Warhorse follows clunkers to the farm

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 8, 2009

Can you recall your first car?

Mine was a 1980 lime green Volare station wagon that required at least 45 minutes on cold mornings to warm enough as to not stall on the grueling trip down hill two blocks to high school. Even with a Plymouth, walking was not an option once driving age was reached.

Everyone’s first car should be a clunker because young drivers are clunkers. Wrap a 1980 station wagon around a tree and not much is lost. Wrap a new Lexus around the same tree and, well, it becomes a Volare, at least in value.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

A desperate man once answered an ad for the Volare. He needed it to take him to the Bronx — a 45-minute ride without traffic — every day. The laughter nearly broke the window before he handed over $50. I swore I was taking him for a ride.

My second car also was a clunker, so poorly made the engine nearly fell out. The third might have been the biggest of them all.

The Geo Metro had 45 horses working in unison to give the best three-cylinder ride ever. That Metro also was the most expensive car I’ve owned, but by the time it reached the end, it took an act of Congress and 45 minutes to climb the Frontage Road hill outside of The Vicksburg Post.

A salesman in Jackson offered $500  trade-in, and I thought I was getting the better end of the deal.

Then came the Warhorse — a ’99 Saturn bought in 2000. Over the next eight years, it traveled 117,000 miles. I drove it to New York twice, and it has been to high school football fields in every corner of this state.

It, too, had reached the limits, though. Dog hair overtook the cabin, making it impossible to carry passengers. Cat claws had turned the shiny blue paint into jagged pinstripes, yet it ran like a champion.

Now it is in new hands and hopefully will run as long for her. When you find a car that does everything asked, every day of its life, you tend to hold on as long as possible even as the dog hair finds its way into the coffee mug.

Though not much to look at, the Saturn became the instant favorite of the four cars I’ve owned the past 18 years.

Many of us remember our first car, but how many can recall the fourth? When it’s the only decent one, it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Sean P. Murphy is Web editor of The Vicksburg Post. Write to him at Box 821668, Vicksburg, MS 39182, or e-mail smurphy@vicksburgpost.com..