I bought my last 'new' car in 1992 when I had a sudden need to go from my 5-speed Subaru sedan to anything that I could drive with one arm. A 15-year old new mother was mad at her boyfriend, so took her Dad's Olds Delta 88 to go yell at him in person. Of course, she was unlicensed and unskilled. We had no warning when she pulled out in front of us. We were going the speed limit, 50 MPH. I was really lucky.
Only a few seconds before I had almost undone my seat belt to get something out of the back seat. That Still-small Voice told me I could reach it with my seat belt on. I heard it very clearly. My hand was on the little metal flap when I heard "No, you can reach it from here." I had learned over the previous couple of years to listen to that voice. I believe it literally saved my life that day, but I did not escape unscathed.
My left arm was wedged behind the driver's seat, which was kind of like being put in the medieval rack, but with a twist and some back-and-forth waves. Some of the energy was absorbed in my lumbar spine and the discs were/are pretty screwed up. The rest was dissipated in my left shoulder and humerus bone, which had major damage and a spiral fracture. Luckily, the nerves were so damaged that it took about 24 hours for the incredible pain to set in. When I hear people mention 'fainting from the pain,' I came to understand how that could happen. I lost the use of my left arm for about 6 months. I was single and had a job. The MD failed to tell me at the time that I needed to take a couple of months off, so I was back to work in a week. Drive to work, take half a percocet, stay at work until it wears off enough to drive, repeat. Dumb.
So I never bought the Saab I was saving for. Instead I bought a Ford Tempo. It was OK, except the early 1990's Ford Tempos and Tauruses had a major problem with the AC, which seemed to fail just as the warranties expired. That was 2 second-hand Honda Accords ago. (The one I was driving to work was 12 years old but had just under 60,000 miles. Lots of life left in that boring old car so Dear Husband is now using it as his work commute car, replacing his 1991 Honda Accord with > 125,000 miles.)
So I decided that part of what I have saved for during my working life is a car I want and would enjoy during this early fun part of my retirement. I wanted to keep the expense down, have some SUV-like features, and have lots of room for taking stuff with me on trips. I narrowed my choices down and decided on a new Toyota RAV4. At the local dealer they had a year old trade-in with 7000 miles. Car fax said they weren't trying to pawn off a totaled mess, so I went for it. The trade off was getting some features I didn't need (moon roof!), but it was also about $6K less than the new one, so close enough.
This car is such a hoot! I love that it has a place for my stuff (Yes, George Carlin was an early influence) that is out of sight until I need it. It has a cool instantaneous MPG calculator to help optimize your driving. It has a CD player!!! If I get serious about going to see my friends in Montana, I can load it with stuff and still drop one side of the back seat and have enough room to sleep in the back! Oh, it also drives comfortably and gets about 25 MPG overall, thus far. That's as close as Thunder Chicken, Queen of the Shedder tribe, is getting. Step away from the vehicle....
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