The Bronco goes home

BroncoSome stories have happy endings. This just might be one of them.

As I’ve previously noted, I bought a new old car in October. That put me on a quest for someone to buy the 1988 Ford Bronco I’ve owned for seven years, but never wanted.

Tuesday, my oldest niece and only godchild, Shelby, drove away in the Bronco, making for a better story than the tale of how I came to own it.

ShelbyShelby’s story began Monday, when her dad, my brother, Scott, called. “Do you still have the Bronco,” he asked. “What’s your absolute rock-bottom price?”

Shelby — who lives on farm near a ghost town called Newbern, which is maybe three miles from where her dad and I grew up — was looking for an old four-wheel drive truck. She wanted it for driving to work on the days when snow and ice make the mostly gravel-road commute difficult in her 2000 Ford Mustang.

So she drove the 140 miles or so from her house to Muscatine to kick the tires. She pulled into the driveway a little after 11 in the morning. We walked to the Bronco, which started without a hitch even though it had sat for two or three months. Everything looked promising, but Shelby said she was going to look at a 1984 Chevy pickup later in the day and then she’d let me know.

And then something happened that should happen for anyone who is trying to sell a 27-year-old Ford to his niece,who will turn 22 in a couple of weeks. Her car’s power steering quit working as she started to back out of the driveway. She called her boyfriend, Casey, who is the son of a longtime friend. Then she called her dad.

Is the power-steering belt broken, he asked.


Well, put some fluid in the power-steering pump and see if that fixes it.

But it didn’t.

We decided Shelby had three options, including:

  • Driving home in her car without power steering, which seemed like a bad idea.
  • Seeing if someone (and her Grandma JoAnn is who we had in mind) could meet us halfway between here and there to help get Shelby home.
  • Driving home in the Bronco.

Shelby chose Door No. 3.

We climbed in and drove to the nearest convenience store, where I bought a tank of gas, aired up the tires and checked the oil. After that we stopped at Boonie’s on the Avenue for a hamburger and then Shelby headed for home.

I called my brother. Whatever happens, I said, I don’t want that darn truck back.

It doesn’t look like I need to worry.

“Just took the Bronco on its first trip through Newbern,” Shelby said Wednesday in a text message. “I think it likes it here.”

All that’s left to write the happy ending to this story is for Scott or Casey to retrieve Shelby’s Mustang from the Muscatine driveway where it is parked. And for Shelby to send a check to her uncle. I’m sure it’s in the mail.