In 1990, a silver Volvo 240 carrying three female REALTORS® on their way to a training seminar was run off the road near Peoria, IL. The vehicle rolled over several times and came to rest on the roof. The women opened the doors crawled out, bruised and shaken, but alive. I was one of the passengers.
As I stood by the crumpled car, I promised myself that I would have one of my own very soon. Four months later, I took delivery on a deep wine-colored Volvo 240 of my own. It had heated front seats (a great treat in an Illinois winter), a roomy trunk that I could latch without locking, and a solidity that soothed my mind when I drove in Chicago area traffic. The boxy construction reminded me of a shoebox on wheels. Within a day or two, my car revealed that his name was Sven and he was my knight in wine-colored steel armor.
He was a delight. I could put my real estate signs in the trunk with room to spare, and leave the trunk unlocked as I put out directional signs for an open house. Clients appreciated the safety factor of touring properties from the safety of a Volvo. And oh, those heated front seats! All of my fellow agents wanted to ride with me for broker tour and they would argue about who got the front passenger seat with the “bun warmer.”
Over the years, Sven covered a lot of real estate and not all of it in the line of duty. While I showed property all over DuPage county with him, I also traveled to Muskegon, MI for a real estate class, took my mother to Indiana’s Amish country, Wisconsin and Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Niagara Falls. Sven and I made several trips back and forth to New Orleans for family visits and a couple of trips to Missouri as well.
When I accepted a position as a trainer with the local Multiple Listing Service vendor, Sven covered even more of northeastern Illinois. We commuted to locations ranging from the Illinois-Wisconsin border area to the south side of Chicago and from Lake Michigan to the Fox Valley with occasional trips as far west as Rockford and Sandwich. My faithful Sven kept going with just regularly scheduled maintenance service along the way.
Through snow and ice and rain and sun, he ran without a problem. When I went through a divorce, I carried my belongings in Sven, packing him as full as any pickup truck between the huge trunk and the generous seats. I bought new bedding and carried it home strapped to his roof because it couldn’t be delivered by the company for several days. When I adopted a miniature schnauzer from the humane society, he brought her home for me and cheerfully carried the two of us wherever we chose to go.
Through the years, new models came out, but none appealed to me as much as my darling Sven. I loved being able to see where he began in front and ended in back without trying to guess, thanks to his square-ish design. I loved the feel of his steel body and solid ride. I have enjoyed vehicles before, but never has one so totally stolen my heart as Sven. I adored him.
In 2001, Sven saved me when a commercial pickup truck broadsided us. The driver was turning left on a circular green. He caught us on the driver’s side, just behind the front door. Sven required extensive repair to the door and rear fender. When the adjuster totaled up the costs, I was afraid that the insurance company would total Sven. But no, he had held his value well and they repaired him, replacing the passenger door and other parts and giving my beloved back to me.
Sven and I continued our travels. But he was different now, with a little intermittent rattle that hadn’t been there before, an occasional clunking that was new. Although we were over the 100,000-mile mark, I began to fear that my dream of a 1,000,000-mile medallion wouldn’t come true. Little things started to fail, then progressively bigger things quit.
In late 2008, my dear Sven quit. His noble motor failed to start and I realized that there was nothing I could do to keep him going. Perhaps if I had the skills to rebuild him I could have saved him, but alas, my skills run more to cooking and needlework than automotive work.
Painful as it was, I had to let him go. I donated Sven to a local charitable organization, so that my knight could perform one last act of gallantry. There were tears as the tow truck carried him away and even now, as I write of him. I will never forget him, and every other vehicle I ever drive will be measured against dependable, durable Sven-the best car I ever owned.