My friend in Texas, Mike Massey, recently listed this Lumina. Remember those? The 1990-94s were pretty nice cars, with the Euro high-trim versions, the 3.4 coupes and the ultra-modern looking APV ‘Dustbuster’ minivans. The 1995 restyle made it a sedan only body style, as the coupe was renamed Monte Carlo-though the minivan continued through ’96 before being replaced by the utterly conventional Venture. Those ’95-’00 Lumina sedans were pretty plain to me, with the exception of the seldom-seen LTZ versions with their leather seats and alloys. Sure, the brochures frequently showed them with the LS alloy wheels and such, but most of the Luminas I remember seeing were like this one. You’d expect Mulder and Scully to get out of one. Subdued colors, with the base silver plastic wheel covers. But after Mike posted the ad, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen one in quite a while.
One of the last family vacations my parents took us kids on was to South Padre Island for Christmas 1999. We flew into the Brownsville airport and were supposed to get a Chrysler minivan. None were available, and they actually tried to pawn a pickup on us. Dad flatly refused, and they managed to find a new Lumina LS for us, in burgundy with that then-ubiquitous dark gray interior. I drove it once or twice and it was roomy and comfortable, but a bit plain.
Anyway, as Mike’s ad related, “I’ve just re-listed the Lumina on Marketplace and Craigslist. I ended up replacing the front suspension strut cartridges. You don’t replace the actual struts, but remove shock cartridges from inside them from under the hood. Weird design. Took a while to get the parts from RockAuto, but it’s done now. That fixed the suspension rattle and the car rides smooth and quiet now. Runs and drives excellent for what it is. Had it going 80mph down I-35 yesterday evening and it’s happy as it can be. Really too bad Lili’s roomate decided she couldn’t afford to insure it. Came out really well!”
“3.1 V6 engine, automatic transmission. Never wrecked, cloth interior is not ripped or torn and is clean and comfortable, not smoked in, no dash warning lights, radio sounds good, keyless entry works, 2-sets of keys, large trunk. Gets very good mileage and is safe. I refurbished this car for a friend of my daughter to use for college at Texas State, but she decided she couldn’t afford the insurance after I did all the work! Since April 2021 I’ve installed a brand new battery, a new water pump, a new temperature sensor, a new fuel pump, fuel filter, pcv valve, the cooling system was flushed, and the car has BRAND NEW TIRES installed. I also just installed new front suspension strut cartridges, the oil and oil filter were just changed, and new wiper blades installed. Motor runs clean, brakes are strong, car rides SMOOTH and runs excellent. Again have all receipts.”
“For NEEDS, the right rear power window motor does not work (motor is $30 on RockAuto), the cruise control does not work. The a/c works, is cold while moving but just cool at idle. Car has some carpet stains inside and some body bumps here and there, and paint is faded on the roof and bumpers, but to be expected with the age and mileage. Texas car since new so zero rust. Car was owned by an Uncle and used to commute to Austin from LaGrange for years, which is why the mileage is high. It was always mechanically maintained, and a stack of records going back to new comes with the car, along with the original owner’s manual and even the original window sticker. This is an excellent first car or work car. Parts are cheap and car is easy to service. Ready to drive!”
A rust free, functional car for $2500 meant it sold quickly. Mike emailed me the news: “SO, I’ve got a car story for you! I sold the Lumina sedan just a bit ago (yesterday, Oct. 28th). Guy calls me this morning, Scott, says he’s from Bandera but is out in Johnson City, and he’d like to come see the Lumina. I say ok…but tell him that is a heck of a drive, and, trying to be up front, tell him that the paint is faded, and it has some dents and such, and in general looks better in pics than in person. I didn’t want him to drive all that way and be disappointed. He says he’s still like to come, so I said Come On! ANYWAY, he gets here about an hour ago and shows up in a CLEAN 1991 S-10 4×4 pickup. He gets out and he’s a big chested burly guy with a big smile, well-dressed, looks to be in his early 40s. I tell him I like his truck and that I had a black one like it once, and he processed to show me this one has a 5.3 V8 in it from a Suburban. Pretty cool!”
“So anyway, he walks over to the Lumina and he’s walking around it, and smiling, and I hand him the keys and he gets in and he’s SMILING and starts it and then gets out and looks under the hood and in the trunk, and he’s standing back, looking at it, and SMILING…. In my head I’m going “what the heck is this…?? It’s a faded mild-level Lumina with 252,000 miles on it….not a Camaro…”. So he asks if he can drive it down the street and I say Sure, go. He pulls out and is gone no more than two minutes, and pulls back in the driveway, opens the door, and says “I WANT IT! NOT EVEN GONNA HAGGLE ON THE PRICE!””
“OK….. So we go inside to the kitchen table to do paperwork. He pulls out an envelope from the bank and counts me out the money, and we do the bill of sale, title, TVN paperwork and tax form, and this guy is just acting like he’s so excited…like he’s buying a Ferrari or something.. I finally have to ask what his plans are for the car. He laughs and says “well that’s a funny story!”. He tells me he saw the car on Craigslist last night and HAD to have it. Turns out this guy is a Secret Service Agent, and he works at the LBJ presidential ranch in Johnson City. When he passed all his tests and became a Secret Service agent back in the 90s his very first government car was…..a blue Chevy Lumina sedan. He said when he saw my ad he thought it WAS his old car! He said he was so proud of himself for making agent, and of that car back then. He said he had his Lumina for 3-4 years, always kept if clean and nice, and it was always a good car. He said he got in mine and felt like a kid again! He said in the early 2000s they phased out the Luminas and gave agents Chrysler minivans….and he HATES Chrysler minivans, and hated giving up his Lumina! He told me he plans to clean it up and paint it but will keep it looking stock and “invisible”..his words. Ha! He’s thrilled to death with it! I can’t believe it. Too great! Had to share. Ha!”