I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what topic this week’s column should cover until it hit me. Actually, my car’s speedometer hit it — 380,000 miles. I didn’t even get a picture of it rolling over, either.

“What mighty automobile could reach this daunting feat of automotive engineering?” you might ask.

WW: Corolla (1)

A few miles over, but this little 1988 Toyota Corolla has reached a big milestone ... and shows no signs of stopping.

Why, nothing but the humble little 1988 Toyota Corolla.

Five speeds of nothing but the raw power of 90 horses in its four-cylinder engine – probably fewer looking at the number on the speedometer now. As Indiana Jones once said, “It’s not the years. It’s the mileage.”

This little car – aptly named “Little Blue” because of its diminutive size and marlin blue poly color – has traveled across the country, conquering the climb up to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, whisking along roads through the corn and soybean fields of Iowa and taking leisurely drives along the coast in Pensacola, Florida.

WW: Corolla (2)

The rigging to take the car across the country in 2015, seen here in the Badlands in South Dakota.

Alright, so Little Blue was towed behind an RV during all of these trips, but the point is that the small car made it to those places – and there are pictures to prove it.

It may sound sappy, but I owe my whole driving career to that little Corolla. So, maybe it wasn’t the first car I learned to drive – that honor belongs to a 1964 Buick Skylark – nor is it the most impressive looking car I’ve ever driven.

It was, however, the first manual transmission car I ever drove. It was the car I drove to get my license, much to the incredulous surprise of the woman testing me. (“You’re driving a manual?! I’ve only had, like, eight kids take their test in a manual in over thirteen years of testing!”)

It does have air conditioning, but that’s about the extent of its creature comforts. It’s as basic as they come, with roll down windows and lap belt-only seat belts on the backseat.

This poor car has also doubled as a work truck over various points in its life. Most recently, it’s hauled saddles, hay and nearly 250 pounds of horse feed, balanced around the passenger and rear seats and the trunk.

Yet it still continues on.

There’s been close calls regarding parts failing or completely slinging off. Once, on a cold evening, it pulled into the driveway looking like the DMC DeLorean from “Back to the Future” with steam rising up from its hood and reaching back over the body.

Three tiny holes finally caused the demise of its original radiator and an $80 dent in my savings. It was worth every penny to have my daily driver back in work though.

Little Blue may be slowing down, but it’s showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, despite the cloud of smoke that sputters out when it takes off. Don’t worry, I’m going to fix it when it finally croaks. I owe it to the poor car.

Kelly Alley is a senior studying journalism and electronic media. She can be reached atkalley2@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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