Saturday, March 30, 2024

These are the Cars I've Owned (1982 - 2024)

[Every so often, I use this site as a personal confessional. That's kind of what "blogs" originally were: 
personal web logs. Since I haven't written in a while, I thought I'd do one of these, to explain what I've been up to, and where I've been]

Wow! I haven't been here in a long, long time! This is a zombie blog. I haven't posted in years. But I thought I'd update an old blog post I did (a few times) about cars I've owned. And it's a bit of a conceit, because the first couple I didn't really "own." My parents just let me drive them.

#1 - 1975 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.

As Original As It Gets: 1980 Datsun 210 | Datsun 210, Datsun ...

#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! I managed to trash 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. 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. I have since come to believe this was a 1977 model, but the years are a little hazy, upon research. Name: Melba.

#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! Name: Melba II.

#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! Name: Melba III.


#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. This is another car, where the year is suspect. I think it's possible it was an '87. Name: Melba IV.

#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. No name.

MAZDA 626 (Mk.3) Hatchback Specs & Photos - 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 -  autoevolution

#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. Name: Melba, the Mazda.

#9 - 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sport [2000-2010]
 - This was always my dream vehicle. I loved it, warts, rough ride and all. It was red, with a removable hard top, with full doors, custom bumpers and side steps, and a (worn, and covered by fake tiger-skin!) leather interior. It was my first (and only) 6-cylinder, with a 5-speed transmission, and get this--no air conditioner. Which even in Las Vegas is no big whoop, since I took the doors and top off every summer. It came with a Mopar tape-eating AM/FM player, but I replaced it with a CD-player. The 4-wheel drive honestly didn't get much use, but was great in the rain. It was very pricey in its final years, with a series of fixes and maintenance issues. I'll miss it, but I won't miss the cost and hassle of repairs. With only 52,000 miles on it, you'd think it would have had better reliability. Name: Jack.

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#10 - 2009 Mitsubishi Galant ES [2010-2018]
 Finally, a car made in this century! With the Jeep facing even more repairs, we finally bit the bullet and bought a new (well, slightly used) car. It is a rust-red (redder in person) 4-door sedan, but has a slightly forward stance, and a nicely updated nose and tail from earlier models. It is at once unassuming and different. Non-car people will not know what it is (largely because it has no identifying badging outside of the Mitsubishi 3-diamond logos), and you don't see them all over the place like Camrys or Accords. Many reviews will tell you that the Galant is an also-ran in the midsize car segment, but after driving a rugged, creaky, bouncy Jeep for nine years? Smooth as silk and an upgrade in all areas. In retrospect, this car, reliable as it was, became something of a bore. I had it a long time, eight years. And I had my eye on the next one long before I actually GOT it. Name: Rusty.

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#11 - 2017 Jeep Renegade - [2018-2023]
  I'd wanted a Jeep Renegade from the moment they were announced. About the same size as the classic Jeep Cherokee, something about the Renegade just spoke to me. I wanted one. I sat in one at the 2014 auto show in Los Angeles. But then we decided to move 2000 miles across the country, and buy a new house (without new jobs). That threw a wrench in. But after we'd established ourselves in our new locale, the game was on again. I bought my first brand new vehicle in my life, in the 2017 Jeep Renegade. It was a model year behind by the time I bought it, but the discount was impressive. No problems with it ever. Still a favorite. Name: Quark.

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#12 - 2020 Jeep Compass - [2023-?] I had no intention of buying a new car. But the climate in 2023 for trade-ins was absurdly good, and too good to pass up. And at the time I'd bought my Renegade, I'd been torn between it, and the relatively new (then) Compass. I always said, if something happened to the Renegade, I'd buy a Compass. Instead, the opportunity just came along to trade it in. And I did! And so far, I love it. Ironically, I despised the previous generation of Compass. It always looked to me like you asked an eight-year-old to draw a Jeep from memory. Name: Uhura.

Honerable Mentions - The Other Half's cars, 1991 Mazda 626, 2000 VW GTI, 2003 VW Golf (pictured with my Jeep Wrangler above), two different 2012 Scion xBs, a 2016 Nissan Murano and his current 2021 Subaru Forester.

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

*Photos culled from all over the internet, and my own photos where I had them. 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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