My first car was a hand-me-down. A cousin of mine decided to create a ‘franken-car’ by marrying the body of an early 1960’s Ford Galaxy with the engine and transmission of a Mustang of roughly the same vintage. It proved to be a reasonably reliable vehicle, and I drove it until my inattention lead me to skid into an intersection in the middle of a torrential rain, The resulting collision damaged it to the point where I had to retire it. I saw it, years later, with the body restored, being driven by a chap who seemed happy to have it.
After that, I went through a string of used cars until 1996, when I decided to splurge and buy a new car. By then, I had graduated to smaller cars, and my initial infatuation with automatic transmissions had given way to a dedication to manual transmissions. It took a bit of shopping around, but I finally found a ride I wanted: a Honda Accord with ‘five-on-the-floor’ and an economical four-cylinder engine. The dealer had to trade with another Honda dealer to get it, but I got the impression that everyone involved was glad to move the car off the lot.
“Hoss”, as I eventually nicknamed the car, proved to be a reliable and loyal steed. But twenty years of wear, several accidents, and 200,000+ miles have begun to take their toll. So now I’m car shopping again…and finding that manual transmission cars are even rarer than they were when I purchased “Hoss”.
I am also being reminded of why I hate car shopping.
In my current economic situation, I can’t afford a new car, so I’m not even bothering to look. That limits me to looking for used versions of vehicles that are rare to start out with…a very small pond to fish in indeed. The Internet, you would think, would be a great tool in a search like this, and you’d be right but for one fact: the accuracy of Web pages depends on how often the dealership updates their information. I’ve contacted dealerships about vehicles, only to find out that, no, they no longer have that vehicle, it was sold a couple of days ago…or a couple of weeks ago. Then, once you call, the salesman (and they always seem to be men) insists on trying to sell me a car I’m not interested in, or tries to change my mind about wanting a manual transmission.
I explained to one why I wanted to stick with a manual. The flexibility in shifting, the ability to save fuel by dropping a car out of gear on a downhill slope and coasting, but I might as well have tried to explain it to this laptop. So I guess I’m stuck talking to these predatory morons in hopes of finding a vehicle that satisfies my needs and fits my budget.
I just hope “Hoss” keeps running until I can find its replacement…and that my patience doesn’t fray.