It was 2005 when I first thought about a Volkswagen.
Well, I had thought about it long before that. But 2005 is when I had the chance to act.
At that time, I was working for the newspaper and my card — an Oldsmobile Alero (one which I had truly loved) was giving me some issues. Eventually, the engine decided to go. That put me in rush mode. I needed a vehicle. I tried to find another Alero (a stick shift this time) to no avail. I had a loaner for about a week, then a rental. Things were getting crazy.
I needed a car.
My only requirements were a stick shift and something reliable.
Calling around to area dealerships didn’t get me many hits. Then I called VW. They didn’t have anything — but, for some reason, I asked about lease deals. There was one running for a Jetta that made it very affordable. It was a 2005 1/2 edition as the company was switching body styles. I went that day to try one out.
The salesman told me to get on it, take it for a ride, really give it a go. So I did. I only drove it about 6-7 miles, but I was in love. A day or two later, I had my first new car. It had a whopping (give or take) 350 miles on it.
That was July 2005.
The car has been by my side ever since. Sure, it had a few issues here and there. The brakes didn’t always seem the best. A timing chain went (the head of the service department at that time said he had worked on VWs for about 20 years and had only seen it happen twice). At the end, there were nagging issues that I had not been able to take care of, considering my employment status.
But this car kept going.
Despite the miles continue to pile up, the car kept rolling along. The heat only worked on level 4. The ABS and all weren’t great. There was a light out somewhere I couldn’t find. The gas pedal was broke, so you had to heel the pad when pressing it. The coils were cracked. The exhaust definitely would have needed work, if not replacing, too.
You get the picture.
If you factor in labor, I’d be willing to bet I’d have been looking at $3,500 or so to fix everything to get it back in full running order.
That’s all without considering the 172,000+ miles on the car. What if I fixed all of those issues and then something major went on it? As great of a car it had been, those miles weren’t always easy.
I went on any road possible. Back roads were never off limits. I traveled countless miles for the newspaper. I went for even longer rides when it came to personal fun. From geocaching to softball (I went to a state tournament with the car the first day I owned it) to trips all over the Northeast, it was a car that didn’t let me down.
Canada. Maine. Philadelphia. The Jersey Shore. GeoWoodstock. Allegany Geobash. New York City. Disc golf tournaments all over. State parks, national parks and local parks. Washington D.C. It’s the only car I’ve known for geocaching, so it’s been in at least 12 or 13 states.
It’s safe to say, it’s been all over the place.
And to think about it this way — it’s become a bit of an extension of me. July 2005 to now is 8 years, 5 months — almost to the day I bought it. That’s a long time to own one car.
I think the longest I had ever owned a car before that was about three or so years, and I’ve owned plenty (a Ford Ranger, two Oldsmobiles, two Pontiacs and a Dodge Colt).
To say it was hard to hand this car over is an understatement.
Still, every car — no matter how long you’ve owned it — runs its course. There comes a bit of reality when it comes to fixing and such. I knew my Jetta was on its final path, so I figured I’d buy within the next few months. Unless, of course, a deal came along.
The sales manager at the local VW, Dave, is somebody I’ve known for 20 or so years. I coached him in baseball, worked with him for a bit at two newspapers, and have been friends for many years. So I touched base with him and he told me he’d give me a good deal. I noted to him that I was just starting my search, so I didn’t know how fast I’d get into a car.
It went faster than planned.
Let’s just say everything aligned. I got what I wanted for my car, got the payments I was hoping for and they had what I was searching for.
I went in on a Saturday to see what there was. The conversation was quick at first:
Dave: I have a car for you to test drive.
Me: What color?
Me: You’re one-for-one. Stick shift?
Me: You’re two-for-two. What year is it?
So far, so good. He gave me the keys and told me “to drive it like you stole it.”
Talk about four-for-four.
The car had 18 miles on it when I pulled out of the lot. I doubled it that day and pulled in knowing this was quite the car. We dickered a little to get numbers where I liked them. I said I’d sleep on it and made my decision within 24 hours.
On Monday (Dec. 23) I went in and filled out some paperwork. I went back Christmas Eve in the morning and Santa came early. It was tough to hand over the keys to the old gal, but getting the new bad boy was something quite exhilarating.
I had flipped 173,000 the day before I traded the old Jetta in.
When I handed the keys over to Dave, I told him it was actually quite hard. It’s truly quite amazing how attached one can get with a car. But this one, as noted before, was a little more. It was me. It was easy to see me coming (if you knew me) and, in recent months, probably easy to hear me coming, too!
This car has really been amazing and has gone through so much for me. And it kept going and going. I’m sold on VW and how good of a car is made by the company.
I took a couple of snapshots and watched as somebody from service came and drove it away. I then slipped into my new car — which now had a whopping 43 miles on it — and drove out of the dealership.
But it’s not without memories, that’s for sure. And, even after nearly 8 1/2 years, I still loved driving that car.
The first day I owned my initial Jetta, I told a few people I didn’t know if I’d ever drive anything other than Volkswagen again. I loved their cars that much. And though I was prepared to look at other brands and dealers, I had been honest with Dave that I’d be extremely loyal if he’d work with me. It’s kind of like a free agent in spots who gives his (or her) old team first cracks.
In the end, I just didn’t want to leave VW.
I’m extremely happy with this car and look forward to making trips and memories with it. Hopefully the miles on this one won’t be as hard as the last one, but I know what to expect and know what to get out of it.
And, I look forward to driving it every day, which is something one should always get out of a car. Here’s to new memories and many more VW miles!
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