QotW: What’s your saddest story of saying goodbye to a car?

Today, August 14, is Japan’s official End-of-Life Vehicle Recycling Day. This is because the numbers 8-1-4 can be read ha-i-sha, or “scrapped car”. While Japan is pretty good about recycling disused cars, they’re probably a bit more trigger-happy when it comes to disposing of cars in the first place, compared to the US. In any case, everyone’s got an automotive sob story about a car which met its demise, whether too early or at the right time but in a still painful way.

What’s your saddest story of saying goodbye to a car?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What was the most important machine ever invented?”.

Just like last week, it was nearly impossible to pick a winner. In terms of transportation, high marks went to BlitzPig‘s nomination of the airplane and Alan‘s pick of steam engine. Fun Fact: having railroads connect towns meant that, for the first time in human history, time had to be synched across vast distances.

Going further back, Ben E. chose the wheel, without which no transportation would exist. MikeRL411 went even further back by opting for the wedge, which let early hominids do everything from lift heavy objects to kill each other with hatchets.

Left-field suggestions came from Jonathan P. in the form of a sewing machine, which incidentally helped companies like Toyota and Suzuki get off the ground as loom-makers. Ian G.‘s air fryer was as hilarious as Jeremy A‘ all-metal slide-rest lathe was eye-opening.

Since we couldn’t decide, we once again let the readers decide, and this week it was the printing press that got named the most. Bryan Kitsune, Carl Beck, and Land Ark all gave excellent arguments for the printing press, but it was Land Ark’s answer that won the week, thanks to a clever jab at its grotesque modern descendant and, ultimately, an automotive tie-in.

Gosh, airplane is a good one.
I’ve got to go with the printing press though since up until then anything written had to be done by hand so the dissemination of information was slow and mostly relied on word of mouth which would total change the message as it was passed along. Literacy became more common as reading became available to the common man. This led to the proliferation of education and allowed intelligent “common” people to get ideas out to the masses. These effects can be seen even today by the ridiculous nonsense you can read at any time on social media.
And most importantly of all, it allowed car manufacturers to produce glossy and beautiful brochures espousing the virtues of their cars. Where would we be today without knowing all the features of a B12 Nissan Sunny?

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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This post is filed under: Question of the Week.

8 Responses to QotW: What’s your saddest story of saying goodbye to a car?

  1. Fred Langille says:

    There is one especially that sticks out. The demise of my 1972 Honda Z600 Coupe. I had just arrived at Fort Jackson back in 1983 and, was awaiting my orders for deactivation from a 3 year tour in Germany. I had just picked up the Dodge Colt I had bought used there and, while awaiting my exit papers began driving around the area. Spotting the car in a used car lot, I immediately made a deal for it, trading in the Dodge plus $1,500 (good thing I did as I found out later the Dodge died on the lot!). The adventure with this orange little spit kit began when I oddeseyed across American in it to Arizona. It was faithful and when I went on several reserve tours of duty, I actually made money in travel pay. I had poured alot into it … new interior, window titnt. painting the rims up and a re4build. But, when the car was hit by hailstones in St. Louis, that was when it went downhill. Limping back to Phoenix, I arrived at the shop where I had been taking it … they specialized in the 600s. It died there and, I was, in a word, stranded. After 38 years of my junking it. I still remember it like yesterday. It was my introduction to JDM and had been a lifeline until the end. This car is still remembered with its license plate on my S-Cargo as the WV plate has SYNARA as commemoration . I switched to a bicycle and, it took a loooong time before I had as faithful transport as this little kei casr.

  2. Bob says:

    I purchased a brand new 2007 Honda Element EX 5-speed. Alibaster silver metallic. Owned it precisely 14 years and 5 days. Meticulous care. All service records. Splash guards, Elemat floor mats. Nicely protected. Never a day when rain water didn’t bead from being well waxed.
    On September 1, 2021, hurricane Ida arrived. Car was hit by a 4 foot wall of water traveling about 20 mph. Picked up off of my driveway and dropped in my backyard. Muddy water up to the door handles. Slammed by logs. Body damage where there was never a scratch. The next morning, I opened the door and cried like I’d lost a family member. Even the dome light was dead so I knew it was fried. Under the hood was a forest of wood and vegetation. 93,400 miles.
    I commuted with it, then retired with it, intending to be buried with it.
    My wife lost her 2012 Forester, also mint. Her car was also picked and dropped on top of a beer keg from the restaurant across the street. Had to jack the car up to remove it. We loved them both and kept many pics to look back on. At our age, we intended to drive them both into the ground, but that ambition wasn’t to be.
    We replaced them with a Pilot Touring and Rav4 XLE.

