For those who know me well, I am more than just a gear head. For a car that I really “connect” with there becomes a bond, just a strong as with any pet, but much more so since the car and I experience many things together.
The Dodge Intrepid was a car I was enthralled with from the first one I ever saw at a car show. There aren’t many sedans that come along sporting such sleek good looks while still boasting generous interior room and a spacious trunk. The icing on the cake was the fact that this capable people hauler still aspired to be a sports car, with handling and performance that left other sedans in its class blushing with envy.
My first Intrepid was white with grey interior, and unfortunately was an accident magnet. After an insane deer pummeled the driver’s side, a scant few months later a young female driver backed into the same doors and crunched the poor car once again. Financial issues finally forced me to sell that car but the Intrepid mystique lived on in my heart.
After meeting Trish on-line ,we had finally had our first face to face day together. A couple of months later I was set to make the trip all the way to New York where she lived. I was skeptical about the reliability of the Ford Taurus I owned at the time when my good friend Joe Burton chimed in. You see Joe had purchased an Intrepid of his own, having been inspired by the one I owned previously. He insisted that I make the trip to New York at any cost because he could see such a difference in me since Trish and I had met.
He then informed me that the subject was not open for discussion and that I was taking his car and going to New York. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude since that trip pretty much cemented the relationship between Trish and I, while proving to me that needed to get another one of these cars.
A few months later on the way to work I passed a local used car lot where I spied a burgundy colored Intrepid gleaming in the sun. I returned the next day and test drove the car. The salesman seemed more than eager to sell and he chopped the price to $5500, little did I know at the time it would be the best automotive bargain I would ever make.
Little by little, I added my personal touches to the car as I always have done but the next few years would build a friendship that will be with me forever.
Trish’s daughter asked me one day why I liked the car so much. I responded by saying, “If Batman drove a sedan, it would be one of these.” Later that day, being of the native New York mindset, she called the car the “Bat Taxi” mostly because I think she was intrigued at how happy I was to drive them everywhere. The name stuck and thereafter it was affectionately referred to as simply “The Taxi” (with the Bat prefix being always implied)
The months and years that followed saw me and “The Taxi” make almost countless trips north and south on I95 to New York and back home to Virginia. Many overnight trips on the lonely, desolate stretches of the Jersey Turnpike in the wee hours of the morning, The Taxi left long ribbons of asphalt behind him with almost shameless speed. He was without a doubt a highway cruise missile of the first order. I often began to wonder if he possessed some kind of stealth ability since we sailed past more than a few parked state troopers and never once did he catch their eye. He carried us on our first trip to Connecticut, and those thereafter until I finally proposed to my wife. He then was the royal chariot of our wedding and honeymoon as he rolled us across the hills of Pennsylvania and on to Niagara Falls.
Afterward he served his daily “beast of burden” duties without complaint, but I could always feel like he yearned for the long stretches of blacktop that he covered with the grace of a greyhound in flight. He carried us on our first anniversary honeymoon trip to Paducah, Kentucky, where despite a couple of small repair issues he continued to roll off the miles like a swift marathon runner. You would never guess at this point that he already had over 150 thousand miles under his wheels.
As with many things in life, events happen that we do not expect. My daughter suffered an auto accident that luckily she came out of unscathed. However her Ford Probe, also known as “Buzz,” stepped up like a true Ranger and protected her with his very life. We were very sad to see Buzz go but we honor him for a job well done. The aftermath left her without transportation, so in a triangle trade she took my sons Ford Escort, and Josh was passed the torch. At 175 thousand miles, The Taxi was handed down from father to son.
The five years that followed had their share of rough spots, but through it all this rolling machine defied all odds. He required a few repairs over those years but certainly nothing that could ever be called “rebuilding”.
Josh followed in my footsteps, taking the car on road trip after road trip which it continued to handle with little complaint. Almost 100 thousand miles later, the transmission finally gave up the ghost.
Those who know me well also know I am a Star Trek fan, and the Klingon Code of Honor states that when a warrior cannot stand to face his enemies he will have his second end his life. The ancient Japanese Samurai were the inspiration for this code, since they could not stand the shame of defeat.
There is no defeat in this case, but more the example of the mighty racehorse that has run more races than anyone ever could have predicted. One that boasts such a mighty heart that now that he cannot run like the swift wind as he once did, he is ready to lie down and run in his dreams.
His license plate that he wore will forever hang in my garage on my “wall of fame,” and the things we did together will forever be in my heart and memories. I will never forget how, with such fortitude, he carried my son for so very long and how boldly he did so.
For all these things I give him undying thanks. He can be very proud of the legacy he has left behind as the Bat Taxi yielded the driveway spot to the “ThunderBat”. The T-Bat has known from day one that he had giant shoes to fill and he has done so with distinction.
So on this day, the T-Bat and I stand tall, and give a mighty salute to the passing of a legend. I will not be surprised if some lonely night on the stretch of the Jersey Turnpike, the lights of the T-Bat catch his ghostly silhouette racing away from us in the distance, and we hear his rumbling exhausts echoing across the “finish line” of the Goethals Bridge.
Godspeed, My Bat-Taxi, on whatever heavenly highway you may roam, for here on Earth you were an unmatched champion.
– T. August Green