Pictured in 2012
Here it is, my first car. The 1999 Mercury Sable LS Wagon. You will notice from now on that my love for this thing is pretty absurd (no, not to the extent of the man with the orange Monte Carlo). I grew up with this car.
I took this picture after giving the engine bay a thorough cleaning
Anyway, my mind being young and impressionable, my love for this car was quickly cemented. This car was in the background of nearly childhood memory - rides to the store, to the park, or watching Dad come home from work every day. My father taught me basic maintenance such as oil and filter changes and raised me in a way to appreciate everything I had. We kept the interior of the car spotless and even today, it looks brand new inside. My first life goal was to drive this car during high school. Long story short, that was accomplished. The one thing that prevented me from becoming a teenage speed demon during that time was my commitment to give this car a long life.
Notice the dual exhaust - it 's actually a single pipe that splits below the trunk but this makes the '96-'99 model one of the very few nice-sounding V6 cars you can buy. The best sounding, in my opinion.
The engine itself could have taken the abuse. It's hella tough (lives up to the Duratec name) and was offered in many Ford vehicles until 2012, as well as in 400+ hp, twin-turbo form in supercars like the Noble M12, M15, M400, and the Rossion Q1. Mine still performs like it's brand new after almost 140,000 Michigan miles. Many other things though, such as the undercarriage, suspension, and transmission were known weak points on the Taurus. I've seen many with rockers that were completely rusted away and mine just recently joined that club despite holding out a few years longer. More on that later. My suspension and shock towers are still in good shape but the transmission has been on its way out for oh, maybe six years. Michigan is making some modifications to the car and it's not even close to being done (Yeah, I know I say Michigan a lot but it's a big deal to me).
Relegated to outdoor parking since 2007, here it is in January 2013 after my hospital stay. That poor thing.
For a long time, I told myself that I'd keep this car for my whole life. The wealth of car knowledge that I gathered over the years gave me the skill to do several minor repairs necessitated by Michigan or by other people. I have enough knowledge and love for this car to keep it running indefinitely if no other factors were to play in. Sadly, that is not the case. Although my family considers this car to be mine and treats it as such, it's still technically registered under my dad's name. That means he can do whatever he wants with it, including trading it in. Practicality always trumps emotion for him (I've always thought this was the main difference between him, an engineer, and me, an architecture student). I'm tempted to say this car has never let my family down because the failed brake line and radiator hose were caused by Michigan salt, but fact is fact. As cars get older, repairs add up and despite my age, my parents retain control over my life including the decision to buy the car and fix it when my dad doesn't want it anymore. We'll just have to see what happens in the coming years.