Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Changing gears

This morning I dropped off my 1990 Honda Civic station wagon at High Road Automotive for its routine quarterly oil change and checkup. I wandered home along Ballard Avenue; it was nearly 9 a.m. but only the old industrial buildings were open. Most of the trendy new shops don't wake up until 11.

I headed up 24th Avenue NW and had just stopped in at the java place on the corner of NW 59th Street for a latte when my cell phone rang. It was High Road. They said the car needed a new clutch, but the new clutch, with labor, would be quite a bit more than the book value of the 1990 Civic.

I asked them to give me half an hour to think about it. Then I walked out of the coffee shop, sat down on the curb, and burst into tears. I really like that car. In addition to having it thoroughly pampered at High Road, I get it detailed every spring, touch up scratches in the metallic paint, and, of course, have it decorated with custom bumper stickers.

I can make the case that it's worth installing a new clutch and keeping the car because it's in otherwise excellent condition (only 80,000 miles in 17 years) and likely to keep running to 200,000 miles. But it's also true that the car lacks airbags, and that Zorg dislikes driving it because it has a manual transmission.

For the past two years, I've been looking at the new Honda Fit, a very similar compact station wagon. It has great ratings from Consumer Reports, a more-than-reasonable price tag, all the safety features, and even a connection for my iPod.

So perhaps it's time to move into the 21st century.

But not until I find a good home for the Civic.

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