Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Another Road Trip, Another Subaru

I did it. I bought a car. Well, I made a verbal contract to buy a car assuming it passes the Road Worthy Certification as expected. I had to call my bank to get them to increase my daily ATM withdrawal limit so I could actually get the cash together. And I had to do another test drive. But now I am soon to be the proud owner of a 1992 Subaru Legacy with 307,000km on it. Yes. That many. And yes, that still makes me happy.

The car feels like comfort. The car feels like home. But most importantly, the car feels like a tangible end to the car-buying process. It feels like a weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to spend hours online looking at car listings, sorting through the ads to determine which are reasonable, which are good deals, and which are flat out lying. I don’t have to walk an hour to take a train for an hour to find out that the car is rusted through. I don’t need to weigh options of reliability vs. cost vs. comfort vs. perks vs. shortcomings. I don’t have to decide which is the reasonable choice, which is the comfortable choice, and which is the right choice. I can let the ball of nerves go, and just breathe easily again. (So much so that when my hard drive with all my trip pictures died an hour after I made the deal, I passively thought, “This will work out somehow. No worries.”)

The Suby is the one I wanted. It is the one that I liked most. It drove the best. It felt like an extension of my body. And it involves the least hassle. Added bonus, the family selling it was my favorite of the sellers. It is a family with three sons and a dog. All of them are friendly. I talked with the father on the first test drive about the family trips to Philip Island to relax and surf. I talked with him about how much the car selling/buying process sucks. On drive two, I talked with the mother about the neighborhood architecture and the travesty of the McMansions coming in. (Their neighborhood looked like the 519’s in Arlington, for those that know who I’m talking about.) And back at the homestead, she and I and her eldest son spoke of music, festivals, concerts, local bands and the like. They even recommended to each other bands to pull up on YouTube to show me some of the current highlights of Aussie music. I spent a while hanging out in the kitchen exchanging stories of experiences on travel with them, just generally being an adopted wanderer. (The vibe of the 519 was strong with this family.)

I was conflicted. They had agreed over email to drop the price a little. My two options at this point were the Suby that I really wanted, and the GM with 100K less km on the dial and a sticker price $1200 less. I had explained I wanted the Subaru but that the numbers were hard to argue. And that was true. But after speaking with several people about the pros and cons, about following my instinct, and having Flash tell me straight up to go with the Subaru, my mind was made up, regardless of the price.

And I let my mind dive into confusion one last time. I needed it to. I was torn, and I wear my emotions on my face. “And you said $2500 is as low as you’re willing to go?”

She paused. “Are you paying in cash?”


Then she dropped it a little more. I paused. I squinted my eyes and gritted my teeth; I grimaced. Then I shook it off and hesitantly, “Yes, I’ll take it.”

The mechanic is lined up for Monday. If it passes (and it should, since it passed a few months ago and nothing new has happened), then Tuesday we go to the equivalent of the DMV and switch over all the paperwork. Then I am the proud owner of a few thousand pounds of metal and glass and plastic that I can hurtle at solid objects at speeds of a couple hundred kilometers an hour. And I can find that freedom again. To go where I want, when I want. I am not beholden to the schedules of others. I can head west. And I can take on passengers whenever I want. Mom in May. Jamie possibly whenever he comes out. Renee and Matt if they make it. Julia if she ends up joining for a leg. With comfortable seats, space for all our gear, and room to lay down and sleep in the back, I now have a backpacker’s mobile home. And with this I will head out in search of whatever my dreams can conjure.

NOTE TO READERS: I want to name this car. I’m not the naming-my-car type generally, but on a cross-continental road trip where I expect to rack up 30,000km in 8 months it seems right. So I’m taking any suggestions you have. I appreciate serious ones that are creative, sound cool, and/or are relevant. And the name should be something I can use in mixed company.

One comment on “Another Road Trip, Another Subaru

  1. Mandy
    March 27, 2012

    Call it the Goobaru. Because that sounds kind of aboriginal and Goo from Gumby was blue as well.

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2012 by in Australia, Victoria (Melbourne).

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