Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Carried away

In just about a month, I'll achieve ten full years of owning what I intend to be the last car I ever buy with debt, my 1997 Audi A8.

Funny how a tenth anniversary is a 'tin' anniversary.  The irony.

For its part, it has decided to celebrate the occasion by presenting me with an $800 bill to replace the fuel pump.  The fuel pump is, like many parts on this odd duck of a car, unique.  It's not a $79 fuel pump like those on most cars (Audis included), it's a $900 fuel pump that resides in the gas tank.  I found a used one from a reputable Audi recycler* online for $400.

Here it goes, headed off to the shop.

I've put over 100,000 of the car's 180,000 miles on myself.  It was Audi's flagship technology showcase back in the 1990s when their advertising slogan was Vorsprung durch Technique** (Advancement through Technology).  It's an aluminum bodied and paneled car with a 300hp/300 torque V8 and all wheel drive.  Heated seats and power headrests in the back!  The sticker on it was $65k when it was new in 1997; I picked it up five years later for $18,000 when for the same money I could have had a base Accord with cloth seats and a four cylinder.  Audi, here I come.

If a car is the fashion statement I believe most material items to be, it certainly expresses a lot about me:
  • Quality, but at a value price. 
  • It is a subtle Q-ship, yet can command some attention.
  • It's quirky, sporty, powerful, safe, luxurious and performs best when pushed.
  • It works hard until it hits the wall and can't continue.
  • It has a lot of good years left in it.
  • The glovebox key was never provided, ans so its contents remain a mystery to me, even ten years later.  I'll have to pry it open before it goes to the wrecker.
  • It's missing something (a manual transmission.  Oh, nirvana!) to be perfect.  And aren't we all missing something? 
  • It's looking a little old, but cleans up nice.
    It's a great fifteen year old car.  When Hertz deigns to give me a luxury or sport car as a rental, I always enjoy getting back to the A8 when I return home- it compares favorably, even today.

    I've spent enough money on it this year to have bought a dependable replacement for it, but am rolling the dice with what I know.  I'm tempted to get another of the same vintage- either as a parts car or as a backup.  But having two or three of the same, older model car in the driveway would reveal another personality trait that I'm maybe just not ready for.

    Audi A8, here's to you.  Keep me running for another five years, will you?

    *Shokan in NY.  www.shokan.com When I called and placed the order with them, they asked if I'd bought from them before to save some time in the order entry process.  I remembered the name and thought maybe.  When the customer service rep checked the computer, they came up with a shipping address to a company I worked at in 1993.  That's pre world-wide-web stuff, folks.

    **If you've ever wondered what Bono is saying in the opening lines to Zooropa, now you know:
    "Zooropa...vorsprung durch technik (a step ahead through technology)
    Zooropa...be all that you can be"

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