Last year my wife and I traded my 1997 Olds Cutlass on a 2009 Chevy Traverse. Hardly Sophie's Choice, we decided to keep our 1999 Nissan Pathfinder which I have been driving ever since. The Pathfinder has been dead reliable for the ten years we've owned it. Nothing has gone wrong on it, the only money spent has been on gas and maintenance.
But time has a way of catching up to all things. Maggie, our cocker-mix pound puppy is now 13 and partially deaf and blind. I'm in my 40's and can't stay out all night and still function the next day. Both Maggie and I require regular check ups and more upkeep. And the Pathfinder, which is going on 14 years old, is beginning to require more upkeep as well.
The Pathfinder's maintenance needs are minor--flush the coolant, change the belts and hoses, change the transmission and differential fluid. I'll also eventually need new tires and brakes. And there are other little nagging problems--the CD player no longer works; the power antenna is broken; the driver seat is worn thin in places. Nothing that can't be fixed.
As transportation, its ideally suited for my needs. I don't worry about parking it outside. It's great for cub scout camping, trips to the hardware store, or hauling things like bags of mulch, used lawnmower oil, old paint cans, and other things that could spill or stain the carpet. I don't think twice about using the Pathfinder for anything, everything. I just get in it and go. I know it will work. I know it will be there, ready to go every time I drive it.
That last sentence sums up what most people want out of a car. It's the reason why the Toyota Camry is the #1 car in America, why Alfa Romero left our shores, and it caused British Leyland to dissolve by the light of its dim Lucas electrics, in its own pile of rust and leaking fluids. But I'm not most people, and that's the problem.
When it comes to cars, I'm at best a high functioning addict or serial monogamist. I'm constantly trolling Craigslist, eBay, or other classifies for cars. My head contains a short list of cars I'd like to own, which is always changing and evolving. Could I keep the Pathfinder and buy a used Alfa Romero or, Porsche 924/928/944? Or if I sold the Pathfinder, could I rely on a Mercedes 190 Cosworth or E55 AMG, BMW M3/M5, or Jaguar XJR as everyday transportation? Do I take the safe route and buy a new or late model Infiniti, VW GTI, or Mazda 3?
Sometimes freedom is too many choices. Or at least as Mr. Spock once said, "Having is not as pleasing as wanting." Right now the penchant to dream is far stronger than the lure of something new and shiny. But maybe that's because I haven' t found the shiny thing that will sate that penchant yet.
In the meantime, I did the only sensible thing I could do: I took the Pathfinder to the hardware store to buy paint for my latest home improvement project... and then took it to get washed.