Tony’s already broken this story on Facebook, which I guess is appropriate, since he’s kind of the hero, and I’m kind of the villain. And our car is kind of the victim.
About a month ago, we were in the market for a new car. “New” as in “new to us.” Since, as you know, Craigslist is our preferred place to get stuff we can’t get for free, Tony spent a good several days checking out the used car market in Orlando. Our basic criteria were that it be under $2500, run reliably, and not be a gas guzzler.
Really, is that too much to ask? Apparently, mostly yes. It seems that we were not the only people in Orlando in search of a cheap commuter car. In fact, demand seemed to be seriously overtaking supply. We kept looking at cars that were either over 200,000 miles, ripped to shreds inside, or reeking of cigarette smoke. Or all three.
One day as he was browsing through cars yet again, it occurred to Tony that there were quite a few relatively inexpensive PT Cruisers, and that they tended to be newer, in better shape and with lower mileage than the bottom of the line sedans we had been looking at. We went out and looked at a few, and had a great time test driving. In fact, with its retro feel and appearance (even more so inside than out) driving a PT Cruiser is like being in an old movie. We liked it.
And then a few days later, we found THE CAR. It was a powder blue 2007 PT Cruiser listed for half the blue book price.
As soon as it popped up on Craigslist (late on a Friday evening), Tony texted the owner and fixed a time to see it the next morning. We arrived at his small auto dealership south of Orlando first thing on Saturday morning. He turned out to be a German who exports American-made cars to buyers in Germany. I guess nobody there wanted a PT Cruiser, so he needed to get rid of it quickly to make room for new arrivals.
It was our best Craigslist coup in at least a month. We bought it on the spot, and happily drove it home.
A few days later I was going 65 on the highway when the car suddenly started to bump violently. Incredibly, it was a familiar feeling to me. Several years ago when I was eight months pregnant with Raj, the wheel of our Mazda fell off the car (also on the highway during rush hour).
In what must be one of the most surreal moments of my life, I watched my wheel go rolling down I-15 all by itself. Of course it managed to roll under the most expensive car that happened to be driving by, a tiny yellow sports car. Fortunately, we were all unhurt. Unfortunately, the loss of a wheel totaled our car.
So when I felt that familiar bumping, I knew to pull right off onto the shoulder. I was happy that this time I was neither eight months pregnant nor toting a toddler in the back seat. I wasn’t so happy that our tire had exploded and torn the bumper and left headlight completely off the car.
I didn’t even have to try to decide whether I could change a tire or not. The Florida highway patrol has some special vehicle assistance people who I guess drive up and down changing tires all day. It took him all of three minutes to change my tire and send me on my way. Yes, I cried, but not until I was telling my mom the story later that day.
So, our lovely new car was reduced to this:
Sad times. Very sad times. And given that we are the type of people who hunt around for used car deals on Craigslist, we’re also the type of people who don’t have hundreds (or thousands) of dollars lying around to get a new bumper installed.
And this is where I indulge in some of the conjugal bragging that Tony and I usually agree to eschew because it’s so incredibly annoying to listen to people coo about the awesomeness of their spouses. But I really can’t help myself.
He fixed our bumper. All by himself. Well O.K., with a little help.
In fact, take another quick look at the very first photo, which is actually post-reconstruction. And tell me Tony hasn’t missed his calling in life as an auto body repairman.
Here’s a closeup of the scientific precision of his repair job.
So, it’s a bit of a Frankencar. But I think it’s adorable, and has so much character. And as a friend reminded me, that’s exactly what they would have done in Tunisia (or any number of other developing countries): fix anything, any way. So hurrah for our new car, my handy husband, and me surviving yet another car tire incident without a scratch.