Bone stock, baby-wipe clean piece of automobile masterly saved from inevitably of time. The one, that made me question the meaning of car ownership. You may know the drill: upkeep comes first. Jay Leno always repeats that it’s the finest form of classic car – original and unrestored. What on earth could this possibly be? Probably not a second generation Chrysler Voyager.
Now, why not? It looks good on the photo. Most successful car owners either get the car that gets the job done or get something less forgiving just for the sake of fun. Both if they’re lucky. Bending your mind to the point of getting a classic for daily purposes? Rare. So once again, Voyager?
Maybe it’s the fact that with its looks and stigmas, this pile of metal and fabric has been through so many junkyard green mile walks to challenge San Quentin. Inability to sustain life function in colder climate can be second. I wonder if passing out could actually call the execution off, that could save it few times. But after this becoming a habit, they would pass it to meth-heads on junkyards looking for shelter. Eventually everything runs out of time.
To my surprise, approaching it from safe golfing distance, I stopped numbering its flaws. Blinked few times just to be sure it’s not moving on its own, and noticed it’s not another “c’mon wit me kiddo, I’ve gut candy in mah cur” rusty death trap.
And that’s very good, but not enough.
Dead-navy paint with some dark violet breaking from it, very Marilyn Manson like. Well washed and polished too. Typical 90’s dual tone – because you would have to be crazy to waste precious enamel on plastic bumpers. No parking scratches or dents. If there’s corrosion somewhere it’s somehow well camouflaged, like royal inbreeding. Parking paid month in advance, impressive. Year of such expenses and you can buy whole Voyager like this but that’s another issue. No leaks under it. Ok, maybe nothing fresh. What do you expect? If you’re old enough to be in need of diaper you can’t change on your own, plastic surgery ain’t gonna change much.
I wonder what’s beating under the hood. If someone broke the bank with 3.8 all wheel drive V6, it’s a car that can do pretty much anything. Camping in the mountains – done, cross country adventure – done. Accelerating with 200-something horsepower’s not going to cure cancer but you could go all Bisimoto kind of crazy on it (see: center-seat Porsche Boxter). Make into beautifully blowing up Pikes Peak racer. Of course no road trip capabilities then. And it’s so fun to push the rear seats (strong enough, with a hammer) to make a huge bed out of them. It’ll be no match to your memory of falling asleep on Rachel’s boobs back in highschool but in comparison to other cars like this? Pretty good. Thirsty like Rachel too, of course. But we’re talking 95′ with $1.19 for a gallon of gas. Or descent bottle of booze. For that money, Pan-American stops being so scary. At least petrol-wise.
Knowing europe, it’s alarmingly possible that they’ve gone for diesel. I don’t understand that either so let’s move on.
Coming closer, still watching my six, my inner OCD pointed out pre-2000’s plates. Kinda makes me wanna look for the owner to talk to, it’s could be the first. Interesting how people make their decisions. Judging from what we’ve gathered so far, it may be the one of… a bit peculiar, old money, stealth wealth kind. Person that never really made that much money to brag about, but always had some just in case younger daughter wanted to get married on Ibiza – but she never did. Even though family is run with discipline, love for red velour and Venetian masks persists. After sixth child father wanted to get some. Read internet guides, bought fresh clothes with leftover wedding money and set off. Late on purpose, parking a car two blocks away from the restaurant. Stumbled upon his date anyway. She kept the pose. Waited for the right moment. Left him anyway. Waiting for herself, food and then for the police officer to stop asking questions. This strange human being – the owner – have managed to keep it as a secret. And once bought car in a mint condition. Even leaving it on considered to be city centre street. Someone prioritized things. Not 100% consistently. House above career attempt in Egyptology. Impulsive dating portal search over marrige maintenence. Got one Chrysler that will do what you ask it to most of the time and sacrificed dream of a shiny Benz. They could afford it. That’s just their “you get some, you lose some” method.
Tinted windows in cars like this usually indicate two things:
a) “I’m probably not going to like discovering someone’s severed head in there but maybe I should” type of unsettling feeling.
b) Raging disgust associated with some kid. You know him. It’s that bratty, bully-ish Toby that everyone wanted to slap in the face. Several times. He just got ex-grandma’s ex-car and wanted to pimp it […].
Hold my breath, nothing inside, thank God. Just some random stuff lying around with red carpeting on the main hall. And yes, I really mean “main hall”, it’s Voyager’s party trick. Version with sliding doors on one side had this mile-long corridor where Stanley Kubrick actually shot Danny Lloyd riding on tricycle. Aand we’re back with images of children inside.
She or he, talking about the owner again, could get so offended by European offerings of people carriers like Renault Espace – but still needed one – that importing this Chrysler seemed like a better idea. It was. Aside from the fact that it was probably made in Austria and came here from not so far away. And what it causes on parties. Mabye that’s why hipsters don’t flock around it. Just car nerds like me. The only alternative to this worth mentioning, would probably be Lancia. But what do I know being their fan and all. Deliberately ignoring the fact of Zeta being actually some joint venture piece of cash-grabbing commercial run for the hills. From the other side? It’s not like you can just open any website and scroll through offers of V10 Espaces. Buying a people carrier ain’t romantic. It’s when going to 100 kph in 20 seconds becomes real.
But now straight-face seriousness.
Walked around it. Called the danger off. Stopped for a moment.
I’m not alone in this, which is probably why it comes off so easily. I like it. Not just the Voyager itself, but in general, cars that have to go through a lot and yet not to be considered classics for a very long time. It’s hard to get them, but there’s no gem-like reward for the owner. Finding a stock 86′ Mitsubishi Galant in a barn will never turn your story into internet sensation. Population of these cars decreases in half-life manner, parts become expensive again. They’re not analogue enough to rant about old being better, they’re not that good-looking to change the whole conversation onto design, they’re most definitely not groundbreaking in any way. Think of a baseline Alfa 75, Audi 80 or even a Mercedes 190. It’s just so nice to see them saved. And now picture a parking lot. Full of plastic $99.99-a-month leasing items with some of these. Stealthily, quietly sitting on the pavement. Confident and humble-looking. Been through a lot. Some may rust and have chipped paint, normal stuff when they age. Troopers, with owners driving them regularly. Made in a time, when attitude of buying a car and sticking to it still existed.
Yeah, right. What I’m doing here is stretching like hell and being full of pathos. Cars from this era tend to start-up firing up like guns of Navarone with a smoke curtain. Leaving the place. Behind, only few old people stand full of nostalgia. Everybody else goes as usual. Moms pack their little brigades to SUV’s conquering over minivans. Get angry, shift to Hexenbiests. Battlefield settles. Only few display units like this get away quietly. Unnoticed.