  3. Azfer says:

    Oh mann…this immediately brought memories of my totaled red 1990 Acura Integra GS. If you want the deets, you can jump to the 2nd paragraph. For the warm-up, continue reading. After waiting throughout my youth to finally be able to drive AND own a two door sports coupe, at the age of 19 I finally got my first ride. Even though I got it when it was 11 years old with 90k miles on it, it was everything I wanted and got to live it for 27 days. You read that right, twenty-seven whole days! How my automotive dreams were FINALLY realized and within a month, they died, but luckily I walked away with just a scratch and no one else got hurt either. The REALLY weird part of it is the first person to sit passenger in it was ALSO the last person to sit in it. Creepy, right? But this was one of the first things to remind me that life happens in circles.

    On a late Saturday night, I dropped off my friend at her dorm. I could have gone home myself but decided to take a drive into the city. On the way back, it started to drizzle. That, combined with a lit ‘ABS’ light, I should have driven more carefully than I was driving but because the brakes were working fine otherwise, it didn’t seem like an urgent issue to get it checked. Anyway, I was at a red light and ahead of me was one of the best half mile empty stretches. in the distance was a beautiful train station that looked amazing at night. I put the car in first (it was stick) because I saw the intersection light just turn red, so I knew it was going to be my turn. The light turned green and I sent it.

    V-tech didn’t kick in because it didn’t have any, haha, but I was a happy 19 year old not racing with anyone and enjoying my ride just by myself. 6500 rpms happened twice. I drove in 3rd for several seconds and then started to slow down. Unfortunately, I miscalculated how much distance I needed to make a successful right turn. I still remember every second of what happened next. My turn signal was ticking away. Car was slowing down but not as fast as I had thought. I downshifted into 2nd and pressed harder on the brakes. This is when I realized, it was over. When I looked down, I was going 40 mph. Soon after, I hit the curb, flew over the intersection, and landed at an angle into the barrier. Then I heard the traffic light fall on my roof. A man walking towards me from my left asked, “Hey, are you ok?” I realized right away that I was and I was SOOOO happy that he was far from my car’s trajectory. If you would look at the car, it would seem that someone broadsided me but it was all my doing, lol. The car had rotated slightly to the right mid-air.

    I didn’t have full coverage so didn’t get anything back from the insurance company. However, it was life’s way to save me from myself. For the next half a decade, I wasn’t able to afford a car and consequently, not able to drive like that and put myself and others at risk. When I finally was more mature, I was able to buy another 14 year old car, a 1992 Nissan Stanza for $350 which I drove for 2.5 years.

  4. JJ says:

    The day I had to give up my 2013 Honda Odyssey EX-L, dubbed “Batvan” by my kids. It was named because of a Lego Batman key chain that had been used almost as long as we had the van.

    The Odyssey was purchased brand new by my wife and I three days after the birth of our second child, when we realized that the new rear-facing car seats were much too large for the interior of the CR-V we had at the time. Almost from the beginning it was a valued member of the family. For 10 years it happily carried and transported everything we asked of it. It easily held all of the assorted newborn and toddler paraphernalia for long trips to grandparents and other family members, something the CR-V was never able to do. Later, it was the perfect vehicle for youth sports trips and during Covid provided a great space for changing into hockey and football equipment. It transported everything during its life; furniture from multiple Ikea runs, a snowblower, recycling and dump runs, moving boxes, camping equipment, there wasn’t anything that wouldn’t fit in the back of Batvan.

