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Several lines of dialogue from the movie "The Defiant Ones" (1958):

  • Somebody gotta fix them cars.
  • Let somebody else fix them cars. Me? I wanna drive 'em!
  • You gotta buy 'em first.
  • On a buck-eighty an hour? That's just a stopover for a second-hand Chevy. Nah, not for me. I got smart. You're a maker or a taker. Me, I'm a taker.

Now, a stopover is "a short interruption in a journey or the place visited during such an interruption", according to Wiktionary. There seems to be no slang meaning.

From the context, he seems to mean "that's just enough to buy a second-hand Chevy". Why stopover then?

Or is it that he means "That's just half-way enough to buy a second-hand Chevy"?

In that case, it was the preposition for that beguiled me. Had there been to in its place, it would've been clearer to me: "That's just a half-way to buying a second-hand Chevy".

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Sounds like he's come up with an alternative to "stopgap". The choice you make when what you really want is not something you can have at the moment.

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  • Yes, stopgap fits nicely, that also explains the preposition for. Thank you, @TRomano! Nov 8 '14 at 19:19
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    I'm having second thoughts. Although a second-hand Chevy would be just a stopgap for him, as it's clearly not his dream car, the antecedent to "that's" seems to be the fact that all he earns is "a buck-eighty an hour". It could be that the desired "destination" is dream car, the remote destination still beyond his reach is "second-hand Chevy", and where he can go on $1.80/hour is some little town between here and "second-hand Chevy". So the metaphor is "car as destination". Nov 8 '14 at 19:34
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    "that's just a stopover" = "those earnings are only enough to get me halfway to some place that is itself very far from my dream destination." It's quite elliptical. I agree with your reading. Nov 8 '14 at 19:40
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    You were concerned about "for". As you know, we normally see stopover for {travelers: ships, tourists, migrant birds, etc} or stopover for {purpose: refueling, food, etc}. But we do see for used with destinations in such locutions as "The ship was bound for Tahiti* or "They were heading for high ground." It's not too much of a stretch to think "for" is used in that destination sense in this elliptical passage. Nov 9 '14 at 10:27

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