Nice Car, what’s its name?
I used to think that people who named their cars were kinda crazy. Cars, after all, are inanimate hunks of metal, steal, plastic, and rubber molded together to provide a rather utilitarian service. That was, of course, until I met Bessie my freshman year of college. Bessie was a 1960’s era red and white pick-up truck. It was the kind of vehicle you’d typically either see in a movie set in that decade or reinvented as a hotrod cruising some small town square. But what transformed this simple truck into ‘Ole Bess’ was the truly transplant-like nature of her presence on a college campus in the (very) early 90’s. She was no rusty heap, nor was she some rednecked hotrod. She was simply an old truck in modern times. It was as if a farm boy left home one spring morning in 1964 and pulled into the dorm parking lot in the fall of 1989 – just one long drive rather than 25 elapsed years. Bessie was distinctive in such a way that the nickname was too obvious to ignore. If you told a stranger to meet you at 3:00 in the parking lot at Bessie, they’d be able to figure it out without a hitch.
This experience taught me that cars can have names without the owner being delusional so long as the car has ample personality and the name is not contrived. The car worthy of naming does not have to be old but few new cars will have earned the privilege of being called by something other than their branded moniker.
A popular class of such nicknamed conveyances – at least in my mind – is what I like to call the classic Get-Out-of-Debt car. This is the paid-for ride that offers few amenities and a low curb appeal but that never carries a payment. In fact, that’s a rule in the car naming game. You simply cannot name a car that your local bank, credit union, or car lot actually still owns. And a leased car does more to brand its driver than it does itself.
No, the Get-Out-of-Debt car is like a badge of honor. A broke-minded person may drive a similar car and feel less-than when parked at the gas pump next to Tank McPerfect in his new BMW M-Series but the cash conscience will proudly fuel their paid for hoop-de with the knowledge that he or she is making sacrifices in the now to pave the way for a brighter tomorrow. They may also smirk with the knowledge that Mr. McPerfect’s car probably came with a trunk full of payment books.
That is why my wife and I so proudly drive what we have affectionately named the “Green Bean”. The Green Bean is a bright green (of course) 1997 Subaru Outback station wagon with over 103,000 miles on the odometer and a hideously hued green, red, and grey interior. While it is not exceptionally old it does have enough flaws to land it squarely in the hoop-de category. Most notably are the oil leak that causes it to smoke after a few miles on the highway, the dangerously dim headlights, failing air conditioner, and soon to fail water pump – and there is always the time an electrical problem left us stranded on the side of the interstate.
But the Green Bean is our Green Bean and it is as functional a car as I have ever driven. Not only can I pack the entire set up for a 12 person tail-gate in the back, it handles like a dream, and counter-intuitively it loves to go fast – really, the car runs much smoother on the highway at 85mph than it does at 65mph.
Sure, one day we hope to move up to a newer sleek and soul-less luxury automobile, but for now we’re content with the functionality, practicality, and cash-based reality of our smoky little green bean.
And all this for exactly $0 per month – other than gas and oil!
So what do you drive? Do you drive named beater than is helping you get out of debt, or has your quest for curb appeal relieved you of a portion of your monthly budget? Share your car ‘status’ below.
Photo By: Dave