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When you are staring at a crossroads

Those around me know I am a wagon guy at heart. Although I have never owned any of the classics, I have always tended to gravitate towards the size and presence of a wagon. They just seem to “fit” my personality and needs. I own a 2005 Dodge Magnum R/T and have had it since 2006. I wanted one the second I saw Dodge’s concept. I understand that these are not for everyone. You either dig them or see them as ugly hearses (which coincidentally is part of their charm for me). Since 2006 I have seen the odometer creep north of 150,000 miles. Even though I had an issue with the transmission (Dodge fixed free of charge) I haven’t had much to complain about over the past ten years. It has been a grocery getter, kid hauler, truck, trailer puller, muscle car, and all-around great vehicle.

Like all cars, there comes a time when the road starts to take its toll on them. The upkeep starts to go beyond the normal wear and tear, and like many of us, the aches and pains seem to multiply daily. Seeing I have a soft spot in my heart for this Hemi-powered grocery getter, I have made it a point to stay one step ahead of old father time. I have fixed all the small maladies as they arose. Reluctantly, I realized that I would eventually have to allow the work-horse to step down.

As the rear gears started to whine and the ball joints gave up the ghost, it was apparent that the old Magnum was ready to be relinquished to backup vehicle status. I purchased a Charger to take on the daily driving chores.

I had kicked around the idea of freshening her up in the future and letting my kids use it as the second car. Or maybe I would restore it seeing it was only made for three years and might be a collector someday. I figured I had a few years to make up my mind on what to do with the wagon.

This past weekend I was away with my kids at a basketball tournament in Chicago. When I opened the garage door I was horrified to see a pile of tires and car parts slammed up against the front fender of the Magnum. I had made a tire rack about two years ago for my winter tires and have never once had a problem with it. I guess two years was all that the rack had in it and decided to pull itself apart. It was just one of those instances where you scratch your head and chalk it up to cosmic forces. After pulling the tires away, I was greeted with a mangled and creased front fender. I was not pleased, but all things considered, it was better than having the rear quarter trashed. It was only a front fender and can be fixed relatively easily.

The beat up fender has now forced me to confront the truth about my car that was now parked at a crossroads. Do I stick more time, effort, and funds into it? Do I let it display its war wounds and let it fade into oblivion as my kids drive it until the wheels fall off making it a full-fledged beater destined for the bone yard? These are age-old questions that car owners have been faced with since the first cars hit the road and became long-in-the-tooth.

Owners of countless millions of cars have faced this quandary and eventually decided the cars were not worth it. It is funny how we rarely realize how much we loved our cars until they are gone. All things wear out and need to be replaced; cars are no exception. How many of us wish we still had a car from our youth? I would wager that at the time the sentimental attachment was overshadowed by the financial reality of maintaining a failing vehicle.

Although a 2005 Magnum isn’t yet a “collector” it still deserves respect for what it has given me throughout the years. With a family, commitments, and bills it is tough to stand by your car and do it justice.

I will probably get a new fender and bolt it on and let it bother me for a month or two before I decide to dust off the paint gun and finish the job.

Even though it is only a car, it reminds us of places we have gone and people we have known, and in some ways, helped us set our direction where we are going. To me this is the allure of cars. Aside from the aesthetics, I am sure most of us associate cars with a favorable feeling or memory. The worth of a car is based on an individual’s attachment to it. To each their own! Just remember that for every ’57 Chevy there is a newer Honda Civic that has a history with its owner.

Even though newer cars are often dismissed as “soulless” they will become the new collector cars of our hobby. Perhaps we should take an extra moment to weigh our options before scrapping that early 2000’s Grand Prix. Even if they don’t mean much to you, they might mean the world to someone else.

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