1992 Plymouth Sundance

This was the only *brand new car* I’ve ever bought. And after putting 110K miles on it in only 5 years, it ended up being the toughest car my (now ex-)wife ever killed.

Equipped with a 2.5 liter non-turbo engine, 5 speed manual trans, Electric Blue exterior, grey interior, and a Am/FM/auto-reverse cassette radio….. and nothing else. It was a great daily driver when my son was young making many trips from Idaho to Sacramento and back.

The first accident that my (now ex-)wife got in was just a minor fender-bender. I replaced the fender with one from Pick & Pull, replaced the left headlamp assembly, and glued the plastic grill back together. I told her “If you’re going to wreck the car, do me a favor and TOTAL it, that way I won’t have to fix it; and if you can, make it their fault, that way they can buy me a new car“. (Ya know, it took her 8 tries?!?) I bought a quart of paint but it was winter and the weather was not cooperating with me, so it stayed in primer.

The 2nd accident was a little worse – she rear ended a concrete truck. She cut the wheel to the right and hit the brakes, so the nose dove down and the rear frame rail of the truck crunched diagonally across the hood, left lower corner of the windshield, and the left door edge. I fixed the door edge, Bondo’ed the hood and replaced the windshield. I looked at that quart of paint and figured I could stretch it out just enough to cover both repairs. Weather permitting, of course.

The 3rd wreck happened one weekend when I wasn’t home. She had left our 8 year old son at home, watch TV and eating cereal, while she went up to the country store for donuts. On her way home, she swerved to miss an animal that was crossing the road. The car spun around and went sideways up through a T-bar fence. She walked the rest of the way home (1/4 mile) and called her dad to bring his beater tow-truck (which damaged the front end even more). When I got home Sunday night, I saw the car sitting in the driveway; passenger side with 3 vertical damage lines, the battery tray had broken and both front tires had been pushed off the rims. I bungee-ed the battery in place and got the front tires to hold air. She said we needed to get a new car and I told her she needed to stop wrecking the car we have.

The 4th (and final) wreck happened in downtown Sacramento. She was sitting at a red traffic light and there was a guy on a 10 speed bike sitting in the lane to her right. The light turned green and she pulled forward. The guy on the bike put one foot up and was just getting ready to go when BLAMMO!!! a little old lady in an old Torino blew through the red light, crossed an inch in front of the bike, and hit the Sundance on the passenger fender, caving the frame rail all the way into the engine. The car spun around 270 degrees, the air bag deployed (slamming her left hand from the steering wheel to her own face) and the center console struck her right thigh (turning it purple the next day). The lady’s insurance gave us $3400, I swapped the new tires onto the other car we had, then I swapped the radio into a friend’s Acclaim. One call to Pick & Pull got me another $500 for the remains. I split the money with her and that was the last straw for our already struggling relationship.


About hemibill

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