Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1988 Chevrolet Cavalier Wagon

The Really Important Stuff
Engine 2.0 L I4
Transmission 3-Speed Automatic
Power 90 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque 108 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
Fuel Economy City/Highway 22/29
Curb Weight 2414 lbs
Base Price When New $8,860
Market Value (Excellent Condition, 100K miles) $1,633

“Robert” was a 1988 Cavalier wagon that my family acquired when I was 3 years old.  According to my parents, I gave him that name myself.  It figures then that I have always felt a strong connection to this car.  We were born in the same year, and we grew up together.  Robert was a part of many of the formative experiences of my life.  My family drove Robert across the country from East to West when we moved to Oregon from Virginia, and I experienced my first foray into a foreign country (Canada) from his back seat.
When I got my driver’s license at 19, I finally had the chance to drive the car that had meant so much to me during my childhood.  By then, Robert was beginning to show his age.  But I saw him through rose-colored glasses.  Instead of being frustrated by the slow response of the pedals, I loved how it made the car accelerate and brake so smoothly.  You just couldn’t rush the car to do anything, which made for a laid-back driving experience.  The steering was loose and off-center, but I appreciated how light the wheel felt in my hands.

Robert soon became a symbol of my independence.  My parents let me drive him wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as I told them where I was going.  Driving Robert to work during the first summer after college only strengthened our bond.  Every moment we spent together taught me new lessons in car control.  I found the limits of his lateral grip and braking force (which didn’t take much effort to reach).  I practiced braking so smoothly that I couldn’t feel the car rock back as I came to a halt.  I learned to parallel park and back into parking spaces—Robert was the perfect car for this because of his big square windows and thin pillars.

When he finally died of a clogged exhaust system last year, I was sad to see him go.  But he left me with a valuable gift—a passion for driving that has stuck with me my whole life.

  • Cheap to insure
  • Great visibility
  • Love is blind

  • Unresponsive throttle and brake
  • Numb, loose steering
  • Only one working speaker
  • Windshield wipers turned on when using the turn signals
  • Loud but weak engine

The Bottom Line:  It was the cornerstone of my passion for driving.

No comments:

Post a Comment