A beloved Honda Civic
Harry Ettling bought Bluey new, long before there were such things as hybrid cars and internet auto loans. He has driven and lovingly maintained Bluey for three decades, survivng severe accidents, being overturned in a riot and having its tires stolen. Now, after logging 170,000 miles, Bluey has come to the end of the road. Ettling, heart-broken, says he will not be replaciong her any time soon.
Ettling told the New York Daily News:
“I’m not getting a new car. I need time to heal.”
Hit early by the ugly stick
At one time, the car was a beautiful sky blue, prompting its moniker “Bluey.” By the time of its send-off, however, there was not much blue left for the rust.
The rust-encrusted-but-still-chugging Bluey was a fixture of the Inwood neighborhood where Ettling has lived since he bought it three decades ago. It has become a beloved icon, because of, not in spite of, its battered aspect.
Bluey was hit with the ugly stick early in its life. Ettling told reporters that Bluey met its first battering shortly after he bought it:
“It got totaled along with three other parked cars on Fort Washington Avenue.”
Bluey was also overturned in the 1992 Washington Heights riots. But after $1,500 worth of repairs, it was on the road again, uglier for the wear, but all the more popular because of it.
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“Everybody in the neighborhood knows this car. People have come up to me and said, ‘Ever since I was a little toddler, I’ve been seeing this car on the street.’ And that’s a beautiful thing.”
A full life
But when the floor were rusting so badly that Ettling was afraid his foot might go through it, he decided it was time to put Bluey out of its misery. By that point, it was far too late to even consider a trade-in with a used car dealer.
On Saturday, August 4, Ettling and his neighbors organized a funeral procession up Seaman Avenue, near New York City’s 207th Street. It was almost like being at a Bourbon Street send-off. Ettling wore a top hat, a marching brass band played, and Bluey carried a memorial bouquet on its hood. There was even a police escort.
And Bluey had just enough life left to power itself to the end of its procession. Then it was hauled onto a flat-bed tow truck and taken to its final resting place in a mass grave at the junk yard. Not the most reverent resting place, perhaps, but how many cars have had so grand and loving a send off?