I drive a 2003 Toyota Matrix XRS.
That’s what it looked like last year just after I bought it, still shiny and clean from the dealer’s detailing. It replaced a red base model 2003 Matrix that I wrecked on the National Road in Ohio. My red Matrix had been a sedate performer but I liked it anyway because it hauled me, the kids, the dog, and a weekend’s luggage with room to spare. So I was really happy to find another Matrix, and even happier that it was the top-line model with a much more powerful engine. No more struggling up hills and praying when trying to pass! I was also glad that this Matrix was painted Cosmic Blue (Toyota’s name for this color), as I never liked it much that my old one was red.
I have had the worst luck with the finish on this car, though. Paint has cracked and is chipping off several large areas across my front bumper. Every place this is happening corresponds to a place where there was some impact. Someone backed into me in a parking lot about a year ago, and then I slid into someone on an icy road last winter, and a month or so ago in traffic someone’s hubcap flew off their car and struck my bumper. I’ve had low-speed impacts like these with other cars I’ve owned and have come away with not so much as a scratch. I kind of wonder now whether this bumper is original to the car – a replacement bumper and a poor quality paint job perhaps? Fortunately, I guess, the previous owner sent along a bra he bought for the car. I think bras look dorky, but it looks a heck of a lot better than what’s underneath it.
But that’s not all. Clearcoat is peeling off in several spots on the back bumper. A pass through an automatic car wash, one I’ve used for years, noticeably scratched and abraded the hood and roof. And then last weekend while backing into my driveway I scraped the rear bumper against a stack of paving bricks I removed from the ends of my driveway last year but have yet to use or pitch.
Having my car repainted would be a waste of money – it’s 7 years old and has 114,000 miles on it. So I am trying to accept the fact that I’m driving a car whose best looks have passed. I’m just trying to take what pleasures I can from it. My favorite is that satisfying feeling of my back sinking into my seat a little when I stomp on the gas to pass somebody. Now that is pure joy.
The slowest car I’ve had was a 1983 Renault Alliance. That car didn’t have enough power to get out of its own way. Read its story.