Sweet 15: The Anniversary of an Automotive Legend
It has been 10 years since General Motors quit producing the Chevrolet Cavalier. Yet, the cavalier still rolls on. I recently visited the Kelley Blue Book web site, the place to go when evaluating cars. I noted that the 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier with 1,672 consumer reviews had an overall rating of 7.9 on a scale of 10. Upon reading this, it occurred to me that I am more satisfied with my ’00 cavalier, Sadie, than most people are with theirs. I say this because if they only gave it an average around 8 on a scale of 10 than they clearly don’t rate their cars highly as I would rate mine.
The other cavalier owners to their credit used words such as dependable, indestructible and affordable to describe their cavaliers. I whole heartedly agree with those sentiments. I own two sets of battery cables that have never been needed to start my own car. The cables are always used to help the other guy.
The irony is not lost on me that I went into the dealership show room in May of 2000 fully intent on purchasing a used Pontiac Sunfire. However, I also did not intend to get a red or white colored car of any make or model. (I just don’t want those colors in a car) Fortunately, the only sunfires available were either red or white.
Hindsight is 20-20
Travel like it’s 1999
Chicago welcomed the onset of 1999 blanketed with snow and battered by cold winds. I began and ended that year walking towards, waiting upon and riding on C.T.A. (Chicago Transit Authority) modes of transportation. I traveled to my two jobs, the “loop” (downtown Chicago), laundromat, grocery stores, church and everywhere else largely dependent upon their trains and busses. However, I did manage a car ride on occasion.
T.J., a church member who lived nearby, often gave me a ride to Sunday school in her Nissan Hardbody. A woman from my primary job would occasionally take me home in her Ford Taurus. In fact, I often drove her vehicle home so that she could catch a nap before returning to her house. I don’t mean to boast but I did help her with an engine maintenance issue and put a new tire on her car. Then again, maybe I do mean to brag. As such, I began to look upon the taurus along with the sunfire as possible new means of transportation.
Yet and still, the stars aligned themselves to place me into a Chevy Cavalier. Rodrigo, another coworker from my main job would drive me to our credit union every now and then. He needed me to help navigate the path from our south side employer to the credit union’s loop location. So guess what he drove? He owned a cavalier with the ordinary box shaped look of those produced between 1987-1994. Cavaliers with the sleeker modern style like Sadie’s were already on the road at this time. However, I still viewed the cavalier through square shaped compact car lens. But this would soon change.
I recently began dating a single mother with a teen aged son when Valentine’s Day rolled around that year. We both attended the same church. In fact, her son played the drums there. The holiday was actually on Sunday but the faith based ‘agape’ celebration that we went to happened on Saturday of that weekend. I knew beforehand that transportation might be an issue. I did not have a car and she drove a car in the twilight, seen better days stage of its life. Needless to say, I did not trust it to take us to a suburban location on a cold wintry night.
As a result, I rented a car on that Friday preceding Agape night. I was surprised when the rental people showed me the stylish cavalier. I would rent another cavalier later that year. The rental experience was unbeknownst to me, a harbinger of a beautiful relationship that would last for years. Indeed, the relationship marked its 15th anniversary on May 26,2015.
Big $ Ticket Repars
Replaced worn brakes on two occassions
Most recently Autumn 2013
I don't recall the date of initial brake repair
Muffler replaced, suspension work
Everyone knew I was coming by before repairs
3 new tires
2 tires bought together 2013
The third tire May 2015 as I had to change flat en route home from temp gig
New set of tires
2004 or 2005
I let too much mileage get on tires.
Body damage driver side
I shelled out $250 deductible to insurance carrier/employer for something that happened to my parked car while I slept the night away
I know that a battery has been replaced
The expense offset by a financial blessing bestowed by "big sister."
Radiater, hoses, water pump
Fortunately, I was able to do this at repair shop literally around the block from my house
Replaced headlight bulbs
This is a tedious task for the mechanically uninclined like myself
The Cavayears 2000-2015
The Cavalier has several good qualities attributed to it. Sadie of course is no exception and is a proven Chevy Cavalier:
- Good Gas Mileage
The estimated mileage is 22 city and 30 highway or thereabouts. I would say my average job commute has averaged around 25 miles one way. The lengthiest of these commutes was 40 miles one way from Evanston, IL to Chicago’s southwest suburban turf. The Sadie sedan has also served as my office when doing work that required driving as an integral part of the job.
The sadiemobile has logged nearly 200,000 miles in the process of taking me on a 15 year journey headed towards the future. Also, it never fails to start no matter how cold it gets.
That’s not a misprint. The word is spacious. I have carried whole families, their luggage, groceries, gifts etc. to and from church, both airports and many other destinations. Equipment such as lawnmowers, musical instruments and furniture has also occupied its environs.
- A Stud in the Snow
Sadie’s front wheel drive is every bit as good as anyone’s four wheel drive. I delight with a smug pride as Sadie chugs up a snow covered slope with which most other vehicles struggle.
- Road trips
The sadiemobile has taken me to St. Louis often. The trips to the gateway to the west sometimes included going to see my beloved Cardinals while other times it did not. I have also visited my out of state alma mater via my cavalier.
The sadiemobile has served as the churchfolkmobile. I estimate that some 50 or more people connected to both of my church homes (but particularly the city one) have boarded my cavalier’s comfy interior and enjoyed a smooth ride to their various destinations. Sadie has carried family members who include 5 siblings, 3 sister in laws, 8 combined nieces and nephews, both parents and the occasional cousins.
Continuing the tradition
What the Lord means for me is for me
I initially went into the dealership looking for less than what I would be blessed. However, I left that day after having put down a small deposit on a brand new Chevy Cavalier. Later, by perhaps a week or two, I repeated the train ride on the Rock Island’s Metra line to my native town. Next, I drove my parents in their car to the dealership located in a village bordering their hometown. I completed the full down payment, showed them proof of insurance, and signed my life away. (Not really, but it seemed like the paper work was a lifelong process) I then returned to the city driving my brand new Chevy Cavalier.
Sadie has rolled on for a sweet 15 years since. I wonder what the title of my article should be when the 20th anniversary arrives. However, that’s not a problem for me: After all, I do have five years to think of one.