Walt: In Memory of My 1987 Oldsmobile [2013-2018]

This post is dedicated to Walt, my second car. (A 1987 Cutlass Ciera Oldsmobile, if you wanted to know.)

The History of Walt: My Oldsmobile

My first car was some 2001 Nissan Spectra or something like that. Nothing special, just a very old car with a billion miles on it and the kind of thing a poor kid gets when they get their license and the family really needs them to be able to run errands.

But after a couple years, it was clear that we didn’t have enough vehicles at home. My grandfather had a van to use, my mother had a car to use, and I had a car to use, but my father bounced between vehicles and didn’t end up having one for a while.

This led to Walt.

A 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera in the year 2013…

This is a normal, relatively well-kept up car of the same model and year:

1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera

But this was Walt, by the end:

1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera

My cousins bought him (Walt is a he/him) a few years earlier from some old woman who only ever used it to drive to church and back. So it had practically zero miles on it even after 25 years. My cousins used him a fair bit, then when our household’s car predicament became an issue, they decided to sell him for real cheap, since it was a super old car and everything.

With Walt in my care, I now had not only a car, but a legacy. Walt was my precious child, a car so ancient and yet so pristine.

Then over the next five years he fell to pieces.

Walt’s Struggle

1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
Walt and his evil twin behind him

I had to drive about 5 hours each way to get to and from my university, so every trip I took was extremely costly to the car’s functionality.

When I took my extremely long trip to see Madoka Magica: The Rebellion in December 2013, I racked up something around 15 hours of driving in a weekend, which Walt did not enjoy. On the way back home, his radiator or something broke, and he took a few hours sitting at a gas station for my Dad to come and help fix him.

Then, early in 2014 was the infamous Polar Vortex—a cold snap that wreaked havoc on the Eastern seaboard. Despite living in the Deep South, that January would see temperatures as low as -5 F (-20 C). Walt’s coolant actually froze over and broke the whole thing (not enough antifreeze…? I don’t understand car stuff). So I went back to university carless for most of my second semester there.

Fun…

I finally got it back and drove with Walt when I could, but… his failures became more and more egregious as time went on. Perhaps driving a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera in the mid-2010s was a poor idea.

Walt’s Quick Demise

His alternator (or something) broke and the battery was always failing. I had to ditch watching Boyhood one time because my car just broke down right after leaving my driveway. Then, for years afterwards, he had a problem where sometimes he would turn completely off once it reached idling. Absolutely terrifying sometimes.

Apparently, this model was a very difficult car to repair, too. It had one of the first onboard computer on any car, which was probably cool at the time, but circa 2014 that meant the repair shop needed to special order equipment to be able to interface with it.

The radio/CD player, which my Dad haphazardly installed one day as a surprise, reset its settings every single time it turned off, thanks to this. The passenger seatbelt eventually stopped pulling correctly. The plastic lever to adjust the wipers broke off, and I had to use a pair of pliers to move it from then on. But those were comparatively minors issue compared to all the other failures.

After I went to Japan and Seattle in 2016-2018, I left Walt behind and he went mostly unused. Sitting out so long, barely used, made it fare even worse, and while I drove him a few times when I was in my hometown, he was basically dead by the time I moved back in Fall 2018. Walt was sold to a different old person who fixed him up a little bit. Allegedly sometimes friends see it on the road, his rusty gray top still left untouched.

Goodbye, old friend…

Walt’s Legacy

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I captured the ultimate moment

Friends and family still fondly remember Walt, the way-too-old car that barely worked. I do too.

Knowing this ancient Oldsmobile was not built to last, I featured Walt prominently in Barty’s Brew-Ha-Ha 4: Legend of the Tale of the Crystal Chubacabra. It was a blast making that movie and the shitty car helped enhance the experience even further.

Walt was barely reliable and broke constantly. He cost much more money in repairs than a newer car would have, and his final failure left me carless for my entire time in my hometown in 2018. But I still love him anyway.

Goodbye, Walt. You may or may not still exist, but you will always exist in my heart.

I should have bought a new car, shouldn’t I? Well, there’s a lot of other stuff I considered doing and didn’t. Read that blog post too!

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