Unable to come up with a better word for it, stewardship came to mind. Among other things it means "the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving." Do the various cars, trucks and motorcycles that I have fall under the definition of stewardship? I think they might. It takes some work and organization to keep them all in good order, or at least the ones that currently run. Like a hoarder of anything, there is a critical point where hoarding exceeds the capacity to practice good stewardship. I’m almost there.
This past weekend I took yet another vehicle under my wing. It is a Volvo 240 sedan. I do these things to spread the mileage out over several vehicles to keep the miles lower on my primary car, the 2013 Crosstrek. Each vehicle has a purpose, and I have yet to find one that can do everything you’d want from a car or truck. Until they market a modular vehicle that can transform into a 3/4 ton truck, a sports car, a family car and a collectible luxury car, I’m going to stay with the fleet concept. I haven’t run out of places to store al this stuff yet, but at this point I think I have reached capacity.
The Volvo was a great find. It’s a rust free fuel injected four cylinder with heated seats, mirrors and air conditioning, all working as designed. While I found this car in Maine, it spent ninety nine percent of its life in central New Jersey. I’ve had a number of good used cars that came from those latitudes, and they’ve all been rust free. The last European model was a five series BMW that was absolutely pristine regardless of the fact that it had a boatload of miles on it. I ran it only in the summer. I lent it to my oldest daughter and her French boyfriend and told them not to travel more than fifty miles in any direction. After a trip to NYC, another to Quebec City, another to Washington, D.C., another to Maine, and yet another to Montreal, I sold the thing right out from under her in an effort to put a stop to the flagrant flogging of said Bimmer. She got the old Chevy S-10 pick-up back that I had personally restored for her college years, and she was none too happy about it. Oh well.
Rather than haul my tribe of grandchildren around in my 3/4 ton pickup that gets lousy gas mileage, I went for the Volvo, because it is stout enough to haul my fishing boat and all the kids. The previous owner had taken very good care of Olaf (with a nod to writer Warren Weith, a devout lover of Volvo’s) as I have started calling him, and under my stewardship I hope to do no harm to my Swedish friend. He is already getting a bit of bling in the form of two Hella FF700 driving lights and some new door pockets, as his are missing. I might even spring for some seat covers because his original upholstery is as close to pristine as you can get, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Olaf is the second Volvo that I have owned. The first I possessed for about three hours. About 15 miles into owning it the electrical wiring went, well, haywire. We had a dinner date that evening at my mother’s, we were already there so we enjoyed the meal, then hustled back to the dealer who was still open to return the offending wagon. They took it back no questions asked. Evidently someone knew more about it than I did before I drove it off that lot. That experience did not dampen my enthusiasm for eventually having a Volvo. It only took another thirty years to make it happen.
Looking forward, my entire summer of 2014 is being planned around automotive stewardship. Some of my charges will be sold on, some will be recalled to active duty, and at least two will remain in cold storage until such time that I am ready to focus on them solely. This is a dynamic fleet that changes with the times to suit specific needs. For me it is all about the vehicles performing their assigned duties, and when I am done using them I part with them wishing each and every one the very best for the future. To me, that’s the stewardship I am always attempting to practice.
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.