I have had a love affair for anything with four wheels and a steering wheel. My father and mother have an appreciation for cars, but my dad really fueled my love for cars. We often went to car shows where we had instant community. My favorite question to ask is, what can you tell me about your car? In an instant, their cheeks flush and their eyes sparkle as they share the story of meeting or making the car of their dreams. I have had a few automobiles in my life, what can I tell you about them?
You could easily see the family van from miles away. The striking red and white stripes seemed to glow and announced my presence before jumping down from the driver’s seat. I had a love/hate relationship with the van I learned to drive in. It was freedom and bondage at the same time. For example, I was privileged to drive the old Dodge to school, but if I made the decision to skip a class and go to the store without fail a friend of my mother’s would let her know that the family van was seen in such and such location during school hours. I was responsible for putting gas in it after I used the van, it was a thirsty vehicle and kept my wallet from becoming too bulky with extra cash.
My sister handed me the keys to the Sunbird after she bought herself a brand-new Geo Metro. I was really excited to have my own car, which had a Moon roof! I was the immediate chauffeur for my high school friends, younger siblings, and the last-minute grocery getter. The stereo system was an upgrade from the van because it played cassette tapes. My glove compartment was filled with tapes, so I could ride in style. If the four-seated car had any flaws, they were minor. The passenger-side seat belt did not work, and if I made an abrupt left turn the passenger door would open. The passenger door was missing most of the handle on the inside of the door so it was impossible to hold it closed on a sharp turn. This never decreased the demand to be a passenger in my car and always made left turns very exciting.
My Pontiac came to a sudden end when I decided to drive it up a logging trail. The engine overheated, but I was able to limp it home. My neighbor thought he would help cool the engine quickly. He unwrapped the garden hose and sprayed cold water all over the hot engine. All of these choices coalesced into the head cracking, which made the car useless, and it was hauled to the scrap heap. It was my turn to spend my money on a car, and my father took me to a car lot in Portland, OR. We looked at a few cars, and my eyes fell on a cute blue Ford Escort. I looked at the stereo system, and the cassette player had fast forward and rewind. It sealed the deal for me, and I bought it. My Escort was not much to look at, but I loved it and gave it the nickname Tocar La Guitarra. The doors stayed shut around corners, all seat belts worked, and the only issue was a slight leaking problem when it rained. I had several good years with my little Escort.
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I was still living at home when my Ford Escort was crunched by my sister. She was driving home in the family suburban and did not see my car. The bumper, fender, and headlight were all crunched. My sister was devastated and thought I was going to be upset. I was a little upset, but I was glad that she was okay. I immediately started looking for another car, and this time I was committed to buying a manual car. While driving past a high school parking lot, I saw an adorable convertible Geo Metro. I peeked inside and saw that it was automatic, but I really did not care because I was in love, and it was a convertible. I had to go to work, but I asked my father if he would check it out for me. My parents drove the car to my job, and my dad told me if I did not want to buy he would buy it for himself. I paid five-hundred dollars, and it was mine. I replaced the soft top and the rubber seals around the windows, but it still leaked like a sieve. It was worth going through the winter months just to enjoy the wonderful summers with the top down.
In my family, you are required to learn how to drive a stick shift. Okay, it may not be a requirement, but everyone has learned. I was ready to make the move to a car which stayed dry all year, around so I sold my Geo and bought a white Honda Civic SI. I loved this car from the beginning, from the tinted windows to the lowered stance. Learning to drive standard I was not so much in love with, but I did not have a choice if I wanted to get to work every day. My first day driving solo I got stuck in traffic on the freeway. I had plenty of practice clutch work starting in first gear and restarting the car after I killed it. It has all the modern conveniences and some of the classics too. I have a moon roof, cheap gas bill, and the thrill knowing I can drive standard.
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I fell in love with each car that was mine for a while. I still go to car shows and look under the hood, admire the paint jobs, and ask with a glint in my eye, what can you tell me about your car?