Saturday, April 26, 2008

Behind the Blogger, Pt. 10.5: Cars I've Owned (Revised)

This is a re-posting of piece I put up a while ago, on the various cars I've owned. It was inspired by a few other similar write-ups I'd seen around the internets. I've since found a few photos of the actual cars, and decided to put them in this revised piece. Personal photos of my own cars are larger.

Have you ever tried to compile a list of all the cars you've owned? It's more difficult than you might think. And finding the pictures is even more difficult.* Here's my list [years driven in brackets]:

#1 - 1973 Toyota Corolla [1982]
- Mine was yellow, had a good deal of rust, a black vinyl interior, no air conditioning, automatic transmission and an AM radio. It was one of Mom & Dad's "fixer-uppers," bought on the cheap for runabout use and then resale. It was loaned to me instead of the blue VW Beetle that had been promised to me--which was sold before I turned 16. Dad & I pulled a FM radio from the junkyard and installed it. . .but it only had 1 dash speaker! I did learn that songs meant for stereo (Monday Monday, Twist & Shout) are kind of hilarious out of one speaker.

#2 - 1980 Datsun 210 [1982 - 1984] - Red 2-door with a nice comfy black vinyl interior, FM stereo, air conditioning and a stick shift. Which meant I had to learn to drive stick--a challenge for uncoordinated little me. Mom & Dad loaned me this one too, an identical situation to #1. But this one was only 2 years old at the time and had square headlights! How cool! Trashed the right side of the car, and had to have it fixed before Dad got home from a trip. Pulled that off, and then the neighbor creamed the left side!

#3 - 1978 Dodge Colt Station Wagon [1984-1985] - My graduation gift was a bit of a step back, two years older (plus two years later), and it was a silver station wagon (and not a race car as in the photo!). I made the best of it. I removed the AM radio, installed an under dash AM/FM/Cassette player, and speakers in the doors. I blacked out all the chrome, and rocker panels. It was certainly not cool, but I got by. This was my only 4-speed manual transmission. Blew the engine, 'cause I was a reluctant oil-changer. Oops.

#4 - 1980 Toyota Celica GT Liftback [1985-1988] - This is the first car I purchased myself, with my own loan. I loved this car, even if it did have a large discolored spot on one side, and so much rust underneath that Dad was amazed I didn't fall through the floor. It was silver, a 5-speed, had cloth interior, air conditioning, but only an AM/FM radio. I blacked out the chrome and rocker panels again, but this time it looked cool. It was the first car I ever bought and paid for myself (although, with a co-sign from Dad!). It had a broken gas gauge, so I had to use the trip-odometer to calculate fill-up time!

#5 - 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier RS [1988-1991] - My first car that seemed like a grown-up's car. Not a dream car, but only two years old, and an excellent deal bought at auction. And this was the first model that took the stodgy Cavalier, and made it semi-cool. It was red, had a nifty dash, a cool luggage rack on the trunk, and no chrome. It was a 5-speed manual, but a dog going up hills. Nice red cloth interior and upgraded dash were eye-catching though. Oh, and only an AM/FM radio again. My sister got this car after me, and drove it into the ground!

#6 - 1988 Nissan Pulsar NX SE [1991-1994] - Back to a sporty red number, with T-tops, a cockpit interior, and an allegedly removable hatch back. This was a two-seater, very sporty with dual over-head cam 16 valve engine, 5-speed transmission, and--yep--AM/FM stereo--no tapes or CDs. This car was a maintenance nightmare. And it leaked. And it eventually became little more than a sculpture after its timing belt broke. But it looked cool. Oh, and I forgot, I had a run-in with a ditch in the winter (might have been around the time of the photo), and had another car land on TOP of it.

#7 - 1972(?) Mercedes Diesel Sedan [1991] - The first and only time I had two cars. Mom gave me this car, which she had purchased from a little old lady who only drove it on Sundays--literally. It was dark green, and looked very cool. But the car had been sitting outside in Ohio for years, with no maintenance. I drove it to my house, and it promptly lost its timing chain. I gave it to a coworker for free, and he eventually had to pay somebody to take it. A real lost opportunity.

#8 - 1989 Mazda 626 Turbo [1994-2000] - Beautiful car, it looked very similar to the Audis of its day. And with the turbo, it was amazingly zippy. It was back to the automatic transmission, but had a gorgeous interior, and was quite a ride. My only complaint was the driver's arm rest, which was torture. Oh, and the air conditioning absolutely could not keep up with Nevada heat. And the fact that once it started to wear out (at 190,000+ miles), it really decided to wear out. Two, two, TWO transmission replacements! It had a tape deck, but it ate tapes. Can't believe I can't find a photo of mine to post. . .mine was cooler, with cast aluminum wheels.

#9 - 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sport [2000-present] - My current ride was always my dream vehicle, and it still is. I love it, warts, rough ride and all. It's red, with a removable hard top, with full doors, custom bumpers and side steps, and a (now worn, and covered by fake tiger-skin!) leather interior. It's my first 6-cylinder, with a 5-speed transmission, and get this--no air conditioner. Which even in Las Vegas is no big whoop, since I take the doors and top off every summer. It came with a Mopar tape-eating AM/FM player, but I've since replaced it with a CD-player. It's been a little pricey over the last year, with a series of fixes and maintenance issues. But I'm keeping it, unless gas hits $5 or something--it only gets 15 mpg. UPDATE: Price of gas as of April 26, 2008, $3.59 for regular unleaded.

#? - Dream Car I Can't Justify: 1975-1978 Volkswagen Super Beetle Convertible - See, I love cars, but I don't need to have super-fast, or super-expensive. For some reason that even I'm not sure about, I've wanted one of these since I was a kid. Hey, I got the Jeep eventually, so who knows?

Honerable Mentions - Early 70s 4-door Nova, my brother's car I drove for a month when mine was down. Early 70s Toyota Corolla, my brother's car I drove for another month when mine was down and his license was suspended (I nearly totalled it!). 1990 Nissan Stanza, rented for a month when I lived in LA. And The Other Half's cars, 1991 Mazda 626, 2000 VW GTI, and 2004 VW Golf (pictured with my Jeep above).

That's it! For now, until the next dream vehicle catches my eye.

*Photos culled from all over the internet. I've lost the attributions, and hope that nobody minds. If I've used one of your photos, and you'd like it attributed (or removed), please contact me at the email address at the upper left of the page. Thanks.

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