Last week we got some bad news. And at first I wasn’t sure if I would share – mostly because I felt silly.
Most of you have probably seen my powder blue vintage 1979 Mercedes Benz pop up on my Instagram account. I love my car, and have included it in so many shoots and videos over the years. It’s been my baby for over 3 years, but just last week we got the word from our mechanic that after 40 years of being on the road, my car was done. The engine seized, and while I could spend several thousand dollars replacing the whole thing, in the end it meant that the car was totaled. I didn’t see it coming, but just last month while driving to see a Jenny Lewis show, the engine sputtered and left me on the side of the highway. If you drive an older car, you get used to moments like that, and I didn’t take it too seriously. Eric and I have fixed plenty of things on the car, and I was sure she’d be up and running again in no time.
But sadly, that wasn’t the case. The car that we drove away in on our wedding day with ‘Just Married’ written on the back window was officially done. No more desert road trips, no more traffic-filled drives to auditions, and no more powder blue slow but steady diesel car in my life. I’ll admit, I cried when we got the call, and felt so silly. It’s just a car, sure, but it was a part of our lives for so long.
So rather than wallow in that sadness, today I’m sharing the weird and random history of our car, and how it’s come in and our of our lives over the years.
I bought the car a little over 3 years ago off of a guy on craigslist. Nothing crazy about that, except for the fact that I already knew this car, had ridden in it countless times, and really never expected to see it again. It used to be Eric’s. When we were first dating, Eric didn’t have a car. After about a year and a half into dating , he bought this bulky powder blue diesel Benz for $500 and it became his daily driver. It had a LOT of problems, but was a total tank. The trunk was locked shut when he first got it, and when he finally got it open, it was filled with piles of trash and wet papers. He cleaned it out and I came to recognize the sound of the car when it would pull up outside of my parent’s house. A low rumble that I could hear from a few blocks away.
Back when the car was Eric's
Driving it out to the desert
The day Eric sold the car in 2015
We went to the movies in it, drove it out to the desert to camp in Joshua Tree, and of course made out in the back seat when I still lived at home. When I moved out of my parent’s house and in with Eric, we used it to transport most of my things to LA. The car was such a part of our lives, and we forgave all of its quirks. The fact that it was painfully slow when going up a hill, that most of the car doors didn’t close all the way, and the broken odometer that meant we had no real idea how many miles it had driven in its lifetime. It was Eric’s car for years, but eventually he couldn’t keep it.
Too many things needed to be replaced on it, the engine needed work, and if we had had money maybe we could have done those things. We were both living paycheck to paycheck and he needed a reliable car. I remember the day he sold it (for $500) to a guy who wanted to fix it up. I stayed inside of our apartment, sad about him selling it, and when I heard the engine start and back out of our driveway, I cried, assuming I’d never see it again.
And then just one year later, on Easter Sunday (incidentally the anniversary of Eric’s and I’s first date years before) our friend texted saying he’d found a car on craigslist that looked like Eric’s, and that it was for sale in Orange County. I opened the link and gasped. There it was – I recognized everything about it, but had to check the license plate to be sure. It was Eric’s car, partially restored and with a lot of work put into it that we hadn’t been able to afford.
In the time since we had sold the car, I’d taken the plunge and quit my desk job. I’d started working full time as a blogger and while it was still new to me, I had started to save up some money from it. The car was listed at $3200, and at that time I had a big job coming up with multiple blog posts, Instagram posts, and events that totaled that amount. We called the listing, and because we were driving in the area at the time for the holiday, we were able to see the car within 20 minutes of receiving the text. It was the most impulsive thing we’d ever done, but we had to at least go and see it.
The middle-aged guy selling it was a total liar. He talked on and on about how he’d owned the car for “years” and bought it off of a “little old lady” prior to that. I bit my tongue, wanting to interject that in fact no, he hadn’t, and that this time last year it was backing sadly out of our driveway with a different owner behind the wheel. We decided to keep any knowledge of the car to ourselves, just to see if the guy was truthful, and unsurprisingly he wasn’t. But the work done on it since we’d last seen it was great, and most of the repairs we had wanted to make but hadn’t been able to afford had been done. The car was solid, I was driving a 90s Ford that was due to die at any moment, and so we bought it the next day to have it become my car.
That’s how the car came back to us. I drove it for the last 3 years, and always received compliments. It was slow and bulky, but it was a statement. I loved my car. I featured it in more than one shoot, and was always happy to see it parked in our driveway. While it had been repaired it was still full of quirks, and over the years acquired a few new ones, like a leaking roof and a turn signal that only worked occasionally. Again, I forgave the car for all of its seeming faults and loved it for how unique it was. It was a tank until the very end, when I broke down on the side of the 710 freeway in Long Beach.
I thought we’d get some more miles out of it. We bought a new (vintage) car in January, but weren’t quite ready to part with the Benz. I was hoping to sell it to a friend or someone I knew so I could still see it from time to time. But just last week we took it into the repair shop and got the news that it was finally defeated. A seized engine just isn’t something we were prepared to deal with, and having 3 cars just doesn’t make sense. I was preparing to say goodbye at some point, but it just happened a bit sooner than I expected. Today Eric is seeing it off, and donating it to be sold for parts. Some parts of the car will live on in someone else’s repaired vintage car, but no more dates in our diesel-car-that-could.
I’ll admit, I’m pretty sad typing this out. Looking at all of the old pictures breaks my heart. On our wedding day, I drove myself in my wedding dress in the Benz, and my sister wrote ‘Just Married’ on the back window. We drove off in the car at the end of the night, for our first real moment alone as husband and wife. Sure it’s just a car, but man, what a car it was. I’m glad for the memories we made, and for it coming back into our lives the way that it did. I’ll miss you, car.