To All the Cars I've Known

Our recent purchase of a new vehicle represented a rare event in our lives. In our almost-40 years of marriage, we've owned relatively few cars. We tend to keep cars for a long time (if not for high mileage; our commutes have generally been short to non-existent).

Anyway, I made a deal to sell the Durango - the car that is being replaced by the new Honda - and the disposal of that 11 year old vehicle brought to mind the relatively short list of the other cars we've owned. I'm sure you're dying to know more, so here goes.

  • 1972 Chevy Malibu - Did I mention that I had to get married in order to get a car? Debbie brought this red coupe with a snazzy white vinyl top with her, and we drove it through college and into the early '80s. It was a lightning rod for collisions (not our fault), and we were poor enough that we always used the insurance money for more important things (like food and rent) and so it was the most beat up of any of our cars when we finally donated it to an unknown person at the behest of our church's benevolence ministry.

  • 1977 Olds Cutlass - This was our first new car purchase, and our first "grown-up" car. It was loaded, and I can still remember the salesman warning us about the expense as we went through the checklist of options we wanted added to the vehicle. Little did he realize that we were large-living DINKs (and our family income probably totaled all of $20K at that time, but, still...). We kept this one until 1985, when it became the only car we ever traded in for a new one (and we'll never do another trade-in, by the way).

  • 1981 VW Sirocco - This was the closest I'll ever get to having a sports car, although this admittedly wasn't very close. But it did have five-on-the-floor and Recaro bucket seats. My most vivid memories were of the way it reliably died during the slightest street flooding in Midland (and at that time in the city's history, a heavy dew could cause such flooding), and how I successfully hotwired it after losing my keys in the lake one afternoon while windsurfing. We gave this car to family members in the early '90s.

  • 1985 Chevy Suburban - This was the workhorse of our stable. We actually ordered three of these at the same time, one for us, one for my parents, and one for Debbie's parents (no, we didn't pay for all of them). We hauled more gear to more places with this big honkin' V8 gas guzzler. On one trip we had a full set of scuba gear, two windsurfboards, and a tandem bicycle. This was the last car we owned to have a carburetor, a weak link that stranded us twenty miles north of Roswell one summer. I'd like to blame aliens, but the real villains were working in the shop where the car was towed, diagnosed with a bad (and expensive to replace) fuel pump, and then sent us on our way, limping back to Midland only to learn that we needed a carb rebuild. We sold the Suburban in the mid-90s.

  • 1993 Chrysler Concorde - We began a string of Mopar purchases with this green sedan, which was the most expensive car we'd owned. It was well-appointed and had a surprisingly powerful motor...and a surprisingly harsh ride. It was quite reliable and required no significant repairs, until we gave it to Debbie's parents in the early 00s, at which time everything started breaking. However, Debbie's dad is still driving it, so it's got something going for it.

  • 1995 Plymouth Neon - We may be the only people in the world to have owned a Neon that wasn't made by Dodge, and I'm still not sure how we ended up with a Plymouth. Of course, the two models were identical except for the logos. We had the dealership add power locks to this basic run-errands-around-town car (I think we took it out on the highway exactly once), and they came with a funky security system wherein the doors locked automatically within about ten seconds, whether the keys were out of the ignition or not. And if you didn't override the system just right, you had to put up with all the interior lights flashing for an interminable period, which made for some freaky nighttime errands. We gave this car to family members in the mid-00s.

  • 1999 Dodge Durango - We're now in the Modern Era, sort of. The Durango proved to be the most reliable and versatile vehicle we owned to that point. It got pretty good gas mileage, had very few mechanical eccentricities (aside from occasionally having to pop the hood and jiggle some wires to get it started), and it, too, did more than its share of hauling stuff for us. I've had up to fifty bags of cypress mulch crammed into the interior and strapped to the hitch-mounted cargo carrier. And, of course, we're now in the process of selling it.

  • 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe - This is Debbie's current car, a little SUV that has a great combination of reliability, versatility, and economy. The only problem we've had with it thus far is a stuck disc in the CD player, and who listens to CDs anymore, anyway? I've transferred the XM radio from the Durango to the Santa Fe, which solves her music listening issues. She's putting about 6,000 miles per year on this car, so I expect it to be around a while.

  • 2010 Honda Ridgeline - This, of course, brings us up-to-date with the family car history (I intentionally left out the motorcycles, by the way...and the bicycles). As you would expect, the new pickup was more expensive than any of its predecessors - it didn't cost much less than our first house - but it's got all the bells and whistles that any urban cowboyish sort of tinhorn might want. It's a keeper.

So there you have it: just nine cars in 37 years. I actually know people who have owned that many cars in three years.

Here's a final interesting (well, to me) thread that runs through this vehicular history: every one of these cars was either red or gray, in some shade or another, except for the Concorde, which was a nice dark green. I'm sure that's a sign of our schizophrenia; we're either screaming for attention or trying to fade into the background.


I'm not sure I can actually remember all the cars I've owned over the years. The oldest was a '53 Buick, the newest is a '98 Cadillac I'm still driving it (or will when it gets released from the shop tomorrow).

The fastest a '72 Corvette, the slowest, a '67 Datsun. It wasn't so slow I didn't manage to get a speeding ticket in it.

A quick count is 16 vehicles since 1970. The most horrifying thing is that two of them were orange - the 'vette and a 1982 Buick Regal.

What surprises me most about your list is the eclectic assortment. I would have guessed you to be loyal to a single maker, kind of like your Apple theology. ;-). BTW my list is 9 also but I didn't own a car until 1983. It was all bicycles before that.

"I've had up to fifty bags of cypress mulch crammed into the interior and strapped to the hitch-mounted cargo carrier."

Wow, next to the invention of Velcro and Duct tape, this rates pretty high on my Man-o-meter. Impressive. Would have loved to see a pic of that.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on July 27, 2010 1:02 PM.

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