car-backWarning: This is likely to be the most car-loving post ever on STB.

Saturday, I say goodbye to what was once my favorite possession: a 1999 Mustang Convertible. It will not be replaced.

The clock started ticking when we moved to Columbia City, where bus service is already pretty good, from cul-de-sac hell. With Link about to arrive, bringing 20 hours a day of frequent service, it was clear that there was little or no reason to maintain a second car. Even before the train, having both cars out of the garage is exceedingly rare, although that’s partly because I’m a transit zealot.

Although the memories I’ve had with this car will be cherished, I’m not going to miss the $100+ a month in insurance and other costs (with no car payment, assuming no driving, and neglecting depreciation), as well as the space it took up in the garage.

A lot of the discussion about taking cars off the streets gets bogged down on the point that the Seattle region is far from fully accessible without at least occasional access to an automobile. And that’s true. On the other hand, there is huge potential to improve the options and economic situation of many two (or more) car families given good transit, bike, and walkability options.

Martin’s old car goes up for auction 9 am, Saturday, June 13, at 18226 68th Ave NE in Kenmore.

21 Replies to “Farewell, Old Friend”

  1. When I first read the post, I thought your family was going completely carless, and I thought that was very brave and admirable, but upon a closer reading, you’re just selling your second car?

    1. Sam,

      That’s my point. There’s nothing really admirable here; it’s purely logical in my current situation. Through good policy, we can make it easy for people to make the more socially constructive choice while they’re acting purely in self-interest.

    1. I beg to differ. A convertible is a great way to take advantage of sunny days while otherwise busy.

      Plus, I have a garage.

    2. Actually, if you keep moving,the rain won’t come in the car. Stoplights suck.

      I had a 63 Valiant and stopped caring about the interior around 1978. For various reasons it was easier to lower the top than fasten it shut (real Detroit quality there!) and, living on Lake Union, never more than two or three miles from where I wanted to go, I just dropped the top and headed out in any weather.

      Not sure if the computers needed by modern drivers would put up with that, though….

  2. We’ll know we’ve arrived when you can take a bus or train to the trailhead. I lost a lot of enthusiasm for hiking when vandalizing the hiker’s cars became a popular sport for the rural morons. Before the days of the cellphone, finding your tires slashed meant a twenty-mile hike to a phone. Even today, who needs it? People don’t slash your tires when you go out in a sailboat.

    Before the days of the automobile, railroads ran “Wildflower Specials”- day tripper trains that ran up in the mountains and pulled on to a siding so the passengers could take a walk, pick wildflowers, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then return to town.

    Hopefully I’m way behind the curve here and local companies or clubs already sponsor bus trips for day hikes. But how cool would it be if you could take a bus to Mount Baker, hike the Cascade Crest Trail to Mount Rainier, and take another bus home?

    Well, a guy can dream….

    1. It’s not entirely impossible to use buses to go hiking; it’s just inconvenient. I’ve seen a few guides to hiking by bus over the years, but here’s the one I just found thanks to Google.

      I’ve never actually tried it myself but I like the idea in principle.

  3. Way to go, Martin!

    I applaud you for selling your trusty steed, especially given that it was your other car is not likely to be as fun to drive. I also recognize that although we all love transit and living in walkable communities (I live in Capitol Hill and walk downtown to work), it is tough for a family to not have a car for various weekend trips & chores. By the way, our large parking spot owner recently told us that we cannot do tandem parking with two cars, so I will also be selling the car I have loved since high school. Like yourself, we really only used one car anyway.

  4. If there is requirement on a day that you need a second car, there are the share car companies which let you have the use a car for just that purpose. Not renting, but sharing a car in your neighbourhood.

    Don’t know what kind of first car you have, but you may want to consider is to attach a hitch to your car. Then, if needed, get a trailer (they now come collapsible) for hauling your big screen television you can now get with the money you save. In Europe, a lot of the small cars have hitches just for that once in awhile purpose.

    1. “If there is requirement on a day that you need a second car, there are the share car companies which let you have the use a car for just that purpose. Not renting, but sharing a car in your neighbourhood.”

      Would be nice, but Zipcar removed the cars from our neighborhood a few months ago. It would be nice if the Zipcars were a bit more accessible than they are.

  5. Just curious, why an auction? I’ve never sold a car that way. What’s the advantage over newspapers or CL?

    1. Less trouble and immediate access to a large pool bidders, but mainly less trouble.

      I also know some of the staff there pretty well.

  6. How long have you had it? I still drive my college car. I find it’s hard to be emotional ready to upgrade my car. …so much memory with the old car.

    1. I bought it, 1 year old, in 2000. It’s been with me through 2 jobs, a stint in grad school, an entire courtship and marriage, and a war.

  7. Here’s a reason why you should have two cars (and, of course, I realize this does not apply to everyone). Assuming that it is indeed quite difficult to live in Seattle without at least one car, there are situations that arise in which having two cars may be MORE economical both environmentally and fiscally.

    My wife and I have a toyota corolla that we use as our primary car; however, we occasionally have a need for a larger vehicle (which is a full-cab pick-up). If we were to get rid of one of our cars, we would have to get rid of the fuel-sipping toyota and spend the bulk of our time driving around in the guzzler. Right now, we take our truck out about twice per month and we fill the tank up about once every six weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of fuel I’d be using up if I had to use only the truck.

    A friend of mine has a similar situation: he has a mini-cooper and a honda minivan. The minivan is used sparingly (like when it’s his turn at the carpool) but for most of his driving needs — when the only passengers are his wife and child — he takes out the mini-cooper. If he had keep only one car it would have to be the far less fuel efficient vehicle.

    1. It cost’s $20/day for a pick-up or cargo van from U-haul. Is it really less than $40/month in insurance and maintenance to keep the truck?

  8. $20/day is the starting fee. Once you take into consideration tax, charge per mile, and other various surcharges, it’s closer to about $75/day. That’s assuming, of course, the truck is available to rent (which on summer weekends is not always a sure thing).

    1. True, you’d run a bill of $75 for 55 miles which isn’t a great distance but if you’re chore is back and forth to Home Dopey it’s probably a lot less. But 10 years of payments on $20,000 at 3.5% is $200 a month. Maintenance on a off warantte vehicle can be thousands out of the blue. Just regular tune-ups, tires, etc are going to run at least a couple hundred a year even if you only drive 1,800 miles.

  9. One way to ease the downgrade from 2 cars to 1 car is to “cheat” and downgrade from 2 cars to 1 car and a vespa/scooter. It’s more fun that way and both can usually fit together in your one car garage =)

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