We’ve all been there, if we’re honest with ourselves. All of us have experienced some low ebb in our fortunes and then been ignored or shunned by individuals who had once claimed to be our allies. I’m not specifically making reference to how our negative words and actions can have logically adverse consequences (which is true). I’m speaking more about simply being down and out and discovering the fickle tendencies human beings can have when they don’t want to be associated with a “loser”. The words of musician Jimmie Cox encapsulate this idea in the lyrics of his classic composition “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out”, my favorite rendition of which came from the late, great Nina Simone.
Well, once I lived the life of a millionaire,
Spending my money, I didn’t care.
Taking my friends out for a mighty good time,
Buying bootleg liquor, champagne and wine.
Then I began to fall so low,
Couldn’t find me no friends, had no place to go.
If I ever get my hands on a dollar again,
I’m gonna hold on to it till the eagle grins.
People seem to forget that the second-generation Sebring convertible was a somewhat desirable car when it first arrived for 2001. I remember thinking it was handsomely styled in a way that mostly shed its rental-car image and restored some of its credibility as a car an individual would actually want to own and not just rent while on vacation in Florida. Its debut was only a few years into the existence of newly-merged parent company DaimlerChrysler, at a time when Chrysler as a whole seemed like a hip, innovative entity that was incapable of doing any wrong.
The Sebring’s story has been covered at Curbside elsewhere, but my intent is to provide context of my impression of these Sebrings as being nice cars when new, as the only other reference to this generation in popular culture that I can think of is as the personal transportation of the Michael Scott character from the U.S. version of the television mockumentary sitcom “The Office”.
For those unfamiliar with this show, I’ll briefly sum up Mr. Scott’s persona as being aspirational but highly inept and annoyingly image-focused. That his car was a Sebring convertible seemed to be a direct and obvious damning critique of this Chrysler model as being subpar, simply by association with him. Before I was a regular watcher of that series (and I remain a fan), I remember being a little surprised and saddened by the amount of subtle, implied negative references this poor Chrysler endured, being characterized as a losermobile without even needing words written into the script to directly state this.
I said, nobody knows you
When you’re down and out.
In your pocket, you ain’t got one penny,
And your friends, you didn’t have any.
Just as soon as you get up on your feet again,
Here they all come, they say that they’re your long-lost friends.
Oh, Lord, without a doubt,
Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.
At this point, I don’t have a whole lot of hope that mega-conglomerate Stellantis, the newly created umbrella under which the Chrysler brand now resides, will ever roll out a bunch of new, Chrysler-branded products. But just like the once-maligned Cordoba personal luxury coupe seems to have enjoyed a higher profile lately by those who admit they genuinely like it (self included), I’m sure that there will be people who now make fun of the Sebring convertible who will be openly professing their admiration for it in the future, pretending that they always had.
Let’s not forget that when the ’82 LeBaron convertible, the Sebring’s ancestor, had arrived, Chrysler Corporation was seen as being on the leading edge of reintroducing this bodystyle to U.S.-branded showrooms. And yes, my then-middle aged aunt did own a LeBaron convertible at one point, but I liked her car then, and I would drive that Claret Red J-Body beauty today. Years of writing for Curbside has reinforced in me the importance of simply liking what I like, and saying so, regardless of “popular opinion”. You don’t need somebody else’s permission to admire something that isn’t and wasn’t perfect. Even if you are only just a casual fan of these Sebrings like me, you are not alone.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, March 23, 2018.