Changing Horses in Midstream

At the beginning of my journey, my mom gave me her 1984 Peugeot 505S station wagon, which, with only 70,000 miles of use, and all of it by one owner on smooth Los Angeles streets and freeways, still has a lot of moxie. She and Ralph had the windows tinted dark for me, and had all the rubber parts replaced, including the tires, a big love gift. The car holds a lot of stuff and doesn't use much gasoline because it has a four cylinder engine. I love the color--ultramarine with sparkles.


However, after loading it with everything I need for eight months on the road as a one-woman, one-act musical comedy with costume department, stage props, booking agency, publicity department, and gift shop onboard, I found that the four cylinders could make the car go up a grade at about 35 miles per hour. I also do not have room for a passenger, especially when I have an extra box of t-shirts to transport. Outside of major urban areas, one rarely encounters a mechanic willing to repair a French car, even with prompting by cellphone from Rene, who knows this car cold. Parts are available by Fedex from a company in San Luis Obispo. I began to realize that, for crossing the Rockies and the Great Plains twice, this is not the right tool for the job.


So, Portland, the car-buying capitol of the West--no sales tax in Oregon, and the prices are supposedly pretty good. Not in time to get one through iMotors, an online used car-buying service that services its cars through any NAPA dealer nationwide (they need 3 to 4 weeks lead time), but soon enough to look through, and soon enough to list the Peugeot in the hip Willamette Week. Time slot: July 28 to August 2. Wish me luck.


At fifty-one, I've done plenty of buying and selling of used cars, but this is not my forte. Consequently, I network, and advice runs copiously, often in contradiction. One mechanic recommends the Chrysler vans as needing the fewest repairs; another states firmly that anything by Toyota beats anything made by anyone else. The Consumer Reports agree with the first one, but street wisdom says older Chrysler vans have transmission problems and need their engines rebuilt at 100,000 miles. History would put me in a VW van, of course. Painted with peace signs. I had one once on Maui. Still, I'm figuring on a late model Dodge Caravan or a Plymouth Voyager; during my years in the wedding business on Maui I owned one of each. They're gas hogs and take practice to park, but they're comfortable carrying a big load and a passenger, and they don't shirk on a hill. They should be easy to get repaired, but hopefully won't need much (mine didn't). I will miss Winnie-Their-Peugeot. She has soul...and seat heaters.