Family Matters

Family Matters

Travels With Blue: A Car with Heart Becomes a Soulmate

By William Cipriano

September/October 2009

When I was a kid, cars never interested me; I preferred to play with trains. As a young man, I procrastinated about getting a driver's license and never learned anything about how an automobile works. I've lived content in my ignorance ever since. I suppose in some way I'm carrying on a family legacy: my father, an ever-practical engineer, made it a point to drive something nondescript, like a Nash Rambler, a car that was good on gas and could be counted on to get from point A to point B reliably, nothing more.

So my love affair with my blue 1986 Volvo came as a complete surprise. I say love affair because I didn't just like my Volvo: I grew to feel at one with it. Whenever I sank into the ratty leather driver's seat, especially as I warmed it electrically on a cold winter's morning, a soft peace came over me. I even developed a Sunday ritual of starting the day, rain or shine, by tooling around town contently sipping a cup of coffee, overwhelmed with a sense of ease and well-being. Every morning, I couldn't wait to see the old Volvo in the driveway, and during the day at work, I even checked on it in the parking lot. Like a character out of some mindless Hollywood comedy, I often found myself talking to it, as if it were my most intimate companion.

It had 87,000 miles on it when it came to me, after my previous, much-neglected car, a respectable but uninspiring Ford Taurus, had dropped its transmission and was declared irreparable by the mechanic who'd worked…

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