A 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was the last automobile my father owned. I helped him buy it. I also helped him buy his second to last car he ever owned, a 1986 Buick LeSabre. He swore THAT car would be his last but I rolled my eyes less when we bought the Ciera because his health was deteriorating. Much like a parent knows when their kids are ill before they do, as we get older, we develop a keen sense that something's not right when our parents are not well.
Buying "that last car" for an aging parent can be difficult. In my case the process made even more difficult because my relationship with my father was challenging at best and at times extremely difficult. There were a couple of times I didn't speak to him for a couple of years on end. I decided to help my father with this purchase because I felt it was simply the right thing to do. You somehow manage to put aside all differences when God deals you a certain card or two.
Dad somehow, someway fried the transmission on the LeSabre and he was faced with a $2500 repair bill on a car that was worth maybe $500. What's more he had thrown a rod on the usually indestructible GM 3.8 liter V-6 engine. Combined with the broken tranny, Dad was looking at more than 5 grand in repair work. I took that wobbly, dark red beater to the scrap yard and collected $50 cash from the junk man and used it as a down payment on dad's next victim, a black '87 Olds Cutlass Ciera coupe I found for less than $2000. It had power steering, brakes, windows and most importantly (to me), the optional 2.8 liter V-6 (complete with multi port fuel injection!) instead of the awful "Iron Duke" 4 cylinder. Dad was delighted when I gave him the keys to it. You'd swear he'd won the lottery. He jumped in, threw his "old man fedora" in the back seat and peeled out. He thought the car a rocket.
GM popped out these cars like movie theaters pop popcorn. Gazillons (slight exaggeration) of them between 1982 and 1996. And there's a reason they did; the Ciera along with her cousins the Chevy Celebrity, Buick Century and Pontiac 6000 are decent cars. I wouldn't have steered my father in the direction of one if I thought differently. This particularly clean specimen looks to be a 1992 vintage. Not a spec of rust on her and she's a coupe just like my father's.
When my father passed away my brothers and I had the arduous task of cleaning out our child hood home. Dad saved everything. I mean, every. Thing. The house wasn't as bad as what you would see on an episode of hoarders but it was chock full of 'momentos'. It took us two and half days and two dumpsters to get it all out.
The Cutlass Ciera sat out in the garage. In the back seat of the car sat my dad's hat. I wished that I had some poignant father-son memory to reflect on at that moment but I didn't. All I could think of was how happy he was the day he got that car.
I told my brothers I'd take care of selling the car and we'd split the money.
I kept the hat.