“We found caring, nurturing behavior that we don’t usually see in our consumer throw-away society,” Sirianni said. “People would buy special wax or only take it to the best shop, like a new mother and her baby, only going to the best pediatrician in town.”
She said car marketers needed to take heed of people like us. “A lot of companies haven’t thought about this — they treat their more passionate consumers like they’re weirdos, and that’s a huge, huge mistake,” she said. “Subaru is just beginning to tap into it, with their ‘Do you remember your first love?’ commercials showing a guy driving a new Subaru, but his old one is still parked in the driveway.”
Debby Ames, who lives in Bethesda, had never thought about why she has held onto her red 1987 BMW 325ic convertible, a car she loves so much that she has dropped thousands into repairs, as I did. When a speeding ticket arrived in the mail not long ago, she promptly paid the $40 fine, then proudly hung the photo of herself and her convertible on the fridge because they both looked so good.
“I have become the car,” she said. “Truthfully, you’d have to call a psychologist to figure out why.”
I pressed her.
“I don’t do change well?” she ventured.
I pressed some more.
She sighed. “I guess it’s because I got the car when the kids were young and we were a family,” said Ames, who has since divorced. “And I wanted to be a family more than anything. It was the family car.”
* * *
When it came time to clean out my Volvo, all of the dog-eared maps in the glove compartment, the Mad Libs, coloring books, games and plastic McDonald’s Happy Meal toys — like the orange hand-clapper that my kids used when they wanted to drive me crazy — in the pockets in the back seat, I called the service station where it had been towed. I found out that the car already had been taken to Baltimore, where it would be sold with other salvaged cars at an insurance auction.
As I readied to go to Baltimore the next day, my 11-year-old son, Liam, asked whether he could go with me.