Saturday, September 16, 2006
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the cars I have had over the years.

I learned to drive in my parents' 1971 Pontiac LeMans Sport. I drove it in high school and college. I had all my early dates in that car. Lots of hauling friends around. Lots of memories. It seemed like a really old car back then even though it was only about eight years old when I started driving it. Today, an eight-year-old car doesn't seem very old. Of course, the LeMans had a lot of rust. Dad had it restored and the rust fixed during the time period in which I was driving it.

It was a pretty easy car to work on. The engine and other important parts seemed simple and understandable. I remember changing the oil, replacing brakes, thermostat, starter, plugs, points, wires, distributor, and alternator I think. It was a tad tempermental as it never wanted to run in damp weather. It died on me one day after school, blocking the driveway for other students to get out. The principal glared at me, but didn't offer to help. I got out and sprayed Wire Drier on the wires and then it started.

That car was at one point a matter of consternation between dad and me. He had agreed (I thought) to sell it to me and I had spent some money fixing it up and then I learned through mom that he decided he didn't want to sell it to me. He still owns it though it hasn't run in years. It sits in the plant at work, covered with layers of dust, on four very flat tires. I am sort of glad I didn't buy it.

Get this though -- it had an FM radio converter in it where the ash tray originally was. Dad put that in there. That was pretty cool. We used to listen to WTGN, the Christian station in Lima, on it. I never had a car with an 8-track player in it though my sister did. I never understood 8-track tapes.

I also drove my parent's Olds Cutlass when I was in school. It was a diesel so that was fun, especially in winter when it didn't want to start. I always liked that car though. White outside. Red inside. My dream car, which I have yet to own, was a 1976 Buick Regal. Red outside. White inside.

The first car I ever bought was before my senior year in college. A used 1984 Plymouth Laser. I remember I tried to put louvers on the back window but never got them to secure down properly. It was a pretty cool car for a college senior even though it was an ugly brown color. It had a standard transmission with a very finicky clutch. I was never able to teach Lisa how to drive it.

Shortly before Lisa and I got married, I bought a 1988 Dodge Daytona. That was my last car with standard transmission. Similar to the Laser in overall looks, it was black cherry in color. I actually gave it to the business as part of my equity when I bought into the business.

A couple of years later, the company was struggling a bit so we sold the car and I drove a company truck for awhile. It was really a pretty truck -- dark windows, dark maroon color. But it was an extended cab one-ton beast with a huge, thirsty engine. I decided I needed to quit driving it the morning I pulled out of our driveway at home and backed into our neighbor's car. Previous to that, it was his only car with color-matched fenders. I changed all that, quite unfortunately.

That was in 1991 and it was when I bought what was my pride and joy for a few years. An '88 Mustang 5.0 convertible. I didn't really know what I'd bought when I bought it. My uncle had to explain to me the value of it being a 5.0. All I knew was that it was bright red, with a white convertible top, and white interior, and it was pretty darned fast. I still have that car though it's in storage most of the time. It's a bad habit of mine that I never want to part with my cars. I dream of giving the Mustang to Evan some day though Lisa tells me she doesn't think it would be safe for him to have as his first car. Apparently that logic never applied to me though!

About the time I bought the Mustang, Lisa had a loaded two-door Grand Prix GTP. Bright blue with orange dash lights, it was one of my favorite cars we've had. Lisa's first car was an Oldsmobile Firenza that appeared to have been in a flood at some point. It was pretty bad. Then she had a Dodge Lancer. After that, she had a Dodge Intrepid, an Olds Intrique (which the company owns today and was the inspiration for the "INTRGD" plates that I have on my car), and then her Nissan Murano, the first "foreign" car we've ever had. I like it but I sort of think it looks like a '73 Gremlin. Lisa isn't too happy when I say that.

In 1994, I bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Loaded out -- even leather seats and a CD player. Chargold color. Beautiful SUV. I miss it.

And then I made a mistake, sort of ... I thought I wanted a Dodge Durango. Bright Red ... and huge. Reminded me of that GMC truck once I had it. I got tired of it. Thirsty and rough-riding. It was probably a pretty safe car, though, so eventually Lisa took it over and I drove her Intrigue. We had her drive the Durango because she was transporting Evan a lot when he was young and we thought he'd be safer in it. I said it was "sort of" a mistake though and that's because Lisa was driving it when someone ran a red light and hit her one day. She was safe in the Durango but probably would have been hurt in a smaller car. That's a good thing.

And then I bought the car I have today, A Chrylser Pacifica. I'm embarrassed to say I am not sure what year it is. I have really liked the Pacifica but its lease expires in a couple of months. The buy-out is thousands more than it's worth so ... that is why I have been thinking about cars.
I have thought about driving the Mustang for awhile ... until I took it for a spin a couple of weeks ago and remembered how badly it leaks in the rain. I remembered that, unfortunately, just as I took it through an automatic carwash. There's nothing like sitting in the driver's seat of a leaky convertible as you go through the carwash to really wake you up. It may be why I have a sinus infection right now.

So, what to do about my car situation? I really want to cut back on our car expense. That is important to me because I have come to realize that cars are a silly thing to spend large amounts of money on. Lots better things we can do with that money. Decent gas mileage would be good, too, in my next car. I am bothered by how quickly cars lose value -- much worse than it used to be. One of my thoughts is to buy a late 90s Mercedes if I can find one without real high miles. It would hold its value well if I kept it a couple of years. And, it would be about the same price as I paid for that first car I bought -- the used 1984 Laser.

It's easy to be tempted by all the bright shiny new cars though. I really had my eye for awhile on a new Dodge Charger Daytona RT -- orange with black stripes -- that was sitting at a local dealer for several weeks. I am really glad someone else bought it! As a couple of my friends have been blogging lately, the things we really ned, the things we really seek, are not the material things of this world. I've needed that reminder because I do have a weakness for cars.

  posted at 11:49 AM  


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Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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