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Ride of a Lifetime

Ron Wayne

SAVED A BUNCH of money so you could retire and buy that sporty car you always wanted? My advice: Do it.

In almost 50 years of owning vehicles, I have bought just one car that was almost fully impractical. It had a shallow shelf of a trunk. My wife couldn’t drive it because it had a stick shift. More than a few times, I had to start it by pushing it down a hill, jumping in and popping the clutch. It was frequently at the mechanic’s shop.

But it was all worth it when the thing was running. My 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit convertible, also called a Cabriolet, had a peppy five-speed transmission with a 1.8-liter engine. It was a cool car—one you might see a young person drive.

I turned age 39 the year I bought it, but I wasn’t in the midst of a midlife crisis. I was a year into a new job and a new city. My wife was expecting our second child. It was an exciting and fulfilling time in my life.

We needed a second car after spending a year managing with just one vehicle, a fairly new Honda Accord. We had paid off the Accord with proceeds from the sale of our previous house. I wanted to continue to avoid car payments, so I had just $2,500 to spend.

I don’t recall how I found it, but I soon owned the German-built Cabriolet Wolfsburg edition. The seats were cloth and leather. The steering wheel and the gear shift were wrapped in black leather.

During the five years I owned it, the car often had engine problems. A mechanic told me it was because my Cabriolet was among the first to have fuel-injection instead of a diesel engine. I don’t know if that was true, but I know it was a lot of fun to drive—when there were no problems.

Being relatively light and with good horsepower, the car could accelerate quickly with the help of the five speeds. This was my fifth car with a standard transmission, so I knew how to get it to perform.

Five years after I purchased the Cabriolet, we bought a slightly used Dodge minivan, and we didn’t need three vehicles. It was time to let go of my sporty ride. I sold it for $2,500, what I had paid five years prior. Of course, over those five years, there were lots of repair bills. Still, I have no regrets. We should all own at least one vehicle in our life that’s more fun than practical.

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rayanmiller6303
rayanmiller6303
7 months ago

I felt the way you described with all of my Saab’s over the years.
My first love and now they are gone, maybe someday a car will move me like they did

Ben Rodriguez
Ben Rodriguez
7 months ago

One thing I dream of, for when our kids are a little older, is to buy a little roadster for the wife and I to cruise around in. Weekend trips to wineries…in my mind I’m already there.

R Quinn
R Quinn
7 months ago

My father was a car salesman in his later years selling Mercedes. From age 18 I promised him someday I would own one. A family, four children in college and life put that on long hold, but at age 60 I started a fund to save for the car. In 2014 at age 70 I paid cash for my Mercedes which I still drive.

As I write this I’m at a dealership after getting a blowout on the highway. I’m thinking if I damaged the wheel I’m looking at $1500 to $2,000.

But it was a dream, my only regret, my father never got to see my car.

Last edited 7 months ago by R Quinn
UofODuck
UofODuck
7 months ago

In 1974, at age 26, I bought a new BMW 2002 – British racing green, tan interior and a sun roof. I was absolutely convinced that I was the best thing since sliced bread. However, less than two years later, after the car had been broken into 3 times and 2 radios stolen, plus a dent in the front quarter panel, I sold the car and used the money for part of the down payment on my first house. It was the best financial decision of my life. It was also a lesson that cars merely serve the purpose of getting you from point A to point B. In the meantime, they just bleed money all over your driveway.

OldITGuy
OldITGuy
7 months ago

Reminds me of a motorcycle I had in my youth. It cost me every dime I had at the time, but it was worth it as the memories are priceless. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Chazooo
Chazooo
7 months ago

If you are not having whatever is fun for you, why bother living?

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