Thursday, June 11, 2009

My obsession with Ford Escort Wagons

Amanda and I have decided to go camping for our vacation this year, and it got me thinking about how much I love Ford Escorts -- specifically how much I miss my '93 Escort wagon.

It was my second car that actually belonged to me (third, if you count the '71 Plymouth Satellite I owned for all of 3 months), the first being a '91 Escort Pony that I still owned during and after the time I owned the wagon.

It was like my hatchback but with a stronger engine, air conditioning, no broken springs, much less rust, and a lot more room. And, like all the cars I loved, it was stickshift.

For my 21st birthday, my friends and I loaded that car as tightly as we could and took off on an 8-hour road trip to Garden of the Gods, a scenic spot in the middle of Shawnee National Forest, in what we dubbed the crotch of Illinois. (Look at it on a map. Illinois has a crotch.)
On that trip, it carried a fallen tree from the road to the campsite, a tree that was longer than the car itself. I slept in it the first night.

When I was in college, my roommate was threatened with a knife by another roommate the night before my last final exam of a fall semester. Not feeling safe sleeping in that apartment, I drove my wagon out to the NIU parking deck, hopped in the back, folded down the seats, unrolled the sleeping back I kept in there, and slept until my morning final. It wasn't terribly warm, but it kept me out of the wind.

It hauled wood, doors, giant art projects. I got stoned in it regularly, listened to way too much public radio in it, and drove it through several snowstorms, one of which was so bad I couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of me at times. I really did everything in that car, and I loved it to its all too early death.

It started on fire. One day, out of nowhere, a recalled part that was never repaired failed. A mandatory recall too, so Ford notified the (previous) owner. They just never took it in. The wires to the fuel pump pulled enough current to melt the insulation off, and, naturally, the fuel pump stopped working. I coasted into a parking lot that happened to be a repair shop, and the rest is history. Not a very dramatic fire, but still technically a fire, so it was covered by insurance. And, of course, it was totaled. I wish I could've kept it.

To this day, I still sometimes itch to get my hands on another one. This camping trip with Amanda got my mind rolling with the possibilities, and they're very tempting. "Get it for a winter beater," I tell myself. "It would be a great commuter car," I say. "The Miata doesn't need the miles; the Escort would be more comfortable and better on gas." I scour Craigslist and dream of the possibilities.

I'm still dreaming.