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Blake Noble

An Odd Meeting

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Yesterday evening I decided that, given my hatred for my hateful old Astra hatchback has grown to burning new heights, I would pay a visit to Kentucky's largest independent auto auction the Kentucky Auto Sales Pavilion, or KASP for short located 30 miles north of me in Lexington and try to take home a beater or project car for less than $1,000 dollars. Here, it was certainly an obtainable concept and less of a challenge based on late Sunday night programs I had watched; numerous Clinton Administration-era vehicles seemed to cross the auction block here rarely ringing up at more than $1,500. It also seemed far less droll than spending countless future weeks of sifting through hyper-inflated used cars listed by pituitary retards on Craigslist. It didn't matter that I was willingly aware of the fact I was repeating a decision that has generally lead to disappointment numerous times, I wanted something that would at least be intact and functioning just enough to distract me from my decomposing blue piece of Euro trash.

I arrived at the auction around 6:30 and parked in a muddy gravel parking lot located immediately to my right down a side road just off of the main highway. I walked into the main lobby, a little confused by the rather chaotic atmosphere enveloping the building. People of all financial means and backgrounds were everywhere. Some of them were families buying their newest driver something fit enough to make it back and forth to class and in and out of mischief. I walked up to the main counter and registered to bid on something for free, took some literature, a form that allowed you to make a pre-auction bid on a vehicle if you wanted to skip the fireworks that were to come later, and a handy stapled bundle of papers listing the cars up for bid.

I then left the lobby and headed out to another gravel lot behind an open electrified gate to the left of the main building. As I walked along, I read through the listings and located the cars that coordinated with them. There were quite a few 2003 to 2004 Mustangs with under 80,000 miles, but they all seemed like they would be outside of my paltry budget. There was a very nice GMC Sierra up for auction, but again considering its more recent age and mileage I knew that it too wouldn't go for less than a few thousand dollars. From there I tried to lower my sights and checked out a recently decommissioned Crown Victoria Interceptor with a horrible set Auto Zone wheel covers, a higher mileage Jeep Liberty, a handful of random pickup trucks, and a salty old fourth-generation LT1 Firebird Formula. The Formula certainly caught my eye, but considering that a kid younger than I am was hovering around it like a junkyard dog, I knew it would be a quickly escalating fight past my thousand dollar limit come auction time. I decided to back away.

From there I rambled on for a few moments longer, continuing to check out other cars on the list, but none of them were as interesting as that old Firebird. There were two Y2K-era Monte Carlos that could have made interesting beaters, but they just weren't speaking to me. As the sunlight faded into darkness, I continued to crawl around various vehicles until I finally spotted something that would reveal itself as something far more interesting than the old fire chicken, but for a different reason entirely.

It was lot number "C 0065" on the fourth page of my list of cars, a black late '90s Chevrolet Camaro with just over 165,000 miles that somehow bared its scars quite poorly, its youth nearly evaporated. The clear coat had begun to bubble and peel like a bad sunburn on the front bumper and the headlamps were horribly jaundiced. The paint was down to the primer in small chips on top of the rear quarter panel next to the driver's side door. The passenger side window refused to roll up completely. Considering the fact this particular car brought back memories of my old Camaro that I owned during 2010 and early 2011, I decided to spend some extra time with it just for the sake of nostalgia.

I opened the door and checked out the interior, which had almost finished decomposing into a rat's nest out of shear abuse and flagrant neglect. The driver's side power window and door lock control plate had completely busted out of the door panel. The console lid had been broken and ripped apart, the top thrown haphazardly in the back passenger side foot well. The sun visors were in complete disarray and did not want to stay in a normal, stationary position, the visor's elastic bands meant for holding letters and maps were stretched loose and hung like strips of melted flesh. During my depressing survey of the interior, I also noticed to my delight this particular Camaro had a manual gearbox just like my old one, although the leather boot had broken and fallen into the console.

I decided to sit inside of it for a moment, just for my amusement. Better memories of my old Camaro began flooding back; memories of first taking it home on a snowy winter day after I had saved up the money from selling my old Regal; memories of disassembling the dash to install a new stereo and relocate the Camaro plaque to the center of the IP cover because that's how I thought "it should've been brand-new"; memories of taking it on a handful of trips to Louisville to buy and trade various guitars; memories of somehow managing to fit an amplifier almost two-thirds of my height into the hatch with the back seat folded down. I also remembered how that same Camaro always gave me constant mechanical grief with a new problem cropping up every other week, and how it even left me stranded going to work a few times. I pushed in the clutch, turned the key, and started the tired 3.8 liter V6. Even though the catalytic converter was obviously and painfully clogged, the exhaust note sounded just like that of my old car after I had it fitted with a cheap Flowmaster muffler I bought from Advance Auto Parts.

That's when it hit me. As I started noticing some of the small details, I realized that this wasn't just some rag-tag kissing cousin to my old Camaro – it was my old Camaro. I noticed the dash plaque had been relocated to the dead-center of the IP bezel and had a bad wiggle from where I accidentally broke a leg or two off the backside of it trying to move it. The old window sticker was still in the owner's manual in the glovebox. As I walked around to the back of the car, the taillights were a set of “LT1-style” lights from an older Camaro that I had picked out of a junkyard. The muffler was, in fact, that cheap Flowmaster from Advance.

Even though I had grown to hate that Camaro, I now felt nothing more than pity for it. Someone had certainly given it a life of misery and hell after I had let it go. Despite the fact I knew the car was good for nothing but trouble, I was honestly tempted to make a bid on it, just to have it back and give it another chance. While it wasn't reliable for me, it wasn't a bad car and didn't deserve to be trashed so horribly like it had.

I ultimately decided to say a final goodbye to my old car and leave the auction after this. There really was nothing I felt was worth fighting over to take home. While I probably should have thrown a bid in on my old Camaro just for laughs, I don't regret walking away from it. I do regret that it had gotten too dark outside and the lighting was too poor to take a picture with my cell phone, though. It was certainly an odd meeting of chance. The only memento I have of this is the auction listings packet and, when I got home later, I double checked the VIN number on the sheet with some old records I kept of my old Camaro and they certainly do match.

While the Astra will certainly be replaced as soon as the correct car presents itself, I can't help but to think of it suffering a similar fate. Although it has been anything but perfect, it hasn't been the problem child the Camaro used to be. Thinking of someone else sucking what little life it has left to give out of it is quite humbling to say the least, and slightly haunting. I guess if I have to say I learned anything from my old automotive flame tonight, it's this: my revolving door of daily driver vehicles has to come to an end, if not for the Astra's sake, then for its replacement.

Edited by black-knight

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I thought I would try and build this post up into something more enjoyable to read than my usual banter about my volatile automotive love life. It's a little rough in spots, but I hope you guys like it.

Edited by black-knight
  • Upvote 1

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Thank you for an enjoyable morning read while eating breakfast. It is amazing what we find when we least expect it.

Good luck with your hunt.

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Whoa. That is a cool story. Thanks for taking the time to share it!

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