More than two decades ago, my father and I drove up to Truro, Nova Scotia, in order to pick up my mother’s new minivan. She wasn’t aware that the best Christmas present she was ever to receive would be sitting in her garage that holiday season. It was a complete surprise.
My father had the benefit of working out the whole thing with his brother, a salesman at Blaikies Dodge Chrysler. I was very young, but I was already deep in my automotive training. And while most of the cars on sale at a Chrysler dealer in the late 80s weren’t enticing in the least, the Pentastar certainly did know how to build a revolutionary van.
I hardly knew my father’s older brother; not before we bought the minivan and not after. We crossed paths rarely, as we’re just not the most social bunch. Nevertheless, I have huge respect for any man who can make a living in a tough business, all the more so because he’s my own uncle. He grew up on a small farm in western Prince Edward Island and then in the backwoods beyond Millbrook, Nova Scotia. Electricity was not an ever-present luxury at the farm. His family didn’t own their first car (which happened to be a brand new pickup truck) until he was around the age of ten.
It’s no secret that at GoodCarBadCar we weren’t fans of the Dodge Caliber, a car my uncle once sold to my aunt. The Chrysler 200 Convertible doesn’t float my boat. The Dodge Charger is so far from pretty. The Dodge Journey bores me. And the Dodge Viper, both old and new, doesn’t make sense to me.
Yet today, along with appreciated vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler 300 SRT8, all Chrysler products are my favourite cars. I’ve always noticed that my father, a driver of Audis and Subarus, provided a fierce defence of Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram products when I readily offered criticism. Just the other day he defended the Dodge Avenger, a car I know he would never consider buying.
I think that has a lot to do with his older brother’s Chrysler affiliation. At around 10:30 this morning, my Uncle Blair passed away. He’d been struggling with severe heart problems for a long time yet until recently still sold Chryslers, or, as he and my father called them, Currr-iize-lures. Along with their parents, two more brothers, and two sisters, they formed the most mild-mannered family you’d have ever come across. Somehow, despite their unassuming demeanor, selling things came naturally, whether it was Electrolux vacuums, encyclopedias, financial services, RVs, herring, or Dodge Calibers.
The oldest among them was faithful to one automaker at the best and worst of times. Monday is a new day, and with it comes more unbiased writing in this space. I knew so little of him or about him, however, I can’t deny that, today, my uncle’s passing is bringing out in me a similar sense of loyalty. Besides our familial connection, the unmentioned bond he and I shared in regards to the automotive industry is, today, Chrysler-centred. I wasn’t able to visit him, comfort him, or offer my respect. And let’s not forget that Blair was much more than a salesman. He was a son, brother, husband, and a father. Sadly, I didn’t know him as an uncle.
So all I can really do today is appreciate what he appreciated. Today, for the time being, Chryslers are my favourite cars. And nothing else even comes close.