    Later on, when my wife got a new vehicle (a Ford Escape, ugh), I used Batvan to do the 2 hour daily commute for my job. While never the most exciting drive, she always delivered me where I needed to go in comfort. Driving rain? Whatever. Blizzard? No big deal, got snow tires. Scorching heat? Never once came close to overheating, and lordy is that A/C nice. Fuel economy? 8.9L/100km, thanks. The day before I lost her, Batvan had made her way to 380,000 km and showed no signs of mechanical failure. In my mind she was going to be my million-kilometre car, one that would horrify my adult children, grandchildren and wife. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

    This spring I was taking my youngest (the pathologically late one) to school, and pulled out of our driveway without shoulder checking. BANG! Got hit in the rear passenger side by a high schooler in his mom’s Buick SUV. $16,000 damage to Batvan, a slightly dented hood to the Buick. Driveable, but by the time insurance was done she was determined to be a total write-off. The day I had to leave her at the auto wreckers, still driveable, still mechanically strong, was tough. I said my good-bye after I parked her in the designated area, and had to fight back tears as I handed her keys (Batman keychain removed) to the owner of the wreckers. The only feeling I can compare it to was how I felt the day my wife and I lost our first dog.

    Thanks to the insurance money we’re now making payments on a Honda Pilot Black Edition. While it’s nice enough, I find that it just doesn’t compare to Batvan, may she rest in peace.

  5. Sedanlover says:

    1981 Toyota Corolla wagon (KE70).
    Rear ended at a set of lights, then stolen from the panel beaters… It was such a feeling of violation. The worst part was losing a bag of Snap-On tools in the back and my iPod Classic!

  6. streetspirit says:

    a few years back i had a 91 Pontiac Trans am.
    Nothing too fancy but she was fast, fun and perfectly suited my driving style.

    In between work, studying and being a caretaker the commutes were the only time i could properly unwind and take a break from responsibilities.
    so naturally i cherished every minute of it.

    I remember meeting my father in law at his work to ask for his daughters hand in marriage, the nerves, talking to the car as i drove there on a cold winters evening.
    Taking the elevator up to his office thinking to myself ‘i’l just blame my shaking hands on the cold’.
    sitting in the parking lot afterwards trying to comprehand the fact he actually gave me his blessing and not noticing the cold in the slightest anymore.

    I also remember doing some things of questionable legality sometimes when i went home late at night and needed some exitement.

    taking my fiancee on roadtrips with the t-tops off in summer, working on the car with friends.

    rainy days when the rain would play a tapping tune on the glass t-tops keeping me occupied in gridlocked traffic.

    but sadly all good things must come to an end, it needed a restoration and i had neither the time nor money to make that happen. so i sold her.

    On the train ride home i found an ad for an 84 prelude that would eventually become my first JNC.

    the trans am switched owners a few times since but i know where it’s at now.
    JNC stayed in the form of a Miata i’m restoring as a gift to my future wife and the ride for our wedding.

    so who knows, maybe the Pontiac and i will be reunited once more…

  7. ra21benj says:

    In the early 90’s I was in high school-college. My parents took away my brother’s car and gave it to me. It was a clean 1985 Celica GTS coupe (factory flares) RA65. This was a car I’ve wanted since junior high. During high school I worked fast food for a year to save up for rims. Bought SSR Takechi Hart mesh rims (16 x 8 inch, +13 offset) and had the car lowered till tires tucked under the flares. This was a fun time in life, just going to college, driving the Celica everyday with no responsibility and being young. Girls would have no problem sitting in the passenger seat cruising around in the car. I’m a quiet person, but when I was going to class people would go up to me and say, “You drive that clean Celica, right?”. Just driving on the street, people would yell compliments about the car while my windows were down.
    Then after final exams, me and some friends decided to celebrate and go to the beach. I was following a friend’s car and didn’t want to get left behind, so I made a left turn without looking and got in a T-bone collision that pushed in the right-side quarter panel and wheel. The car was ruined. I was full-time in college and wasn’t working so the car couldn’t be repair fully and looked like a beater car. I ended up selling the car to a relative.
    Looking back now, I didn’t have much except my Celica, but I was a lot happier. RA65’s aren’t really considered classics (non-convertible), so I’m always wondering if I should find another coupe to try and recreate/improve the car I had so much fun driving in college.

