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RIP Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser died. There were signs, for a long time, that we refused to accept.

“You really wanna get this fixed?” Jeff, our service guy would ask. And then finally, one day, he told Chris: “I’m not going to let you fix anything more on this truck. It’s a waste of your money.”

Pulling it out the other day - it just stopped. Cross-wise on the driveway - blocking the other car. It was time. 199,789 miles. We were sick not to get to 200,000. It was rusted, it was so loud you had to yell inside to be heard, it had unknown black stains on its carpet mats, its dashboard lights flashed warning signs constantly and couldn’t be fixed, grey duct tape that masked the dog ripped leather covered the back seat, it always had a faint smell of ketchup, chocolate shakes and dog. Still. This truck knew us.

It carried car seats, booster seats, and toddlers who kicked their legs with joy at merely going to get a Frosty. It carried babies and toddlers who only chose to sleep snuggled in its back seat at 3 am while Dad drove in a daze so that Mom could get some sleep.

If the family dinner is the church for family talk, the Cruiser was a flippin’ cathedral. Do you know how much you can hear in the carpool line at Montessori, or did you know a driver disappears to middle school kids coming home on a play date?

The Land Cruiser carried us through it all and grew up with us.

A friend got in a roll over accident about the time the kids were starting Drivers Ed. She came in the truck with me after and pointed out what needed to change.

“THIS is a weapon!” She held up a water bottle. “This is a weapon.” The Kleenex box. “This is a weapon.” My phone in the cup holder.

I started to freak, had nightmares of the Land Cruiser rolling over and hockey skates hitting the kids in the head.

“Are you sure you want to drive?” I would ask each boy at age 15. With each practice hour, a hundred miles were put on my Mom heart. Still, we got through it. Argued over whether or not peripheral vision works at a four way stop. Laughed at stories about drivers ed class and the student who suggested the hazard lights were really “undecided” lights for turning.

And then the boys were off and driving. The Land Cruiser spinning out of the driveway like a bat out of hell.

The Cruiser became a conspirator. It knew the truth behind:

-the mailbox and broken side view mirror.

-the bridge railing and the passenger side air bags.

-the reason the Varsity hockey team called it The Chew Cruiser.

-the ding in the back door, the side door, the broken tail light.

-the reason there was never, ever gas in it when I got in.

Our friend Bob, another Land Cruiser lover, told us there is a market for these trucks. People are nuts about them. And that is true. But I am guessing that any truck or car one buys and grows up with becomes family. Some name them, some won’t let you drink a coffee in them, some polish and wash them until they shine - and then put them in the garage to keep them safe.

We have a picture with Dillon and Chris buying the Land Cruiser. Dillon, a little guy, holding Chris’ hand and smiling. And then a picture of Dillon driving away to work one teen summer - in the Land Cruiser with a Jimmy Johns delivery sign on top. Come on, how do you say good-bye?

We chose to use it as a trade in - its headlights looking at us like sad eyes at the dealer as we got into the new truck.

We had to look away.

Blue, the reason behind the grey duct tape through out the leather seats, preferred riding shotgun in the Land Cruiser.

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