The Marine View Driver: Cruising With the Chevy Celebrity (RIP)


In which the author finally has to send his gift horse to the glue factory.

by Mike Smith

Our youngest daughter used to borrow the Celebrity occasionally to go on dates with her fiancé Aaron. Several times they lost the keys or locked their keys in the car while on a date and I had to go help them out. Fortunately I never had to go more than 10 or 12 miles to get to them.

As bad as they felt whenever they called, I secretly kind of enjoyed it. I felt gallant and heroic, plus I think it helped my future son-in-law feel more a part of the family.

celebrityWhen they finally married, they lived in a basement apartment in a friend’s home. They borrowed the car occasionally to run errands. Often they would keep the car over the weekend or for several days. They lived in a pretty good neighborhood—the newly-minted city of Seatac—and simply parked the Celebrity on the street.

There was a bus stop in front of the house… but, you know—sometimes you need a car.

The Chevy was, yes, stolen from the street in front of our daughter’s house one day. I guess a Celebrity attracts attention in Seatac!

Imagine how Aaron and Kayla hated to call us. We weren’t too alarmed, though, as this was hardly the first time we’d had a car stolen, and the police seemed to find our cars right away. This time was no different.

Within 24 hours the car was located and towed to an impound yard. I got a call from the police that the car had been recovered and had been only driven a few miles. Apparently, when people in Seatac don’t have bus fare, they steal a car to get to “work.”

I called the storage yard, which turned out to be more of a wrecking yard than anything else, but they had a tow truck, a fence and a contract with the police. So I guess that is all you need. I called and discussed with the manager on duty when I should come down to drive my car home.

During this phone call I was assured that the car was driveable. Of course, since this was a wrecking yard, we were not sure what might happen. My prior and limited experience with wrecking yards was several acres of mud and car parts and car skeletons. I was suspicious; what would a guy surrounded by dead and mutilated cars think “driveable” actually was?

Optimistically, we drove down with my spare key and a check book in case there were any additional charges. Cautiously, we agreed that my wife would wait for me to drive the car out of the compound, and I brought my title.

It appears that in wrecking-yard circles, a driveable vehicle does not need the following components:

  • Four fully inflated tires: All four of ours were flat. But the spare was missing so that kept us from having five flat tires.
  • Windows: They were all broken out. But the front windshield was intact so I guess it was road-legal.
  • A steering wheel: Ours was lying on the floor and the steering column was bent at a 45-degree angle. In order to actually drive this “driveable” car, I would have had to somehow figure out how to secure the steering wheel to the column then learn to steer with my feet.

The one thing that was intact was the original color. That had not been altered at all. But broken as they were, all the parts were still attached. Apparently cars with parts still in their originally installed location make for a drivable unit.

We left the car in their hands. I signed the title over to them and rode unceremoniously back home.

What an ignominious end for a Celebrity.

Aside from driving to Montana, having keys made, paying a tow bill from the insurance deductible, and standard maintenance, though, this car turned out to be one of our more economical decisions!

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