FinanceBuying a new car - Stacy Willoughby

November 14, 2018by Stacy

I’ve had my new Subaru Forester for over a year, and I love it. It didn’t start that way. When we moved to our rustic cabin in the woods on the mountain, we both knew that eventually, we would both need an AWD or 4WD vehicle. I had been driving a red convertible VW Beetle for twelve years. I loved that car. I had been dreaming about it ever since the new Beetle came out.


That car was so fun! Turbo and compact. I felt like I could go anywhere. There were a few little annoyances like the cup holders were in an awkward place, so even though there were two holes, you could only have one cup in there. Later, I had trouble with gas pump nozzles pumping gas too fast, and having to exercise a lot of patience when filling up. Rick had this whole counting the tenths of a gallon per second system that he used to make sure that he was pumping slow enough so that the pump wouldn’t shut off. The sports tires on it didn’t want to drive in the snow or wear chains, and they just wanted to slide around.

Stacy in her VW Beetle Convertible
Photo credit – Jamie Gilman

Those were minor inconveniences compared to how fun it was to drive, especially with the top down. I loved blasting music, driving fast, and singing along at the top of my lungs. I even drove with the top down when it was cold, as long as it wasn’t raining. If I was having a bad day, the right song and that car could turn my whole day around.


The convertible wasn’t practical for mountain living on a regular basis. So I went out looking for a new car last fall. Getting a new car is fun, right? And being 4’8″ tall also adds a little wrinkle to which cars fit me. Reaching the pedals without having to eat the steering wheel seemed like a lot to ask of most cars. Seriously, I was a real brat while we were shopping. The salespeople were funny about how excited they were for me, but I was not having any of it. I did not want to give up my car. The kind of car that I would have to buy would not be near as fun as my Beetle, no matter how good it smelled.


They don’t make cute little AWD cars. And they are certainly not convertibles. Most small SUVs look like something a cool grandma would drive. ARGH! A Subaru WRX or a VW RX3 did not have enough ground clearance for our rough road. Nissan makes a Murano AWD convertible that is sweet to look at but probably wasn’t tough enough for what we would be asking it to do. I did not want to get a Subaru because they seemed so practical and ubiquitous. My problem was a lack of imagination on the part of car designers.


There was enough time for me to work on this while I was shopping, but it was tough to let go of my attachment to the convertible. Previously, I spent years thinking about when we would move to the mountains and what kind of car I would drive. I knew that it would be difficult, but I was hoping that the car designers would have figured something out in the meantime. After a while, I tried to keep my bitching to myself, mostly because I knew it wasn’t helping anything. Seriously, I was pouting about having to get a new car!


I drove everything. Or almost everything. I was afraid that if I drove that Nissan convertible, I would fall in love with it. Jeep, Chevrolet, Dodge, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Buick, Hyundai. (I didn’t drive a Ford because I’m not allowed to buy one. Rick is a die-hard car guy, and he has strong feelings about Fords.) I often forget about how short I am, and car shopping made it impossible to ignore. And I told my pathetic story about having to give up my convertible to anyone who would listen.


Of course, I bought a Subaru Forester because it is perfect for our situation. There’s a reason that Subarus are ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest.


I was still a brat months later. This car didn’t feel like mine. Rick drove it a lot, so I had to adjust the seat all the time. I couldn’t remember how the windshield wipers worked. I would drive around with the sunroof open and all of the windows down and pretend it was a convertible. Friends would ask me how I liked my new car, and I acted like a brat, and I knew it. Yuck.


That VW Beetle convertible was in my life for 12 years. My previous car, I had for ten years before that, and at the time, I wasn’t ready to let go of it either. Rick was worried that it was getting older, and he didn’t want to deal with the things that could go wrong. I guess I like to find a car and keep it.


A car can become a part of your identity. Even though I was ready to move to the mountains, a part of me was not. I’m sure that  I was letting go of more than just a car. Perhaps I was holding on to the fun of a topless car and a younger time. Or the distinctive nature of that car. I may have also wanted to rebel against practicality. It could be that I was still attached to the idea of paved roads.


Sometime later, probably after driving over snowy passes multiple times, I realized how great my car was. It works like a champ in all of those situations that my convertible could not. When I’m driving over the pass, I feel confident. I get fantastic gas mileage, like 32+ miles to the gallon, on regular gasoline. I can fit my nieces and their car seats comfortably in the back seat. It’s so safe. I don’t have to baby it going up or down our road. This one was meant to live in the forest. (Get it? Forester…)


I’ve also planted the seed with Rick that maybe he could fix up an old Jeep Wrangler for me. It would be something fun to drive when I only have to go into town. It doesn’t even have to look pretty, as long as it can go topless. Then I can save the Subaru for trips when I have to go over the mountains.


Anyway, change can be hard sometimes. I wish that I hadn’t been such a brat about buying a new car. It’s funny the things that pop up when you aren’t expecting them and how long they can stick around. I know this was a first-world problem. This is just me, being human, on my journey, trying to figure it out, just like everybody else.

Subaru Forester

Photo credit – Jamie Gilman

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