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First Car / Best Car — The Angry Carrot

When I was 16 I wanted a vintage Volkswagen so badly. Specifically, a Karmann Ghia. I lived in Arizona, so that sort of thing was unusually accessible if I could save the meager $2,500 or so from my part-time job at Schlotzky’s Deli. I could not. What I could manage was about 500 bucks and a few hours spent trawling phoenix.craigslist.org.Cars were an extension of the self back then, less of the practical, utilitarian vehicles that now carry us to our obligations and leisure with zero pretense. The market was abundant, but the funds were low and the stakes were high. Half of the students in my high school drove every day, so I had to stand out in the sea of Neons, Jettas, and Eclipses. Back in those days I was a satisficer, not a maximizer, mostly because I was willing to take whatever I could get. So when I came across the listing for a Pontiac T1000 hatchback, used as an art car in a vegan parade” — I knew I had found The One. In case the model doesn’t ring a bell, basically, it was the poor man’s Chevette. By the time I had lucked into the one I had found, it had been out of production for nearly fifteen years. The listing described a daily beater that was in the kind of condition you’d expect for a car of that age that had been owned by two twenty-somethings. It then went on to describe what an incredible opportunity it’d be to own a real art car, used in a vegan parade in Flagstaff. Sold. Done — had me at art car.”

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