Sunday, April 14, 2013

pulled over on nostalgia lane

On our road trip, Darrel and I talked about the cars we have owned.  As men of our age are wont to do.

I laid down a challenge -- that I could name all of the cars I have owned. And then dared him to do it.  I won.

But the contest was not fair.  I have only owned nine cars.  He has easily owned double that.  One for only two days.  The longest for 14 years.

Because my list is short, I thought I would share it with you.  The subsequent conversation should prove to be interesting.

Car #1.  You already know about this beauty.  My 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible that I wrote about in not my father's oldsmobile.  I drove it through my first years in the Air Force. 

I suspect I sold it to be certain the driving tales associated with it would disappear along with the title.  If you buy me dinner, I might share a few.

But you would hear the best car tales about my 1973 240Z -- Car #2.  For a number of reasons, it is still my favorite car.  Certainly for the time I had it.  You read about the car in on the road with donny datsun three years ago.

It accompanied me on assignment in Greece for one year.  Where I would regularly drive it on the Greek expressway at 120 miles per hour.  At least, according to the speedometer. 

To be in your early 20s is to doubt that death exists.  Just writing the number 120 is enough to bring back great memories of that Spartan little sport car.

After Greece, the 240Z and I took a road trip through Greece, up through Italy, across France, and into the United Kingdom.  Where both car and driver stayed land-locked for two years.  With the exception of a loop up through Scotland, across to Northern Ireland, down through the Republic of Ireland, and over to Wales.  Where I was repeatedly treated as I was an IRA sympathizer.

And because it was the 1970s, my speed dropped, though my love of driving did not.

Car #3 -- a 1981 Datsun 200ZX -- came along as a matter of practicality.  I had opened a law practice with a friend from law school, and extravagance was not what I needed at the time. 

My memory is that, even the car was new, it could be classified only as utilitarian.  But hardly memorable.  Well, other than the fact that I purchased it with a brief case full of cash.  But that is a story for another day.

Car #4 -- a 1983 Pontiac STE -- started a trend for me with new cars.  The body looked like almost all of the GM cars of that model.  But it had the soul of a sport car. 

With a 3.1 litre 6 cylinder engine that provided an amazing amount of power and a suspension and steering capability that would have made an Astin Martin driver smile.

But my heart was quickly won over by Ford's then-new sedan -- a 1986 Ford Taurus LTE.  Car #5.

Its handling was not quite as good as the Pontiac.  But its dash had enough readouts to satisfy a Microsoft employee. 

In the 1970s there was a Shell commercial that showed a very primitive computer calculating miles per gallon as a car drove along sucking Shell gasoline out of a laboratory beaker.  I had lusted for a similar calculator in my car.  A decade later, there it was.

With its computer and leather seats, I felt I had arrived as a successful almost-young lawyer.

Until Car #6 came along.  My law partner was interested in buying a BMW as a safety car for his growing family.  His first son had just been born. 

I agreed to accompany him to the dealer.  But I was not interested in a new car.  My Taurus was the love of my life.

While he looked around at hardtops, a red 1988 BMWi sitting in the showroom caught my eye.  By the time he was done looking, I had purchased the convertible, and I was tooling home -- with a new innovation.  A CD player.  And the Taurus was on a used car lot.

For sheer driving pleasure, that car almost matched my memories of the 240Z.  Unfortunately, I could not really compare them properly.  Where was I going to drive 120 MPH in Oregon?

The BMW was the only car I leased.  When I took a job that added 100 commuting miles each day, I knew I needed to find something different.  Or I would go broke paying for excess mileage at the end of the lease term. 

And I did find something different.  I held onto the BMW and bought a second car (to save money -- you can stop that sniggering).  The stepchild of my car ownership.  Car #7.  A used brown Ford Taurus. 

I almost forgot about it.  It is that forgettable.  By that time, the Taurus had turned into the standard rental car.  And they were everywhere.  I eventually gave it to my father.

Car #8 got me back on track, though.  I traded the BMW in for America's 1990s answer to the Japanese luxury sedans that had cornered an entire piece of the American market.  A 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora.

It had the lines of its Japanese competition.  And great handling for a car of its size. 

The day I bought it, I had to be at a political meeting in Portland.  There was a slight drizzle, but I could not figure out why everyone was driving so slow.  I looked at the speedometer: I was driving 100 MPH.  I pulled back on the throttle.

By this point in my career, the car fit me.  A middle-aged attorney in his big car.  Not to mention, that Jiggs loved the luxury of the lather seats.

The Aurora came to an untimely end in 2001.  We were T-boned by a Jeep driven by a dad who was rushing his young son back to the ex-wife following a custody visitation.  The car was totaled.

Having had my fling with larger and larger cars, I decided to try something new.  An SUV.

Ford had just been released the Escape in 2001, and that was car #9.  A truck that would become known in Mexico as the Shiftless Escape.

But you know those stories. 

I am now ready to buy my tenth vehicle -- my eighth new vehicle -- in Mexico.  A vehicle that will reflect my personality in my seventh decade. 

And you are going to get to share in the adventures as they occur.  But that means getting back to Mexico.  Something I will do in a week or two.


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