Monday, July 13, 2009
I rolled the odometer on my Karmann Ghia again. Second time. When we bought the car in 1998, it had something like 83,500 miles on an engine that had been rebuilt in 1995.
Driving up to Junipine, up in Oak Creek Canyon every day, we quickly surpassed the 99,999 mark sometime in 1999. That was the first time we flipped the digits. The second time, took 10 years to reach. Since 2002 I've had the luxury of riding my bike to work, so the Ghia has been retired from commuter duty. It's a strictly 'round town girl now. Or the occasional random road trip.
Yesterday, while driving home from Jerome, coming into Clarkdale I watched it roll, from 99,999 to 00000. Fresh. Starting new. Now it sits in the driveway wearing a necklace of zeros like a brand new car, fresh out of Wolfsburg, West Germany, in the spring of 36 years ago.
Oh! My 1973 Karmann Ghia, how do I love you? Let me count the ways.
We had our rough patches over the years. Sure. Like any relationship we've had our arguments. That tricky electrical thing you used to do that gave me fits. Ugh. The constant carburetor adjustments that I could never quite figure out. The random difficulties and confusion, and the rare but occasional ride on a tow truck. Overall, though, it's been a breeze. In recent years it has been like the love between two old timers, long married. Easy, and smooth like a favorite shoe. The seat and the controls all worn in to my specifications. I recognize the little burps and hiccups meaning it's time to change the gas filter, the funny front end in need of grease when it feels somehow different. The sounds of the chirp as I drive close along walls or canyon cliffs. (It was that crickety chirp sound that made me first fall in love with you).
The trips we took together- the roads we've traveled. California, Mexico, Chicago, Nevada, and all over our Arizona.
All of us packed tight into that small cramped sardine can of a car. Cruising the highways, sleek and aerodynamic, turning heads like Hollywood.
I know it may not go on forever this way. My VW pals will raise an eyebrow wondering how we could have put on this many miles on without burning oil, without a valve job, without a top-end rebuild. "This won't last," they'll say to each other.
The trick I think is the straight weight oil-- 30 weight in winter, and 40 weight in summer. Changed regularly by me, with my own hand, every 2,500 miles or less without fail. The trick is my deep sump which allows me to hold 2 more quarts of oil than a regular Volkswagen. The trick is my bolt-on oil filter which most VWs do not have. The trick is always using premium gas, the highest octane. 91 if possible. And the trick is that me and the bad mamma jamma share a vodoo kinda love, a connection that keeps both of us ebullient and evenly firing, even with all of the dings and scratches of life compounding year after year.
My Karmann Ghia runs on true love.