As it turns out, older cars — and we do, after all, tend to name our cars after women, or at least I do — may have the same sort of pull on us as does the woman of a certain age:
I’ve been married to my [Citroën] SM for nearly eight years, with an initial purchase price of $20,000. She had 52,000 miles. I’ve spent approximately $8,000 on maintenance, and $14,000 on an engine rebuild. She runs perfectly. So, for $42,000, with approximately $1,000 per year for maintenance, I have finally found the perfect long-term relationship with a gorgeous French woman. A woman about whom I know virtually everything necessary to keep her happy, who is always ready to go to dinner or on vacation. OK, maybe not always, and maybe not far, but such relationships aren’t supposed to be easy, and long-term relationships less so.
If fourteen grand sounds high for an engine rebuild, well, this engine comes from Maserati, with whom Citroën was in a marriage of inconvenience when the SM was developed. So the elegant French lady has more than a trace of Italian fire, and already I’m thinking, um, fairly suggestive thoughts.
That said, Gwendolyn, my Japanese ice princess, cost me $12,400 nine years ago. She had 88,000 miles. I’ve spent about $12,000 on maintenance and repairs. So for a hair less than $25,000, I have a worthy travel companion, albeit one who never, ever shows her feelings. The respect is there, but nothing beyond that. Still, were I to draw up a map for a nice long 4,000-mile road trip, I’d have no qualms, no worries about something horrible happening along the way.
I’m happy, and so is she. True love is out there, waiting, from Alfa, Porsche, Tatra and dozens of other parents whose older models are still waiting to meet the right person, but the hour is drawing near.
At this stage of my development, I question my ability to sustain my end of the commitment.
And there’s this observation from Jack Baruth: “For the record, dating a flesh and blood woman older than yourself is a fate worse than death.” At 40ish, he can say that. At 60ish, I can’t. (The Citroën SM is in its middle forties.)