  8. Taylor C. says:

    My recent separation with my non-JDM family car was a pretty rough and not-deserved experience. Over the years our household’s family vehicle has been some form of a station wagon. We started with a 1994 Accord EX that had transmission problems, and so I converted that to manual 5-speed. A nimble wagon indeed, but I unfortunately sold that for house-related expenditures. Later I bought a 2005 Legacy GT wagon that had turbo and suspension upgrades. A super quick car indeed, but I sold that because I ultimately needed better fuel economy.

    It was replaced by a 2011 Toffee Brown Jetta Sportwagen TDI with a six-speed manual. It was nimble just like the Accord and had the prodigious torque just like the LGT, but it comfortably racked up 550+ miles per ~14gallon fill-up. Our road trips really tested our bladders, and 80MPH easily saw 40 MPG. Koni yellow shocks, Neuspeed springs, ADVAN RS wheels (JDM on EDM!), DieselGeek Short Shifter, KermaTDI software tune that brought things to 170 hp / 335 lb-ft and STILL retained ALL emissions equipment (hey, gotta be environmentally responsible), upgraded OEM radio with XD card slot for the long drives, WeatherTechs and Sparco Terra / General Altimax Artic tires / GTI front fog lights / excellent underbody anticorrosion coating for the winters, TDI-specific bigger brakes, such a nicely-spec’d vehicle. The A/C was excellent, the panoramic moonroof was one of my favorite features, the short shifter was a joy to row through, and the car was very quiet besides the subtle diesel hum on the freeway. I had OEM roof bike racks that my son and I used regularly, and during the snowy winters I passed by all the big SUVs and their low profile tires. Brown, Turbo diesel, Manual, Station Wagon, checked ALL the boxes.

    I bought the Sportwagen during the thick of the DieselGate scandal in 2016, but didn’t care so much for the payout. I worked on a previous generation of this engine as part of my graduate school thesis, so this powerplant had special value to me. In checking the “keep the car” option rather than get the payout, VW ultimately gave me $5k restitution, retrofitted with emissions equipment, and extended the powertrain warranty to 192k miles. Those were all icing to the otherwise excellent cake. I bought it at 136k miles and had all intentions to drive it to the ground. That ownership lasted until November 2022.

    The panoroof was not without fault, and common issues included clogged drains, detached drain tubes, jammed sunshade, and a plastic sunroof frame that cracked over time. I personally addressed all those issues except for the frame cracking, as there was no way of identifying that unless I tore apart the assembly, OR discovered a puddle of water in the driver’s footwell as I did. My car was parked in the open lot while I was on an extended business trip, and heavy rains found their way through the cracked frame to short circuit the electronics. When I picked up the car at that time, I didn’t think about any of the electronics, just that the car started right up and that I was able to get home. I spent the next day airing it out, and all was good, so it seemed.

    One night while coming back from a friend’s place with my son, the car’s starter wouldn’t turn. I didn’t think much of the impending issue, so my friend and I push-started the engine to life, and hurried home. Bolting down I-95 right outside Boston, the car suddenly illuminated most of its dash lights as well as chimes I was not familiar with. The power output quickly dropped, but all other power assists were still there. I’ve experienced this symptom before when I had a snagged turbo boost sensor wire, so I wasn’t too worried. I continued home on momentum as my freeway exit was right around the bend. Upon exiting, I started to realize that the engine wasn’t outputting anymore, and I was literally coasting to a stop. I had the car towed home with a troubleshooting plan and some hope.

    The next day was spent on troubleshooting; the fuse panel was wet throughout and there was oxidation, most probably from previous light rain sessions. The dash lights came up upon key-in, but the car would not crank nor push-start. I ultimately took it to the dealer, and they determined the root cause to be the aforementioned crack plastic frame. The electronics troubleshooting / repair would be less hard on the wallet, but even after resolving that, the plastic frame replacement was going to be the heavy hitter. Combined with soggy carpet, soggy headliner, the repairs were topping $10k. Used car values were still riding high, but my car’s assessed $8500 deemed the car as totaled. At 206k miles, it was way too early to bid farewell as the car had so many more years / miles left. My last view of it was online, through a local salvage auction site. Not sure how much it went for, but obviously less than what it’ll be worth to me.

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