by Joshua Alan Terry
Mad Max: Beyond Trade-In

Three months into my mission I got my Dear JohnŠfrom a car. A letter from my parents announced that they had finally sold my pre-mission vehicle, my beloved 1983 Honda Accord, the ³Bluesmobile².

In three years, the Bluesmobile had taken me on 30,000 miles of daily commutes, road trips, and futile dates. At Viewmont High School it was known as ³that car with Gorbachev in the back seat², so named for the cardboard bust of the Soviet leader I had taped in my rear driverıs side window.

The Bluesmobile, back in the day at Viewmont.

But now, 90 days after being sworn in as a card-carrying LDS missionary, the Bluesmobile had been sold. Before leaving Iıd performed a solemn ceremony by taking down the Rolling Stones air refreshner and the Gorby picture after one last late-night cruise. Still, the final news of the sale came with sobering clarity. My loyal sidekick was gone.

My 96ı Maxima had no distinguishing Gorbachev cut-out, and I had to remove the chrome skull gearshift knob three years ago after I discovered it was stripping the threads of the gearshift post. But in five and a half years and 85,000 miles, ³Mad Max² took me on a lot more dates and a lot more road trips than the Bluesmobile, and parting with my ride last November was just as hard.

The '96 Maxima in all its glory.

The difference was that this time I had to pass over the keys myself. I couldnıt hide behind a mission 1300 miles away. I had to drive the car over to Randıs Auto Sales, kill the ignition, and walk away. For five days in-between signing the paperwork and the actual exchange, I felt guilty every time I drove it. Not because I was making the wrong decision. I actually thought my car was mad at me.

The point, as best as I can figure, is that despite my efforts to avoid materialism, I like many others have developed a deep-rooted passion for my automobiles. Itıs pretty much a given part of the American Dream these days. Your car is much more than your transportation; itıs your identity, for better or worse. It seems to be mine, anyway. And I realize how absurd that is.

One unique feature of the Bluesmobile: white tiger seatcovers.

I think that maybe this phenomenon is related to some of our favorite songs, movies, or sports teams: we have no logical or rational reason to feel so connected to them, and when pressed, admit to their inferior quality. But because of emotional connections to memories and other associations, these little bits of culture command our bereaved asinine loyalty. I still believe my life is inexplicably joined to the fortunes of the Utah Jazz. And I also think my cars are real people.

Itıs not such a far-fetched idea when you think about it. You make a lot of memories over 85,000 miles. Some of my most traumatic and exhilarating dates took place behind the wheel of that Maxima. And while the girls are long gone, the car was always there the next morning. The Maxima was there in the Summer of 2001 when I was so sick of the Davis County scene that I got on the freeway in Bountiful with a full tank of gas and didnıt get off until I hit Las Vegas four and a half hours later. It was there for a half-dozen road trips to Yellowstone, and at least three dozen spins up Logan Canyon to escape the frustrations of grad school. And when I took my infamous trip to Provo to confront the girl-of-my-dreams-du-jour for trying to dump me with an e-mail, the Maxima was the car that took this poor deluded fool down to Utah County. Iım fond of saying that Iıve paid a lot of dues in the last five years, and Mad Max paid most of them with me.

Then of course, there's the Mustang story...

But alas, when I tallied up my repair bills a few months back and realized that my beloved had charged me nearly $2000 worth of repairs since paying her off, I knew that it was time to move on. Better to retire the Maxima with honor than wait for the inevitable $1500 repair job that would cripple her for good.

So I decided to cut my losses, sew up a great run on a good note, and trade the Maxima in for a generous value at Randıs Auto Sales in Bountiful. A few days later, I found myself behind the wheel of a black 2002 Honda Accord Coupe with tinted windows and a leather interior. Iıve always wanted a black car.

But I still miss Max.

Enter the Batmobile.



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