.  And for 2019 the trend line was following that pattern.

I was having trouble finding the time for tinkering on it and giving it those occasional buff & fluffs, something I had always enjoyed. The result was that the little red car was spending long stretches just sitting in the garage, accumulating dust and the occasional cobweb.

There was also an issue about garage space.  Last winter some storage items temporarily displaced Mrs. JPC’s vehicle from the garage, a situation that was becoming less OK as the months passed.  Yes, I was becoming one of those people who kept an old, inexpensive car inside while the much newer and more valuable one sat out.

I was also going to need to find storage room for the newly-purchased Snapper this winter.  First-world problems to be sure, but problems nonetheless – problems that all seemed solvable with one fewer car in the household.

I must also acknowledge my long history of being a fickle lover when it comes to cars.  Infatuation and romance are always followed by either disillusionment or at least indifference.  I handled this particular vehicular relationship better than I have handled most of the others, but I still felt ready to move on in other directions.  “Hey Red, we have to talk.  It’s not you, it’s me.”

So I did it.  I took pictures and put an ad online.  It was a nice car and was purchased by the first guy who came to look at it.  He is young and enthusiastic and had been looking for a good Miata for awhile.  He even let me know after his two hour drive home that he is completely in love with it and will provide it with an excellent home.  Which makes me feel better about the whole thing.

So now my problems are solved.  I no longer feel guilty about ignoring my Miata.  And my bride’s car is in the garage.  But I miss it, at least the fun parts of owning it.

It remains true that life is all about trade-offs.  Priorities in life come and go.  Sometimes a fun little red roadster is just what a guy needs.  And sometimes some empty garage space fits the bill.  The decision has been made and acted upon.  And if there was ever a mid-life crisis involved in this situation, it seems to be over now.

Perhaps someday I will be on the prowl for another hobby car.  I do love that sort of thing, you know.  But first I will have to make some room for it.

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18 thoughts on “Making Choices

    • As I think about it, it’s unusual to let go of a good older car. Most of the time it is a beloved car that has smacked you with one big repair bill too many or has suffered a catastrophic failure. I guess that would be screaming in your ear when it’s time. The whisper is more pleasant.

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  1. Somebody got themselves a fantastic Miata. Having seen and briefly driven said red Miata, it is indeed a nice one.

    Is breaking off a relationship with a car challenging (for some of us) due to our having to be the instigator? A car isn’t exactly like that lady friend that breaks the relationship off saying she just wants to be friends, a deed that saves us the trouble of doing the same thing.

    Regardless, congratulations on the newly acquired garage space. No doubt Mrs. JPC will greatly appreciate it.

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    • A good point about having to be the instigator. It’s easy when the car mistreats you or is too high-maintenence, but harder when it has always faithfully done everything you asked.

      I must add that it was a new experience selling something popular. Instead of looking for that rare “special kind of buyer”, I had what everyone wants, right down to the Resale Red paint. Maybe I didn’t ask for enough. 😁

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  2. It’s great that overall you can look back on a good experience, and know it went to a good home. These days I look at my 1963 VW occasionally and think “the kids are going to need a car soon, something that can be driven in the winter, I don’t want to maintain 5 vehicles…” But my problem is not only do I have unreasonable attachment to cars, it is highly likely that whoever I sell it too would lower and accessorize it in the current fashion, and there goes one of the dwindling number of original condition VWs.

    Nonetheless, I congratulate you on your decision, hope you enjoy the period of relative vehicular simplicity and perhaps someday dive back in to hobby car ownership. I will occasionally torture you with Mopar and Studebaker ads, what are CC friends for?

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    • I had the benefit of a car that was nice but not too nice. It was a good driver-quality, but there were little things that kept it down in value like high miles and some rust getting a toehold (as will happen to a car that comes from Michigan). Had the car been a lot nicer my decision might have been harder. Also, I did not put tons of time and money into it so was less invested.

      You make a good point on your VW. Yes, it is nice to see one at standard height and without that big roof rack that everyone wants to put on them now.

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  3. As mid-life crises go, yours doesn’t seem to have been too bad. I envy your love of cars: it’s a kind of joy that I’ve never experienced. Gadgets and gizmos are my guilty pleasure.

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    • I can certainly generate some enthusiasm for gadgets and gizmos (along with the occasional thingamajig). Someone has probably explored where passions like these come from. Why does one two-year-old get drawn to horses and another to machines? Cars have captivated me for as long as I can remember.

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  4. I seriously considered a used Miata when we were shopping for a car for my wife a few years ago. I wonder if it would be on the market, if we had bought one. Got a Golf instead. But your story reminded me of my one and only foray into sports car ownership. I was 29 at the time, so not a midlife crisis, though perhaps in anticipation of turning 30. It didn’t last long. In my case, it was the summer driving, especially in heavy traffic. Too much sun and exposure to diesel exhaust top down; too hot and exposure to various old Alfa smells with the top up ( no A/C). The sale was easy in those pre-Craigslist days. Full price, cash. Except the buyer, who had come 60 miles with his young kids, after work, came back 10 minutes later (his wife was in the Alfa, pre-cell phone of course) and asked for $20 back so he could take the kids to McDonald’s.

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    • Haha, the McDonald’s rebate is a car sale story I have never heard. And yes, I’m not sure I would have been happy with the car as a daily driver in all conditions. It’s occasional-use status is what kept it in sweet spot in my heart.

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  5. “I must also acknowledge my long history of being a fickle lover when it comes to cars. Infatuation and romance are always followed by either disillusionment or at least indifference.”

    love this line. the other night was listening to a lecture on greek myth and Aphrodite. sexual passion (or any passion) can be so striking and intense and burning one minute, then completely withdraw the next. like Aphrodite shooting or infecting you randomly, then pulling off her power at a later time (and often leaving a trail of destruction in its wake).

    the lecturer says in effect: “the greeks would have thought that the modern idea of basing a lifelong marriage on (sexual) passion was absolute insanity, it is inherently unstable and unreliable and should never be assumed to last.”

    further, is this not evidence that happiness is often more the pursuit, not the actual attainment, of the desiderata? like the heroin addict, we will again be “chasing the dragon” soon enough, that which we do not have

    sounds like it found a great home

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    • Yes, the thrill of the discovery and of getting to know all about the new one has been like a drug to me when it comes to cars. But as you note, it never lasts. I am fortunate to have avoided the pattern in my romantic life.

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