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My car is imperfect but loyal

I have a love/hate relationship with my car. I love it because it’s a joke on wheels, and I hate it for the same reason.
My dad bought a 1994 Chevrolet Corsica in 1996, drove it for a few years, then put it in a barn to store it until I could use it (which was pretty smart of him to think ahead like that). He gave it to me when I was 15, and even though I didn’t officially have a license, would let me drive it around the neighborhood and to the grocery store a few blocks away.
Looking back, the pride I had in my brick red Corsica (with matching brick red interior, which almost burns your eyes out) was amazing. That thing was mine. At the time, I didn’t notice all the Corsica’s little quirks.
I spent my free time scrubbing and shining it in the driveway. I’d even pull out our shop vac and vacuum the interior weekly. I wanted my car to look great because it was a reflection of me. Then, somewhere along the line, I kind of stopped caring. The list of Corsica quirks grew.
Every time I turn the key in the ignition and the engine roars (or, more often that not, sputters to life, coughing like a 65-year-old chain smoker), I’m shocked the thing still works.
The air conditioner never functioned (at least when I owned it). The engine makes a loud popping sound when the car is on and in park, and when it’s in drive, those outside the vehicle hear a sound similar to nails on a chalkboard. The windshield wipers move, but it’s a special day when they actually swipe water away.
The passenger side door will not open from the outside, and the driver side door lock will not unlock from the outside, making it impossible to lock the car. Sometimes while I’m driving down the street, the entire vehicle will just shut off, leaving me to coast to a stop.
This is when I have to turn the car back on, drive in reverse for a few feet, then drive forward – it’s the only way the car will continue to move. But the best part is the scent.
On rainy days when the heat is on, it’s not uncommon to smell a strange, decaying odor. Yep, that’s the scent of a dead bird that got stuck in the engine while the car was sitting in a barn. When we turned it on after it sat for a few years, the bird’s life ended – and left its lovely, decomposed-body odor to permeate forever through my heating vents.
I also have a bad habit of forgetting to roll the windows up at night, which has filled my car with rainwater on many occasions. Then, when I roll the windows up and the car bakes in the sun for a few hours, the stench is almost as awesome as the dead bird smell.
The cherry on the top of my wheezing, elderly red car is the gaping hole in the center console. When your car doors don’t lock, pretty much everything in the car is up for grabs for whomever is ballsy enough to steal from you.
I lost my fairly decent car CD player this way, which has resulted in an empty space in the center console, filled only by the random wires the thief so carefully detached from the stereo.
My point with all of this is that if I still prescribed to the same mindset I had when I was 15 – that my car was a reflection of me – I’d be a decrepit, crotchety old woman who poops her own pants too often and didn’t care to change her Depends. I let my peppy little car waste away in front of me. Who drives a car that smells like dead bird? I never thought I’d say it, but I do.
But after all this time, I haven’t saved up for a new vehicle. I haven’t even really wanted a new vehicle. The Corsica’s been too faithful to me. It’s gotten me through too many visits to other schools and spur-of-the-moment road trips.
It has too many of my mementos scattered inside. I’m sentimental – I can’t even throw away my old stuffed animals because they would feel sad. How can I get rid of my BFF, the Corsica, after all these years, even if it does suck to drive the three hours back home in a stinky, hot car with no stereo?
But like any old friend, it needs a little TLC once in a while. So I think I’ll start sprucing the ole’ girl up a bit. Give her a little makeover or something. Change her Depends. I think she’d appreciate it.
Lauren Rees is a junior journalism major from Schaumburg. She is the Scout managing editor.
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