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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on November 22nd, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 37 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 37

Mustang madness

Can Krider afford his son's first car?

BY ROB KRIDER

My son’s birthday is quickly approaching. It will be his sweet 16. I decided, based on his gender, to forgo throwing him an extravagant birthday party with musical guests Usher and Justin Bieber. Instead, I figured I would just buy him a car. I’m not buying him a car to spoil him. I am buying him a car to spoil myself. I’m tired of driving his butt all over town to stuff. He can do it on his own soon (and take his little sister, too). When he has some wheels, I can use him as my personal errand boy, because some things in life are difficult to achieve while sitting on the couch. Case in point: Chipotle doesn’t deliver.

My son and I have spent the last year of his life discussing the perfect car for a 16-year-old boy. His first choice was a Ferrari. Not going to happen. I don’t think we could even afford the air in the tires of a Ferrari. My son also had some quirky car choices; he said he would settle for a PT Cruiser. PT Loser? Really? Not my son. We have a motorsports reputation to uphold.

After strategically placing issues of Hot Rod magazine in his bedroom and behind the toilet (where the real reading gets done), he finally decided he wanted a muscle car. I was pleased. Every 16-year-old boy should have the chance to own an overpowered, gas guzzling, noisy, poor handling vehicle to drive to high school in. It is a rite of passage. Very American, since you get two choices: Camaro or Mustang. We love our polarizing choices here in America: Republican or Democrat, Coke or Pepsi, Edward or Jacob, Home Depot or Lowes, Wal Mart or … I don’t know.

I grew up in a deeply religious household. Some people are Baptist; my family was Chevrolet. We had numerous Camaros, Corvettes, Chevelles, and even an El Camino (the “mullet” of transportation—business in the front, party in the back). If it didn’t have a 350-cubic-inch Chevy small block for an engine, it didn’t park in our driveway. If anyone even thought about parking a Ford product next to the curb in front of our house, my dad would have it towed away. So, what was the first car I bought as soon as I got away from Mommy and Daddy? A Ford Mustang, of course. And to be an even bigger pain in my father’s ass, I modified the car and made sure it was faster than his own Corvette. After that, I wasn’t invited to Thanksgiving anymore.

Once I told my son about the time his old man took a Mustang and beat Grandpa’s Corvette at the drag strip, he decided he wanted a Mustang. Now I’m not a total moron; there was no way I was going to put my son in a car as fast as a Mustang GT. Those cars have way too much horsepower, and with great horsepower comes great responsibility—something 16-year-old boys don’t possess. Mustang GTs, with their V8 engines, were not an option. Instead, we started looking for a lesser-powered V6 model, the girl’s model, since it was going to be for my son’s sweet 16.

We test drove a few and hadn’t quite found a good one at the right price. Even though I wasn’t satisfied, my son loved every single Mustang that he saw.

“I’ll take it; I’ll take it,” is all he would say.

“Son, this one has been in an accident and it won’t start.”

“I like the color; I’ll take it.”

My son was too eager in front of the sellers for me to catch a bargain, so finally I devised some baseball signals where he would touch his nose if he didn’t like the car, or he would pull on his ear if he did like the car. The only problem was my son had some nervous twitches, and I realized after two minutes at a car dealership that he touches his nose and pulls on his ears constantly, which completely confused me as I was trying to haggle on a price. He had me so confused we darn near bought him a Pontiac Aztek.

We test drove one Mustang for a total of about 100 yards. We found a seller on Craigslist who met us at a grocery store parking lot. The seller handed me the keys and said, “I don’t need to go with you; go enjoy the test drive.” Big mistake. My unsupervised test drives are more like qualifying sessions for Formula One. Run a car hard at the onset and see if it holds together. This one didn’t. I jumped on the gas, rowed through the gears, and blew the car up. I made a quick U-turn, and limped the car back to the parking lot with the engine leaking green coolant all over the road. I gave the keys back to the seller and said, “Thanks, but we aren’t interested.”

My son thought it was an uncool move—to hurt someone’s car and then just give it back to him. I actually thought it was the coolest test drive I had ever been on. But Karma, that moody lady, paid me back big time. We finally decided on a Mustang, bought it, and everything was good. One week later, while I was driving it, with my wife in the passenger seat, I jumped on the gas and the exact engine failure occurred again, spilling coolant all over the ground. My wife, whom I love, began to chastise me: “You blew up your son’s car before he’s even old enough to drive it!” She really railed at me for everything: driving irresponsibly, being a bad dad, global warming.

Once I got the car home, and after looking under the hood, I called my dad for some mechanical advice. He only had this to say, “I know what the problem is. It’s written right on the front of the car: It’s a FORD!” ∆

 

Rob is still under the hood of his son’s new-used Mustang, cursing and bleeding from the knuckles.