Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cars I've Owned over the Years

True fact: at age 16 I took driver's ed, got my driver's license, and then for years I hardly ever drove. One, I was massively uninterested. Two, once I went away to college, I got along for years on a combination of city living, hoofing it, and city buses. Traveling out of town? Greyhound, or catch a ride, or else I simply didn't.

Yes, for years I pretty much existed without those trips out of town which you take for granted. Finally, in my mid twenties, I stopped being quite so ascetic and countercultural, and got my own set of wheels. To wit, to date:

1968 Ford Galaxie 500. "The Bluesmobile." Color: Light green. Bought: Spring 1982. From: My grandfather. For: $100. This was the car on which I learned certain important lessons, such as, yes, getting the oil changed regularly does matter. Eh, it got me around. Disposition: Sold it to a mechanic in my home town, who had a junkyard out back. I later heard that this car ended up being used in a demolition derby.

1970 Ford Torino. Color: Bright red. Bought: Summer 1983. From: Previous owner. For: $500. I loved this car, only reason I got rid of it years later was that it was getting so I could no longer find parts for it. This is the car in which I took a friend for a ride, and at a red light: "Now watch, when the light turns green, how powerful the engine is!" Light turned green, I floored it, and snapped the rear axle. Ah, the power of a 351 Cleveland V8! This is also the car which I once pushed up to over 115 mph, on a deserted blacktop straightaway up in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Disposition: To the junkyard, engine still in great shape with 238,000 miles on it.

1978 Ford Fairmont Station Wagon. Color: Dark blue. Bought: January 1987. From: A car dealer in Clinton, Iowa. For: $1400. This car ran nicely for about a year after I got it, then it became a matter of frequent minor repairs. The racket known as North Carolina annual vehicle certification didn't help, either: you just knew that mechanic was going to find some "necessary" and lucrative repair before he'd slap that annual sticker inside your windshield. Oh well, overall it got me around fairly reliably. Disposition: About to return to the Midwest, and knowing this vehicle didn't have much life left in it, I sold it for $1 to the guy I rented the Ryder truck from, as he had a small junkyard out back.

1985 Buick Somerset Regal. Color: Light green. Bought: January 1992. From: A car dealer in Madison, Wisconsin. For: $2600. Arrggghhh! This car was a mistake. An endless sinkhole for repairs. Over the years I replaced just about every working part in it except for the brakes. I was so dirt poor in those years (long story) that, once I got it paid for, repairing the car was lamentably always cheaper than replacing it. And eventually it developed a stalling problem which no mechanic on the face of the earth was ever able to banish for more than a couple of months at a time. Disposition: To the junkyard!!!

1991 Chevy S-10 Blazer. "The Aquamobile." Color: Public swimming pool aqua. Bought: February 2000. From: A car dealer in La Crescent, Minnesota. For: $4200. I loved the Aquamobile. It ran like a top. And it had the power and the 4-wheel drive to get me around on the steep winding gravel roads out here amidst the bluffs and hollows of northeast Iowa. Disposition: To the junkyard; after a long life, the transmission was about to go.

jeep cherokee
1992 Jeep Cherokee Laredo. Color: Grey. Bought: September 2005. From: Previous owner. For: $2500. This Jeep has rapidly risen in my affections to rival the old Aquamobile. Runs smoothly, handles comfortably, comfortable like a pair of old slippers. Far superior 4-wheel drive, has already saved my neck several times this winter. I wouldn't give it up for anything short of a Rolls Royce.

There you have it. Note, the combined sum total purchase price of all the vehicles I've owned over the past quarter century is only $11,300. Way less than a lot of people spend on a single car. You can drive cheaply, if you know what you're up to. (Well, except for that Buick.)



Anonymous Brett Fife said...

Congratulations! Impressive to say the least.

You have echoed my lamentations to friends, family and even strangers who pay too much and get too little from their automobile expenditures.

Currently driving a 1986 Buick Century (got it from my folks after I split from my wife, they were selling it for $500 but gave it to me) with just under 200000 miles on it. 91 Honda, 86 Nissan, 85 Cavalier, 84 Buick prior. Again, a great little tale of the engines that did.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 1:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Oooo. The Jeep is pretty. Which is all that matters to me 'cause I'm a girl. Well, except that now I'm a Mommy and I've decided that next time I need a tank. A pretty tank. With four-wheel drive.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 7:42:00 PM  

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