Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Unfortunate Addition to my Financial Lexicon

I made an offhand comment about the pending loss of my cute little red Miata (lovingly nicknamed "Ernesto") the other day which has not gone unnoticed. So, in acquiescence to popular demand, I shall attempt to explain what has transpired.

The air bag warning light has come on, and stayed on.

No, it doesn't sound like such a big deal at first blush, but...

Edmunds provides an appraisal value for private sale of $1,699.  Now I consider this to be ludicrously low since I can easily find contemporaneous models with asking prices approaching $4,500, but I don't know whether they're selling at that price. Mine has fairly high mileage at 117,000+, but it also has fresh paint, a fresh top, and some wicked nice wheels and tires. I figure that the $4,000 region is more accurate, but all of that is moot: fixing the airbag is at least a $1,000 job, and I'm afraid that if I throw another grand into, something else will break and I'll be right back to where I am now. And $1,000 is the bottom line estimate; the Mazda dealer (I know, but small shops want nothing to do with this kind of work) wasn't even sure they could find the parts.

1996 Mazda Miata - asking $3,850  (21 city / 26 highway)

Your first reaction will be, "So? Drive it without the airbag. Even in that state, it has to be safer than a motorcycle."  Well, yes, but there's a reason that I don't ride a motorcycle. You have to understand that Ernesto is my drive-to-work car, and my drive to work is 35 miles each way of moderately dangerous highway driving. I've seen too much mayhem in my fifteen years of traversing the city every day to be comfortable with driving a protection-impaired car. If Ernesto was just a "take a nice drive on a pretty day" car, I might feel differently.  He's not, though; his entire raison d'ĂȘtre was to provide an economical means for getting to and from work without running up the mileage on our "good" cars.  I cheated a little bit with the selection of a Miata for that task since it was really only useful for 3/4s of the year, but there was a little trade-off for having a car that helped to make the normally onerous commute enjoyable.

So, here we are. It doesn't make any economic sense to repair Ernesto. He is to be sold off to the highest bidder, and it is questionable as to whether his role as "enjoyable ride" will be filled with another vehicle. There are a few reasons why a replacement may not be possible: 1) I'm leery of buying another fifteen year old Miata lest a similar mechanical situation arise, 2) I can't afford a newer Miata, 3) the only other affordable convertible (a convertible being an immutable requirement) I like would be a 2004-ish Ford Mustang (appox. $8,000 - $10,000) and it has a six cylinder engine, which flies in the face of the "economical" requirement, and 4) the mileage on the "good" car has reached a level where the idea of keeping it low seems silly.  So, it comes down to whether I need a sports-ish car, or whether this is more a case of wanting a sports-ish car.

The saddest thing about all of this??

It's the fact that "need" has entered into my financial lexicon.

I'm not sure how or when that happened, but there it is. I'm not sure which is the more depressing, the loss of the Miata, or the realization that I might not be able to talk myself into replacing it.

2004 Ford Mustang - asking $9,850  (18 city / 27 highway)

Work on the RV-12 slowed again this week both because of all of the other unrelated work that has been piling up and because the next step, as with the last, requires a fairly big commitment of time. Van's says three hours. I believe them.

I met with Pete today for a brief preparatory session. The next job is more fiberglassing - this time we will be laying down thin strips of glass across the area where the canopy bubble meets the forward top fuselage. The preparation came down to cutting ten 36" long strips of various widths, ranging from 2 3/4" wide down to an absurdly narrow 1/4" wide.

We would have gone ahead with the epoxy work too, but it was only 50 degrees in the hangar and the West Systems 206 hardener I bought requires at least 60 degrees to work properly. We're hoping that it gets warm enough later in the day to proceed.

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