Bye-Bye Jalopy, Hello Mystique

They said Toyota trucks last forever, and they were wrong. Following a rough couple of years, my poor little black truck decided to finally go tits-up for good last week. It lived through nearly twenty Idaho winters and hundreds of thousands of miles of road. I inherited the beast seven years ago from my dad who had driven it back and forth to work in Spokane every day for it's entire existence. It was a little rough around the edges, but being a Toyota, it still held quite a bit of oomph and I vary rarely had any issues with it. I think Lou has some kind of curse with vehicles because once he gets behind the wheel of an auto, it starts a slow and tragic downward spiral. He has a long, bizarre history of running cars to death. He drove my truck like a four year old plays with a Matchbox car, and it began showing signs of exhaustion. It really never was the same since the winter before last, when he managed to smash up the left front end in a snowy collision two blocks from home. That wreck must have knocked something loose deep inside my truck's soul and it's been on the slide ever since. On Monday, after a final examination at Cook's Automotive ("She's just plum wore out..."), the white sheet was pulled up over it's windshield, so to speak. The death of a long-suffering loved one is often accompanied by relief. I was finally free of it's burden and I could start exploring new vehicular possibilities. The timing was perfect, actually: since graduation is a little over a week away, my dad decided to gift me the down payment on a new car for my graduation present. I did just get my tax return back, and I was planning on spending that money, but with his help I was able to look at cars from this decade, rather than $600 beaters that barely run. Since I had to work every day this week, I put my dad in charge of doing some shopping around. I couldn't be too picky, but I did have to lay out a few basic guidelines: no granny cars, except maybe vintage Cadillacs (they're like living rooms on wheels.) Must have cassette deck or working cigarette lighter (so I can connect my iPod - I don't think you can connect one through a CD player.) Must have working AC (why bother otherwise?) Earthy or subtle tones, no bright reds or neon greens. Preferably a black or cream colored interior. He picked me up after work to go to The Car Lot way way north on US95. A new place with a clever name, eh? He had found a cream colored Mazda Miata within our price range. Question: why are all car dealers so very car dealery? Mike had a big gray bird's nest mustache and a red boozy nose under drowsy eyes. We piled in the car for a test drive and one block out of the gate I looked in the rear view mirror to see an enormous cloud of stank exhaust rolling out behind us. We returned to the lot and the shop mechanic laughed and said "blown head gasket." I wasn't in love with the car anyway - it had a bad dog hair ambiance, a non-functioning CD Player and a little dashboard drawer that wouldn't click into place. Next! We milled around the lot looking for better options. Mike returned to let us know that the owner of the dealership felt "so embarrassed" about the exploding Mazda fiasco that he was willing to knock two particular cars down by $1500. One was a mid-80's model dark grey Mercedes, which the idea was tempting until I looked at the destroyed interior. The other car was a light gold 2000 Mercury Mystique (as pictured above). It must have been owned by someone who never smoked, farted, or drove through Del Taco once: it still had that alluring new car aroma. The upholstery and dashboard looked shiny new and untouched. We hopped in and as I drove us north on 95, I fiddled with the stereo and AC, both worked! The ride was soft and quiet, the brakes were like nothing I'd ever experienced, so smooth and buttery. Yes, buttery brakes. The price was right and I was sold. We filled out paperwork and hung out in the lobby for what seemed like an eternity for the big credit approval phone call to happen. Turns out the finance manager was Jimmy, an old co-worker of mine from Coldwater Creek. As we waited, we listened to Mike the Car Dealer tell us about how he worked his entire life selling RV's in nearly every town in the Great Northwest...Everett....Bend...Pasco...Lewiston... you name it, he'd lived and worked in 'em all, but Coeur d'Alene was the tops, the best place he'd ever lived. When he started pulling out pictures of the grandkids, I began tuning him out as I texted away on my cell phone telling everyone about the new wheels. Finally, Jimmy returned with our approval and after settling on a payment plan I could realistically stick with (let's hope), the deal was done. Searching the web today for more info about the Mercury Mystique I learned that it is the exact same thing as a Ford Mondeo, which was that company's stab at creating a specifically European car for the European market. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I like the sound of it. The Mondeo was a big seller across the pond, and the Mystique is the same car, just marketed under a different name in America. Oh la la. The main bitch I read in the user reviews was about the extreme lack of legroom in the back, but it's rare that I'll ever have people back there, and as long as there's enough room to create a random pile of clothing, magazines, and tapes then I'm happy. Otherwise, online reviews were quite favorable and people love their Mystiques. And so do I. It's the first car I've ever owned that's less than 10 years old: I feel like I'm moving on up to the East Side, I finally got a piece of the pie. The dealer wanted to keep the car another night to fine tune some details, so I am anxiously awaiting the end of my work day so I can go get it. I'll have just enough time to pick a lovely sunset to drive off into...

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There's a rather juvenile roadtrip distraction that entails adding the word "anal" to the front of every car make, just to see if it's funny. It works better with some (Probe) than others (Sonata).

You, my friend, have Anal Mystique.
Congrats on the new car. I will miss the truck. Everytime I see a truck like it around town, I look to see if it is you!

The Car Lot has been around a long time. I bought a van there in '00 and then my current one last year. The last one is a 2000 so I completely know that "moving on up" feeling. It's awesome to have one from the current century!
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