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Cory Wolfe

The Chronicles of Grand Am

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The Beginning


It was Fall of the year 2004, as I looked for my first car. I really wanted a Fiero. I looked for one left and right. I knew it was a longshot, but I would constantly dream of it and had hopes it would become a reality. Soon enough, the idea was shot down by my parents, only after agreeing to it earlier. I wasn't happy, needless to say, but my search continued into the Winter. My dad would always buy the weekly Trade book, looking for deals. Soon enough, we came across an ad for a 1995 Grand Am GT with a manual transmission for $1000. My thoughts were "Atleast it's a manual". I wasn't overly enthusiastic, but I thought it would be a decent car. We called the guy and scheduled a day to take a look at it. I still remember the day clearly. It was raining, cold, and getting dark. We were to meet at Sheetz in Brockway. Me and my dad got there early and waited. I kept watching traffic to find a Grand Am. After about ten minutes, I finally spotted it coming down the road and finally pulling in beside us. I was amazed at how nice it looked. It was very clean. The downside, the ticking was obvious. My dad took a test drive of it and approved, thinking he could fix the ticking. Upon asking me, I said "Sure." It was final, it was going to be mine. A few weeks later, in January of 2005, we picked it up. I was happy to finally have a car.

The Grand Am went straight into my garage after I got it. My dad set to work trying to fix the ticking. It spent many months sitting in there. My dad never could fix the ticking. He finally put it all back together and once I got my license in the summer of 2005, it was finally on the road. I learned to drive a manual with it first and managed to not stall it or grind any gears (to this date, I have yet to do either). Throughout the summer, I prided myself in keeping it clean and driving it every waking moment. It was my first real taste of freedom. Just me, my music, and my Grand Am. Eventually, it was time for school. I started by riding the bus, as always, but I itched to drive my Grand Am to school. It was something that I looked forward to, something that I saw as improving my social life. I devised a plan that would allow me to do just this. Working and doing school work was clearly going to be a burden I couldn't handle with the depression and all the stress. I figured that by not eating lunch in school, I would have $8-$10 I could use at my disposal for gas. It worked. I starting driving to school. At the time, I wanted to fit in, I wanted to impress. A ticking Grand Am certainly wasn't the best car possible for that, but I had big dreams for it. I wanted to rebuild the engine, get it painted, buy new rims, do minor cosmetic touches, and put a "system" in it. I had it all planned out.

The Turning Point


A few months into the school year, I stopped at the GM dealership here in Brookville after school. They just got in their first G6 coupe and I wanted to check it out. As I looked it over, one of the salesmen came out to talk to me, one who I was familiar with through family members buying cars there. We went on about the car, my family, etc. He finally brought up a job and hinted at getting one there. It was definitely a job I felt I could do, but I was hesitant about it because of school. A few days later, in November of 2005, I went to my grandparent's after school. Coming down a hill, I had to slow as someone in front of me turned off. Now going up a nearly mile long hill, I tried regaining speed as someone began riding my ass. I kept it in 2nd and sped up until I was near the red line. The next day, on my way to school, I noticed something off with my Grand Am. As I was heading up the hill to where the school is, I was losing speed, it was overheating, and the oil pressure was nonexistant. When I finally got to school, parked, and got out, I noticed a noise coming from my car despite it not running anymore. I couldnt figure out what it was and didnt think much of it, so I went inside. Upon getting out, I popped the hood and checked everything out. Everything seemed fine. After hesitating, I started home and experienced the same problems. Once home, I told my dad and he looked it over. I took one last ride where I noticed a new sound, a knocking. It was getting worse and worse and kept overheating on me. Once back home, I told my dad. I rode the bus from then on.

The Grand Am was back in the garage after driving it for just over 4 months. The engine seemed to be a lost cause. I removed my stuff from it, including my stereo. It sat there for months before my dad eventually started working on it, despite others' suggestions (and his own intentions) to find a replacement engine. Upon tearing it down, we found that the headgasket was blown and the head was warped to the point that the spark plugs were fused with the head. By late March of 2006, he had the engine back together, minus two engine bolts and with a broken temperature sensor and only three new spark plugs. I took it out afterwards to see how it ran. It still wasn't running like it used to, but it ran, I figured. My dad renewed the registration for it. The next day, I took it out once more. I didn't get far before I started losing power. Would also stall on me when I wasn't moving and would not want to start. Came to the point where I was limited to 15 mph going up a hill in a 55 zone. Soon after reaching the top, my Grandparents' place was just down the road, so I attempted to make it there. Just after pulling in, it died on me. Opening the hood revealed that it was overheating (could hear boiling coming from the engine as well as the coolant being forced out.) My Grand Am was dead, I figured. I called my mom and she picked me up. The Grand Am would sit at my Grandparents for months to come. I was getting fed up with my situation and wanted out of it. Since winter, I had tried to sell to my ATV. Around the end of May 2006, I figured that I would have an easier time selling it if I had it allow a road with considerably more traffic. I would bring it out to my Grandparents, where my Grand Am still set, and camp out till I sold it. It was a plan. Brought it out and the next day, sat it out by the road promptly at 10 am. An hour later, it was sold for $2600. I had the money by the end of the week.

