Cars sort of matter to me: they were freedom and the ability to go where I wanted. For a while, they were sort of an extension of my personality, or at least reflected it a little -- though as I got older, I got more utilitarian and they're more a transportation device. These are pictures of cars that I've owned: or like make/model/color substitutes if I can't find pictures of my actual car.
1979 - My parents had a Cadillac Coupe De Ville that was a 3rd car, and was sort of "my car" for a few months. It was huge, it floated over ditches, handled like a snow-plow, had a 500 cubic inch motor that got about 8.9 mpg, and bench seats that sat 4 across. It wasn't practical, and the insurance was too much to allow me to drive it for long. My parents were quirky. They'd give me a loaner car if they had one, and cover insurance (a big win) -- but they would never have given me allowance, money for gas/repairs, or for a date or anything like that. I always worked. And the Caddy wasn't cheap to drive... even with gas @ $.90/gallon.
1979-1980 - My parents other 3rd car was a Subaru Wagon. My Uncle was reselling a ship of Subaru's that had storm damage in shipping. My parents bought 2 cheap, years before: they weren't driving the caddy much because of the milage and handling, but once I started driving it, they knew it had more trade-in-value than a Subbie, so they upgraded the Caddy, and I got a Subaru hand-me-down. I was totally happy with that (economics). Since they called it "my car", I replaced the stereo, put big speakers in the back, painted the wheels, and put shag carpeting in far back (my little shaggin' wagon). I wasn't getting "any", but it never hurt to be prepared. 6 months later, my Dad drove it to work, blew up the motor (destroyed a head-gasket), and it wasn't worth the repair costs, so I was carless, again.
1980 - After Subaru death, my Grandma took pity on me. Her neighbor was selling a 1972 Toyota Corona for cheap. "No thank you". It was the fugliest car I have ever seen. I begged her NOT to buy it. So they bought it for me. I smiled, thanked them, and after a demo-drive, I never drove it again. I was heartbroken because I couldn't sell it and buy what I wanted (Family politics), and I hated that car for reasons I can't explain. But I would have died rather than drive that car to the ER. After 3 months, my Dad drove it to get it "smogged" and "blew up another one", which I teased him for. In hindsight, I think they did that to give me an out (get around the family drama that turning down any gift would have caused).
1980-1982 - After the Corona went away, I was prepared to buy my own car -- I'd been working and saving. But my Uncle and Grandparents had chipped in, and found a scrapped Celica -- and my Uncle had tricked out for me. My Little Plumb Celica: I fell in love on first sight. Mine had a little more red in the purple, and more standard Krager 5-Spoke Mags, a glass-pack straight pipe making it fucking loud (and a ticket magnet), it had small spoiler/fin on the back, and a motor swap (with a Toyota truck motor -- so not much difference, a little more torque but less HP). It broke down a lot, but I loved the freedom that car represented. And it was the best gift I've ever gotten.
1982- I let a girl drive my Celica, she got hit (fender bender), I fixed it, she paid some back. My future College Roommate and I made a deal: he got to drive my car in California all summer, if I got to drive his all winter while going to school in Illinois. He drove mine, and blew it up the last week of summer (another head gasket), so I had to sell it for scrap. The "reciprocal" agreement turned out to be not completely reciprocal... but I did get occasional use of the Opal GT, so I considered it partly mine. But it fell apart due to rust (while Joel was using it, not me). It was a cute looking piece of shit.
File:PreludeHonda Prelude. I came back from College, and bought a prelude.
My Parents had always obstructed me getting a motorcycle like saying I could get one when I paid for it, then when I had the money saying, "I said we'd talk about it: and we shall. No!". Later, they bought my brother a new one when he was 12 (so they could ride with Gunther). Then they locked it up, so I couldn't ride it. (I drilled out the lock, and rode it for a year before they figured it out). So it was sort of a thing of bitterness between us. At 20, I went and bought my used Kawasaki GPZ-550, and kept it at a friends house so my parents wouldn't know. They threatened to kick me out of the house if I ever got one, but when they found out: they capitulated. It didn't matter, I was ready to leave. I loved the bike, and I had been riding dirt bikes for a decade. But I still almost died a 1/2 dozen times: Southern California is not motorcycle friendly. After another close call, I decided it was time to get rid of it.
