My 2006 Kia Spectra, a.k.a. “The Spec” Is Dead…RIP August 31, 2006 – July 3, 2012

My daily driver was an 2006 Kia Spectra EX (formally known as the New Spectra, since it had replaced the “old” Spectra midway through the 2004 model year). An old friend of mine had dubbed it “The Spec”, and the name stuck with me ever since. I also referred to it as “Gerry”, since it looked like a gerbil. Between this and the Kia Soul, as well as older cars having the “mouse fur” headliners and visors, one has to speculate as to whether or not someone high up in the food chain has an obsession with rodents.

I purchased my car on August 31, 2006. I recall this day rather well, as I had took some time off from work to help purchase a car for my (now) ex’s daughter. Long story short, I wound up purchasing the car, and after a series of events that led from her driving it, to my ex driving it…it eventually landed in my lap in December of 2007, with 33K miles on the clock.

At the time, I also had an 2001 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series, with 104K miles. I knew that the time would come that I would have to start replacing major components like the air suspension system, the air conditioning control panel, and the power window regulators. Since The Spec was still under warranty (I had purchased an extended warranty), and didn’t need two cars at the time, I decided to get rid of the Town Car, and keep the Spec as my daily driver. It was tough letting go of the Town Car, because I had been driving full-size luxury cars for the past eight years, but I was looking forward to driving something different.

And the Spec was about as different as I could get.

The timing could not have been more perfect, as gas prices were beginning their climb to historic highs in 2008. What once costs me to fill up my Town Car back then, now costs me the same to fill up the Spec, even though it has a smaller tank. I felt like it was a wise strategic move on my part, and I never really felt the pain that most people did at the pump.

I quickly became accustomed to the tossable, go-kart like handling of the car, and it rode reasonable smooth. Of course, “downgrading” to an economy car meant that I had to do without some luxuries such as auto-off headlights, a premium sound system (I had an Alpine sound system in the Town Car), and cruise control, it more than made up in the handling, and the low cost of owning and maintaining the vehicle. Plus, I felt like it was a true reflection of my life in general, having to downsize and start all over again.

Over the next five and a half years, I’ve enjoyed the vehicle, having driven all over the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, as well as numerous in-state trips, and even the longest trip that I’ve ever taken…an 23-hour roundtrip from Fort Worth, Texas, to Lincoln, Nebraska. I really wondered if my right ankle (broken in a freak tree-climbing accident back in high school) would be up for the trip, but I eventually figured out how to position my foot just so, so that it would take the pressure off of it. I figured this out somewhere around Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Along the way, it has reliably taken me to and from work, moved various items during my eight moves since I’ve had the car, and been there for me through all of the major events in my life (breakups, layoffs, new jobs/places to live, new relationships, marriage, etc.).

That all came to an end on July 3, 2012.

I was coming home from dropping off my buddy, after a hard day’s work of doing some landscaping for one of our clients. I was passing through downtown Fort Worth, and just crossed over a major intersection, when I noticed that a car was traveling at a high rate of speed on the intersecting street. I watched her intently, and when I quickly realised that she wasn’t going to stop after she had crossed over the crosswalk, I immediately slammed on my brakes and braced for impact.

This was the end result:

Luckily, the fire department, paramedics, and the police department arrived within minutes…thankfully, I was downtown, and not out in the country. The police were the last ones to show up, because they were on bikes. Everyone was thorough in their duties, and the police handled the investigation without me having to gather the necessary information. All in all, it went smoothly.

I did get a chance to talk to the driver that I hit…turns out that she was distracted by a fight that she had with her boyfriend. Once she looked up and realised that the light was red, it was moments later that I had hit her. Thankfully, she’s ok as well.

I did suffer some abrasions on my forearms as a result of the airbag deploying, but they seem to be healing up just fine. Also, I had some soreness/tightness in my neck, shoulders, and back from the whiplash, but that’s getting better as well. I should be able to start working out next week.

In the meantime, I have this to drive around, until the insurance companies hash out the logistics of the insurance settlement:

 

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