The Beginning of The End


On June 10th, 2006, I bought my Millenia. This marked the end for my Grand Am. Never had I been more happy to drive a car. Before the end of the month, I had already put over 2,000 miles on it. Meanwhile, my Grand Am continued to sit at my Grandparents well into June. One day I came out to shortly reinstall my stereo to remove a CD a forgot to eject before originally removing. By then, my Grandpa wanted it out of his driveway. How, was another story. We had no way of hauling it and it was unknown whether it would be able to make it home. My Dad decided to take the risk of driving it back to my house. With the interior torn apart, no license plate, and an engine that didn't want to run, he drove it 8 miles to our house. Once there, I reassembled the interior out of boredom. From then on, it was a lawn ornament. Over 8 months passed before anyone touched it. That came earlier this year when my dad took apart the ignition control module for use in the Sunfire. It turns out that the sole spark plug left unchanged broke off. After removing the head, he removed what was left of the spark plug and replaced it with a new one. One problem was solved, but the engine was still decidedly hurt. I had taken it for a short ride and it was still as powerless as can be with a pronounced knock in the engine. Thusly, it remained a lawn ornament.

May of 2007 started out rather usual. My Grand Am sat in my yard, killing grass. It since developed a hanging left side exhuast as grass clippings months old clung to the sides of the body. It was a breeding ground for bee's making nests within it, cats fighting beneath it. That soon changed. As I came home from driving about one day, a light blue Ford Ranger pulled into my driveway after me. As I got out, I see this innocent kid exit it. I recognized him from when I was in school, he was a grade below me. I wondered what he could possibly want. I slowly walked up as he greeted me and said hello. Soon after, he expressed his reasons for stopping by. He was interested in my Grand Am. He told me how he saw it sitting there each time he went to see his Grandma. He has one like it with a good, low mileage engine but a body that's been rebuilt in the past and is pretty beat. I was taken back by this, not expecting someone to suddenly have interest in it. Upon asking what he should expect for a price, I just shrugged, but suggested a few hundred at the least. We exchanged information and he said he would try to contact me. Days later, he called. We decided on a price of $300. He wouldnt be able to have the money until June, however. It seemed unreal. When he contacted me again around June, he told me how some things came up and he wouldnt have the money for a few more weeks. I figured it wasn't made to be. I guess I was wrong. Thursday, June 14th, 2007, he called back and told me he had the money and would be over Saturday to hand it over. This day comes and I'm very anxious to see if it will really happen. I end up climbing one of our trees to kill time and get a better view. I see his Ranger pull in. I hop out and walk over. He hands me the money and tells me and my Dad that he can have it out of here that night. He chats with my dad and leaves to get a friend to help with getting it. An hour later he comes back, hooks a chain up to the Grand Am and to his Ranger and goes on his way.

Memories Made


Perhaps it was inevitable... From day one, it wasn't what I wanted and it was always problematic. At times, I told myself the worst decision I ever made was to buy it in the first place. Yet, I could never say I hated that car. Quite the opposite, in fact. I loved it. Despite the heartaches it put me through, it will always be my first car. Nothing is ever going to change that. It was the first car I called mine, the first car I was able to experience the seeming freedom in. While I wish it would have turned out to have been a better car, I will accept what memories it has given me. As I watched this kid haul off with my Grand Am, I couldn't help but be sad. It's one part of my life that is now gone and I will never have back. It represents a time where I wasn't always mentally healthy, where I tried to become my own person, tried to fit in. All I have left are my memories... Good and bad. I will never forget it. With this said, I will end with a pictorial of my Grand Am. Thanks for reading.

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Hopefully the kid will swap in his good engine and you'll see it on the road from time to time. It's still a goodlooking car.

I think everybody has a special connection to their first car. I know I do.

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I enjoyed the story. It was quite good. There is a story behind every car. There were some sad moments too. I read it and was like he really feels for this car. I hope that this car has a good new home and success with the new owner. I am sure he will make some changes to it too. They always do.

I will be honest.. I do not have fond memories of my first car. It was the first Oldsmobile Ninety Eight I owned. Too many times at the dealership, I got talked into that Ninety Eight. It was not what I wanted either. I have the Ninety Eight I want now.

I hated my first Toronado. I hated the color and it needed too much work to it. It was better off totaled.

I am happier with the second one even though it needs a new engine a few other things. When they are off the road, that is the part that hurts.

So.. You like your Millenia? So this may sound silly.. You drive a Mazda.... Do you want to own a GM car to drive?

Someone else's car in the driveway does not count in this case.

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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So.. You like your Millenia? So this may sound silly.. You drive a Mazda.... Do you want to own a GM car to drive?

I love my Millenia, for sure. Would I want to own a GM car? To be honest, I would be just as happy driving a Mazda as I would a GM or anything else. I tend to focus on the car itself, not the brand it originates from. On that note, I would like a change. As much as I like my Millenia, I'm growing bored with it. I would like something that requires more driver input and is somewhat faster. I've been thinking about just giving it to my brother, if I were to get something else, to sort of repay my parents for some things. I don't want to get rid of this one, though, I'd like to keep it in the family and see how long it will last.
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From day one, it wasn't what I wanted and it was always problematic. [...] Yet, I could never say I hated that car. Quite the opposite, in fact. I loved it.

Sums up how I feel about my S-10. Pretty much exactly. :P

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