Honda Accord. Since I was working, I decided to upgrade to a Honda Accord (near-new). It had all the amenities and was luxurious for its day.
1985-1987- My Dad sold me his little Mazda GLC: he charged me high blue book, but I could do installments, and it got my expenses way down. It looked like this but silver, with a silly decal. Dad seemed to love factory racing decals. "Sport" is misleading as it had 68 horsepower, if there was a tailwind. I was trying to get my expenses down for an attempt at school full time: but parents flaked on "allowance" they promised. And I was making too much working, so I went back to working.
I bought a little black Honda Civic SI. I found a great deal on a low-milage used one, and was up in L.A. The guy wanted to handle the titling, and I had my Uncle check it out (he ran a used car lot for years): it was a salvage and rebuild and the guy wasn't disclosing that (and didn't want me to see it on the title) -- but he said they did really good work. So I got them to knock a little off the price for being deceptive and was fine. I tinted it, put in a trick key-fob alarm (before those were a "thing") and stereo, put on some pirate stickers: it was mine. 6 months later it got totaled, when someone ran a red and t-boned me good. The car ended up on the sidewalk, turned around, and only 3 wheels on the ground. I had to go to the police lot later to get the gun I'd kept in it back.
I had a deep blue Acura Integra for a few years, it was a nice car. (I had a thing for Honda's). Weak clutches (I went though a couple), but nice motors/mechanics. I came home for lunch at my condo, when I cam out, it was gone. Stolen. Quite annoying. A few days later, the Insurance Company called, it was found, stripped in South L.A. I went up there, identified it, and they'd gutted it. Insurance didn't total it, they put it back together -- but I had a couple quirks, creaks and things that needed fixing. So I sold it: I didn't trust that it wouldn't be a money-pit after that.
- Honda CRX
I've never bought myself a new car (I usually buy 1 or a few years old). But we've bought Melissa a couple. In 1996 she wanted a new car, so we went down and bought her this little BMW 318ti (before I bought mine). She was looking at hatches, and always liked them -- and I knew of this one, so talked her into test driving. She didn't think she was a BMW girl, until she drove it. Then we bought it. They cancelled it (in the U.S.) a year or so later. Everything broke the first year: replaced a transmission, 3 stereos, fuel sensor in the engine, struts for the hatch -- the dealer knew her by name. After 6 months she was thinking of using lemon law to give it back. And all of a sudden, everything was fixed. She kept it for nearly 10 years, and other than some struts for the hatch, and normal wear maintenance, it was reliable as heck.
For her next car, we bought her the Mini Cooper. She was looking at different cars (still wanted a hatch), and I convinced her to try a Mini. The dealer asked me to drive it hard, and I drifted that little go-kart around -- it does handle off-the-hook. Melissa got to customize and pick everything, and the dealer experience was top notch, even if we had to wait months while it was built and shipped over. Buying a Mini back then was kinda joining a friendly cult: people waved at each other, and knew each other by the customizations they had. While consumer reports rates them low in reliability, other than some stereo issues, and a dozen flat tires, it's been rock solid.
Other Car Stories
These are stories about me and cars:
- Grand Theft Auto - Some kids tried to steal from a car in my lot, I was having none of it.
- There are the 4 times I got hit by a car: Cars greatest hits -- (1) Objects in the sideview mirror, (2) Driving while stoned, (3) You never see it coming, (4) Paved Paradise and ran me over in a parking lot
- The time I was T-Boned, and had to get in a lawsuit to get my money out
- Someone did a swoop and stop scam on me in San Jose
- Got into a little fender-bender with someone stupid, who happened to work with me at Adobe