By Phile Wilke
For the Bulletin
Dodge Intrepid SE died recently in El Paso, Texas, from terminal cooling system failure. He was 15.
“Red,” as he was affectionately known, lived a long and full life. He was on the verge of rolling over to 190,000 miles and had been in the family since 40,000 miles. Red was comfortable cruising at 75, but in his youth could crank it up to 110. His beauty had faded over the years (hasn’t all of ours though?), however he was a trouper until the end.
He had recently survived a bout of broken right-front tie rods. His powertrain was solid and reliable, but his cooling system had been ill for some time and his oil seals had seen tighter days. Frankly, it was just a matter of time, but that doesn’t make his passing any less sad.
Red was an experienced vehicle, having earned three moving violations, been involved with two fender-benders and suffered far more flat tires than you’d think would be statistically possible. Countless meals were eaten in him (I’m sure there are still a dozen petrified French fries under the seats), clothes were changed in the back seat, friends were taken to the hospital in the middle of the night, children were dropped off at college and he only broke down close to home, except that one time in Amarillo that was really, really inconvenient.
Survivors include his driver, Phil Wilke, of the home; two daughters, who are frankly relieved they won’t be handed down the vehicle; the good lads at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics, who kept him going far longer than anyone expected; and hundreds of satisfied passengers.
Mourners include the Anti-Freeze/Coolant Manufacturers Association of America; the Quart-by-Quart Generic Motor Oil Association; the good lads at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics, who made several boat payments because of Red; and flocks and flocks of flatulent pigeons who seemed to relish pooping on him at every occasion.
Red was a veteran of many road trips, including a dozen from Lawrence, Kan., to Austin and Houston, Texas; two trips to Formula 1 races; hundreds of outings from Lawrence to Kansas City; thousands of journeys to Conroy’s Pub for Wednesday night trivia, and a cross-country trip to bring his driver to a new job in a new city for a new adventure.
Known by many names, including “POS,” “VIN2B3HD46R12H192369” and “Where Did I Park It,” Red donated his body to Vehicles for Charity for the benefit KRWG Public Media. His carcass will be picked over for parts so that other vehicles may live longer and happier lives.
No services are planned, but the family will receive sales representatives at several used car lots. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions the Wilke New Car Fund, in care of the author.
Rest in Peace, Red Dodge Intrepid. There will always be a piece of me with you…literally. One of my name badges from work slipped into a crack in the dashboard and is now floating around in the guts of the car somewhere.
Red, may all your cooling system and oil gasket leaks be plugged somewhere in automotive heaven, where oil changes are always 15 minutes or less, there are no speed limits, you can run and play with Jaguars and Porsches, and no one ever gets a flat tire.
Phil Wilke is a recent transplant to Las Cruces, a new car owner and freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.