Saying Goodbye to My 200,000-Mile Chevy Sonic Was Truly Bittersweet

This car was a lot of "firsts" for me, and it will always have a special place in my heart.

I never thought I’d be the type to bond with a machine, but I did with my Chevy Sonic. The Sonic was so many of my firsts – first Chevy, first car I purchased and financed, on my own, from a dealer. My first car with a warranty. It took me to Canada for the first time. It’s what I drove to big cities like Washington, DC and Nashville with ease. If I couldn’t depend on anyone, I know I could depend on my Sonic. It was always there, reliably transporting me to new places. My sonic kept me out of the poorhouse too; earning money for the Ponzi scheme known as rideshare driving.

Saying Goodbye to My 200,000-Mile Chevy Sonic Was Truly Bittersweet
Doesn’t look half bad for 210,000 miles. – Image: Kevin Williams

But, she was getting up there in age. In the five short years that I owned her, I had added more than 160,000 miles to its odometer, bringing the total mileage well past 200,000. She started using some oil, and the turbo stopped making boost like it should, causing an intermittent P0296 (turbocharger underboost) code. And yet, she persisted. I could always count on her to start and take me wherever I wanted to go. Yeah, she might be a lot slower than she used to be, and maybe she needed a bit of brake attention, but she ran… and ran well.

Ultimately, I just didn’t know if I was in love anymore. I had another, more interesting car, my Fiat 500 Abarth. I’ve spent energy and money, making the Fiat my own in ways that I just never had the passion (or cash) to do with my old Chevy. I always wanted a nice stereo or dark window tint, but I couldn’t afford it. The Fiat was faster, sharper, louder, more charming – I had fallen in love with the Fiat, and out of love with the Chevy.

When I started working at Car Bibles I had all these plans to fix her up. The pandemic had ruined ridesharing for most of 2020, no real events, no people to take anywhere fun. I knew I was only kind of keeping the Sonic on the road safely, with its aforementioned issues.

Saying Goodbye to My 200,000-Mile Chevy Sonic Was Truly Bittersweet
I think this design is still really good looking. – Image: kevin Williams

So I let her go.

I listed the Sonic for what I think any running vehicle is worth – $2,500 – and had the car sold in less than 12 hours.

A race driving instructor at Autointerests bought it; he was looking for a cheap, manual-transmission vehicle to throw around the track and the Sonic happened to be on his way home from IMSA. Coincidentally, I’d listed the Sonic on the final day of the IMSA weekend at Mid-Ohio.  

Saying Goodbye to My 200,000-Mile Chevy Sonic Was Truly Bittersweet
In her new home. – Image: Kevin Williams

After a bit of haggling (after all, the turbo was struggling to generate boost and would likely need to be replaced) I let it go for $1,800. Less than I wanted, but I knew it was going to a good home. There, the Sonic would start its new life as a race car, even if it wouldn’t be in my hands. Or maybe it will, who knows; Autointerests run a first-timers instruction course, and I might just take them up on that offer and go out there.

Funny, I pride myself on flipping cars, buying them in a bad way, and nursing them back to health. Yet, I didn’t have the interest or desire to make sure my car was perfect before I let it go.

I asked the previous seller to keep me abreast of what will happen next to my old Sonic – I’m curious to see what happens in its next life.

I’ll miss it greatly, though.

Kevin Williams

Kevin WilliamsKevin's been into cars his entire life, anything from the tiny kei cars in Japan, to the maybe not-so-good American barges of the 1980s. He's flipped more than 25 cars, only lost money twice, and has known how to make his dollar stretch as far as it can. If he ain't talking about cars, he's probably snacking on something sweet and cakey. Contact the author here.