Our Top Story
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Our TOP story.......
In late September, our beloved Maloney Ranch was perforated by the tapping of millions of tiny scrubbing hailstones, nature's way of saying that you need a new roof. It's not often that you get to see parts of your roof shingles coming out through your downspouts. Our siding was 'spared' according to our insurance company-- Allstate (the empty hands people- courtesy of Hurricane Katrina) Some of our neighbors weren't so lucky-- the siding on their white house was so pockmarked that you could paint the word 'Titleist' on it and drive it off the tee. (It looked like the surface of a golf ball.)
another TOP story..... or TOP LESS story.......
Old childhood dreams never die.... they just come back and haunt you. I looked in the mirror one morning and saw a graying, pudgy blob in it (old shaving cream-- I scraped it off), then I saw the dashing, silver-haired, George Clooney impersonator squinting back at me---- I seem to look better when I'm not wearing my bifocals-- and I decided to do something about it. Then the search began-- google, eBay, craigslist--- I knew what I wanted-- -but I couldn't explain it to Wendy--- she would never understand. The web was full of the newer, younger ones-- but they were SO expensive-- the older ones were classier--- but high maintenance. I went out looking for days, weekends, every chance I got I had my eyes open looking for just what I wanted........ until I found her...........
a Chrysler Sebring Convertible!
My old summer car was a German-made orphan called a Merkur XR4Ti. It was the automotive version of a crystal decanter-- very beautiful, very useful and very,very fragile. I loved to drive it, but it being a 20 year-old European Ford castaway-- made me nervous to be on a different continent from most of the available repair parts. So I made the supreme decision to send the Merkur off to a good home and get the type of car that I wanted since I was 9 years old--- a ragtop!
If you are a patient person, the absolute best time to buy a used convertible is late October/ early November. You buy the car at a nice price and put it away in the garage for the winter. You can tinker with it to get it ready for the spring, and give it all the T.L.C. that it needs (TLC means Tender Loving Care-- unless you are reading it in a car sale ad - then it means Totally Lost Cause). I made the rounds of the car dealers (kill me now! Kill me now!) looking at refuse and refugees. One dealer tried to sell me an 8 year old Saab convertible (Saab is an acronym- Swedish Autos Always Break) telling me how great Saabs are and that Sebrings are a "dime a dozen." "So are their parts," I said, walking out of the dealership. Europe is a great place to visit, but it's a heckuva long way away if you need a new headlamp. Ask me how I know.
I looked at Ford Mustangs, but I prefer a car that has a trunk that can hold
something larger than a business- size envelope. Besides that, I needed a car
with a back seat that can seat two adults that are non-amputees. General
Motors does not make a convertible car that doesn't make you feel like you are
in a cave when the top is up. The Mazda Miata is a precious little car that you
can fit precious little into. Try to fit two sets of golf clubs into it without
strapping them on the back-- then you could probably drive it out on the fairway
and save the cart fee. Buy a Jeep -- if you don't mind going around in a car
that rides like a jackhammer. In my opinion, each new Jeep should come with a
gift certificate to the local chiropractor.
Each car that I considered buying I checked out with CARFAX. CARFAX in a website that lets you check any car by its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to see if it's been folded, spindled or mutilated. Also flooded, wrecked, rebuilt, junked, salvaged or had its clock turned back. The things that came out! Most convertibles that I saw listed on Ebay, Autotrader.com or on dealer lots were third owner wrecks that started out as rental cars in California and Florida. People forget that the most popular vacation sport in coastal regions is flogging rental cars. They get beaten mercilessly by tourists for a year, then auctioned off to "wholesale distributors" who clean them up and send them all over the country instead of into hospice where they belong. Usually you can tell-- any car that you test drive that rides like a humpback whale, steers like a shopping cart and is irresistibly drawn to curbs was probably a rental car-- oh yes, the radio speakers will sound like a kazoo band.
Anyway, I found the car I wanted. A Sebring whose only owner's last name wasn't Avis, Hertz or Budget. A clean local history, low mileage and a good price. I can put my family in it and TWO sets of golf clubs in the trunk. Now I can put the top down on nice days, and every other day worry about vandals, hailstorms, falling objects and flipping over. I learned something recently about ragtops. Did you ever drive around in one during a sudden downpour? It's like driving around inside your own personal pup tent-- or a snare drum. Most car dealers don't mention that during their sales presentation. But don't worry about it. Just turn the radio up louder. The kazoos go well with the percussion.
And that just about puts the lid on it