Cars

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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.


Cars

1974CoupeDeVille.jpg1979 - 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.
1973SubaruWagon.jpg1979-1980 - 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.
1972ToyotaCorona.jpg1980 - 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).
1974ToyotaCelica.jpg1980-1982 - 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.
1970OpalGT.jpg1982- 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.
GPZ550.jpgMy 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.
1984HondaAccord.jpgHonda 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.
1981MazdaGLC.JPG1985-1987- 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.
1993CivicSI.jpgI 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.
1992AcuraIntegra.jpgI 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.
1994.Isuzu.jpeg1991 - My Little Isuzu Amigo, with a shell. It was a cute, loud little Jeep like mini-SUV. We drove this to San Diego for our Honeymoon.
File:BMW- 533i.
BMW.jpegMy BMW M3. I test drove this car, and the dealer said, "you can push it". I proceeded to drift the car though a windy road at keep it just on the edge of cohesion. I just knew intuitively what this car would do. I test drove a Z3 M (too squirley), and an 8 (too heavy), this was the Goldilocks car for me. I had it for 10 years, because I kept looking for something else, and nothing was close to as good.
InfinitiFX35.jpgWhile I loved the BMW, I had gotten a brake job at 50K miles and it was $4K, and I was approaching 100K miles: time to sell. The car may drive great, but the maintenance/parts were absurd. And I wanted a little more space -- so an absurd lease during the recession, so for like $299/month I could drive a $50K car for 3 years. Winning. The Infiniti was a nice car (basically the same motor as the Z), but while everything was good, nothing was great.
2008MazdaCX7.JPG2010- This is my current car. Not the nicest or worst thing around. It was basically the poor man's Infiniti. But it gets me from A->B without too much trouble, and it's paid for -- and that was it, I just picked a cheap/affordable car that I could pay cash for. I went with silver, again. And Melissa was like "Silver or Blue" you are predictable.

Melissa's Cars

  • Mustang
  • MR2
  • Navajo
  • Honda CRX
BMWM.jpgI'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.
File:Mini.jpgFor 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:


User:Ari