Ever since he’d bought his first car, a dilapidated ’46 Plymouth, Evan had taken immense pride in the feeding and grooming of his automobiles. If he hadn’t shepherded a car to the very end of its useful life, it was a personal failure. So the ’46 had lasted two years longer than it should have, followed by a brand-new Packard that outlived its brand by a considerable margin and a Ford that, when given to Evan’s son, was old enough to be considered retro hip.

He met his match, though, in the Vega.

Evan had always maintained two or more cars, but in the 70’s he expanded the garage and bought a Chevrolet Vega Panel Express, intending to use it to quickly dart into town for groceries or to move small items between the construction sites where he was foreman. From the beginning, it was a difficult match: the Vega blew its first transmission scarcely a year later, even as the salt-lined roads of the Midwest took a fearsome toll on the car’s underbody. Scarcely two years after it had been delivered,i t began leaking oil everywhere it was possible to leak, and ate through cylinder walls in the engine at an alarming rate.

Gamely, Evan attacked each of the problems as it arose, either by himself or with the help of friends. Empty Bondo containers piled up in the garage as the bodywork grew more and more rusted; Vegas that came into Sal’s junkyard were ruthlessly scavenged for cheap parts. As spare parts and oils can’s accumulated in the garage, Evan refused to concede defeat; his wife Sandy could only shake her head and mutter about how that machine was nothing but lubricated discord.

She didn’t know the half of it.

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