Drive, baby, drive

This is going to sound like a commercial.

It’s not.

No, this is a love story between a woman and her Subaru. And just like any love story, this driver had to drive a lot of toads before she found her prince.

I’ve had a long relationship with cars — most of them bad.

It began in 1973, before I even had a driver’s license. My dad decided my sister Peggy and I would buy a car together because she needed one for college. She couldn’t afford it on her own and dad knew I’d been saving babysitting money. So he ordered me to hand it over so Peggy would have wheels. She would drive it for two years, then pass it down to me. But I had to pay half the bills while she was driving it and I never got to drive it in that two years. And when it came down to me, there was nobody to share in the bill paying.

Bad deal, bad car. That Ford Fairlane was a dud. When I finally did get the car, it conked out every time it rained or misted because the distributor cap cracked. I was better off on my 1973 Columbia Tourister. The chain never came off and I was a pretty fast bike rider back in the day.

Next was the Bronze Bomber. It might have been a Thunderbird. I was never a car expert and in those days was just looking for something to get me from here to there. My dad paid $300 for it the day I learned I was hired at the La Crosse Tribune and then made me promise not to tell my siblings he had done that because he couldn’t afford to do it for everyone. The trunk was so big I got a kitchen table, sewing machine, the Columbia Tourister, and some suitcases in it. But it was terrible to park and it had a hole in the gas tank.

Next up was the Dodge Dart. It stalled at intersections and was put out of my misery 11 months after I bought it when a drunk driver crashed into it and totaled it.

I thought my Prince came along with my next car, a 1977 Ford Mustang. But it leaked oil and I had to add a can every time I filled the gas tank.

My first brand new car was a Mazda hatchback. It was pretty good but we just never had that certain spark between us.

I graduated to a Tracker in 1985 and had a lot of fun with it until I rolled it on an icy interstate on the way to my dad’s funeral. That’s when the voice of reason sounded loud and clear in my head and I decided my next car was going to be very safe.

And that’s when I met my 1996 Subaru Impreza Outback. It was love at the first tap of the anti-lock brakes as the salesman demonstrated its safety on the snowy roads in Pettibone Park. And then I discovered the joys of all-wheel drive on Wisconsin’s winter roads and that sealed the deal. It was great for hauling auction finds and it had the bonus of a roof rack.

I was in love and everyone knew it. When I met other Subaru drivers at the gas pumps, we would gush about our love affair with our vehicles.

All was well until 2008 when the transmission began to slip on the Subaru. I knew I was going to have to replace it and I started thinking about a small, fuel-efficient car. That meant no more gas-guzzling all-wheel drive and I decided to switch to a Toyota Yaris.

But we never clicked as a couple. It didn’t hold as many auction finds as the Subaru, it didn’t have all-wheel drive, it didn’t have a roof rack and it didn’t have my heart. I lasted in that car for seven years. But every time a Subaru passed us, I would sigh, and yearn for what I once had.

“Its like I had a really great boyfriend and I just tossed him aside,” I told my sister. And no other boyfriend could compare.

So, in April, after my brother-in-law did some scouting online, I walked into Dahl, took a test drive in a Subaru Impreza wagon, and agreed to buy it that day. We’ve been tooling down the road together ever since and I couldn’t be happier.

Once again, I have all-wheel drive. Once again I have a roof rack. Once again I can go to a farm auction, park in a field, and know I can drive out of it without getting stuck.

If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

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