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Randy and the Impala Story (Or, Do Cars Have Souls?)

By Neil Bucher

While sitting in my comfy chair, watching an advertisement for a new TV show called Married at First Sight (and divorced soon after), I thought about my brother Randy.

Randy (since deceased) had a powder blue 1957 Pontiac. She was a real beauty, that car, and he drove it for years. But when he got married, his wife had her heart set on a convertible — you know how that goes. So he began searching the "previously owned" (we called them "used cars" back then) lots, and at one of them he found a 1962 blue Chevy Impala convertible. Perfect. He hated having to trade in his beloved Pontiac, but the deal was soon done, the paperwork filled out, and the exchange to be made.

A few days later as I was eating supper, Randy burst through the front door in a panic. “What’s up?” I asked.

“The transmission’s slipping like crazy!” he cried. “I barely made it home!”

Stunned, I followed him outside and, sure enough, his reliable Pontiac was sitting there in a cloud of smoke and stinking of burnt transmission fluid. 

“What am I gonna do?” he gasped.

Gravity came into play here, for we lived at the top of a long hill with the used car lot near the bottom. The car could still move on its own — barely — and we were able to nurse it down the hill and right into the car lot. And as it sat there, smoking and stinking, the salesman came out to meet us. Uh-oh!

"Honest to God!” my brother wailed, “it was running perfect until this afternoon!  You, you test drove it, right?” The man nodded. “And, and the tranny worked perfectly! I can’t understand...“

The salesman put a calming hand on my brother’s shoulder and said some words I will never forget: “Relax, son, I believe you completely.”

Randy’s eyes bulged. “You do?”

“Seen it happen a dozen times over.”

“You, you have?”

“Yup. Some cars,” he then elaborated, “resent being traded in after faithfully serving us through thick and thin.”

So the deal was still done. Randy had to adjust the trade-in value of his Pontiac (by an extra hundred bucks, which was a good deal), and his wife got her 1962 Impala convertible.

— Neal Bucher

Over the last 40 plus years Neil Bucher has written nearly a dozen novels on a variety of subjects. Two of them have been published. A proud grandfather three times over, he is a retired mechanical engineer who started out as a rocket scientist (believe it or not). For recreation he’s an avid kayaker, and since he can’t leave well enough alone he modified his kayak to use retractable portaging wheels and a rudder.

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