My trusty 1996 Nissan van just hit 190,000 miles, and my wife and I decided it might be time to start looking for a replacement. We both feel strongly that we have more bargaining power at car-buying time if our trade-in still runs — and if none of the visible pieces are tied on with rope. So we went to see our favorite car dealer, Big-Hearted Eddie. That is his legal name, incidentally. His birth certificate is framed and hanging on the showroom wall, bordered on one side by the first dollar he ever made and on the other side by a rendition of Dale Earnhardt ascending to the Big Race Track in the Sky. Eddie’s sign out front says he is a purveyor of fine automobiles, and you can’t say that unless it’s true. He does not sell pre-owned cars, by the way. All of Eddie’s vehicles are “semi-new.” The reason I enjoy doing business with Eddie is because every car comes with a story. You are not just buying a vehicle; you are investing in a slice of history. Also, he offers free towing for the first week after the sale, which has come in handy in the past. “What can you tell me about this car?” I ask, kicking the tires on a Ford sedan. “Best car on the lot,” Eddie replies, shaking his head in amazement at my ability to judge car flesh. “I was saving it to give to my own mother for her birthday.” He opens the door and shows me the interior. “It’s pretty clean,” I observe. “Clean? Are you kidding me? This car was once owned by a Bible salesman!” He leads me to the back and opens the trunk. Sure enough, there are two Bibles in there. “He never went out on rainy days, and he only drove it uphill when the wind was at his back.” Eddie next leads us to a Cadillac with very low mileage. “This one was owned by an old maid schoolteacher who only drove it to church on Sundays and Wednesdays — oh, and once every four years to the courthouse to vote.” “I wasn’t really looking for a luxury car,” I tell Eddie. “It has never been smoked in,” he offers. “It has been on fire, though,” my wife notes, looking under the trunk lid. We keep moving. Eddie escorts us to a sportier model, a little two-door Chrysler coupe with a velour top. There are flames painted on the hood and along the front fenders, and it has 22-inch wheels with spinners made out of old Skilsaw blades. Painted across the top of the front windshield are the words DEATHMOBILE 2010. “When’s the last time you saw a custom top like that?” Eddie asks. “I don’t think I ever have,” I reply truthfully. “Look, Dear,” I say to my wife. “It has novelty bullet-hole decals on the back windshield.” We try Eddie’s Budget Lot next because Eddie says he has a couple of creampuffs over there he wants us to see. One of them appears to have the front end of a Pontiac and the rear end of a Buick. The car is green, but one of the doors is red, and the words Norfolk Southern are sort of imprinted into the sheet metal of the right rear quarter panel. “She’s knee-deep in rubber, and that air-conditioner will throw snowballs at you,” Eddie says. “Has this car been hit by a freight train?” my wife asks. “It may have been nudged by a slow one,” Eddie allows. The final car Eddie shows us really has some potential. It is a nice little Toyota compact with good tires and no blemishes in the paint. It has decent miles and new wiper blades. The horn blows, and the lights all light. “I think we can do some business on this one,” I say to Eddie. Then I notice the rusty Louisiana license plate and the “I Survived Hurricane Katrina” bumper sticker. “I’ll throw in some floor mats and an ice scraper,” Eddie offers helpfully, but my wife is already leading me away. I think I’ll just buy some new floor mats and an ice scraper for the old Nissan — and maybe quit driving into the wind.
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://bluetoad.com/article/So+It+Goes/312511/30975/article.html.