The Wide Angle: Good-bye Sunfire. Enjoy your retirement

Published 10:07 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

In 2005 I bought my first vehicle in Austin and in just a couple days after you read this, it will be gone.

I will be bidding a fond farewell to my 2005 Pontiac Sunfire.

It should be known right off the bat that I’m not a sentimental guy when it comes to vehicles. I don’t name them and it rarely is a “he” or a “she.” And I’m not much of car brand guy.

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However, now that I”m this close to trading in my Pontiac Sunfire, I find myself in tha sentimental state of mind I just said I don’t normally fall into.

I’ve had three Sunfires in my life. From the very beginning it was an affordable answer to the question on whether I could afford a Camaro or something else sporty.

Quick answer, I’ve never been in a position to buy a Camaro, just in case you were wondering.

I knew the Sunfire’s limitations, however. It got to 60 mph kind of when it wanted to and corned at times like a brick, but I could live with that.

The Sunfire is sharp and angular; low to the ground and kind of fierce-looking in its own mild-manner way.

The first Sunfire I owned was bright red and the third was black, complete with a sunroof. The third is the blue one I have now and when I look at it now, especially this week, I’ve had to question every so often my decision to trade it away.

To be honest, it’s ready. The seats are faded, there are leaks of fluids in questionable places and you can tell exactly which side gets the sun the most when parked at home. The peel protective layer and spots of rust are dead giveaways.

I hope Buster hasn’t gotten too attached.

However, during the time I’ve owned it, it’s been ridiculously reliable. Of the three vehicles, I can recall only about four or five major issues with hefty repair price tags and one of those was a nearly $500 tow back from the rest stop north of Faribault. And that was simply caused by a $15 belt snapping. Fate, thou art a cruel mistress.

It’s been through some fairly normal repairs, but I’ve never really worried about how it would fair as it got older except for this old guy.

I’ve never had a Sunfire this long, but this one in particular has been so good. Granted, we don’t take it out of town anymore. At over 150,000 miles, it’s just not worth the risk anymore, especially with its various leaks and odd-sounding noises. It’s kind of like putting a race horse to pasture. It’s put in its work, lets just give it some time.

Another reason I’m a tad tentative of letting it go is how fantastic it was in the winter.

I asked the low-sitting Sunfire to do an awful lot during the time I’ve owned it, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it could have bullied through deep snow. Sure, it has its limits. Twelve inches or more things start getting questionable.

But up until that it was a dream. Unlike the Focus I drive now that slides or slogs through two inches of dry snow.

For the longest time I was concerned about how the Sunfire deals with snow and I never really understood how it did it. I figured the angular front end of the car had something to do with it. It was almost like the designer thought about snow conditions when sketching it out. Low to the ground with a front that pinches to a point in front, the Sunfire slices through snow.

I’ve been stuck in snow a handful of times driving the Sunfire, but only because I couldn’t get up enough momentum to get it going. That was a problem.

The Sunfire required momentum, but once it got rolling and provided you didn’t have to adhere to the pesky idea of  stopping, the car would just roll through the drifts.

I can confess that I’ve probably even smiled while driving through these conditions.

A few months ago, I kind of figured out another piece of that puzzle — why it was so good at this. During a period of cold we couldn’t get it to start and needed to get it off the road into the driveway. The alternative was pushing and with the help of our sportswriter Rocky and his brother Christopher — who was kind of enough to sacrifice a part of his Saturday visiting Rocky to help in the noble cause of pushing a car up an inclined drive way in single-digit temperatures.

What we noticed is that for a vehicle of a rather small stature as the Sunfire, it was remarkably heavy. It just didn’t want to move and the dimly lit bulb in the back of my mind went off.

Once you got that weight rolling, then the blade-like front of the car did the rest. I just kind of shook my head.

Yes I feel a little sad letting it go, but it’s time. Janeen, my girlfriend, will get a better car in the Ford Focus as I bring home the new Escape.

The mid-sized SUV will help with a variety of things. We have bikes we want to take places, I want to get around better in the snow and we just need peace-of-mind of driving vehicles that haven’t been around since the end of beginning of time.

Still, I can look fondly on a vehicle that has been an amazing car for me. Kind of like the end of an era.

No, no. That’s just dust in my eye.