To All the Cars I’ve Loved Before

Saturday morning, my brand new Hyundai Kona arrived on my doorstep. Well, technically the driveway. It would’ve been a bitch to drive up the stairs. My driver, Stan (I feel so posh saying “my driver”) arrived bright and early—about 8:45. He had left Sioux Falls that morning, super early. I don’t envy the guy, having to turn around and drive another five hours in the opposite direction, across a state that is mostly flat and featureless once you leave this area. I gave him a $20 tip for his troubles. Not sure what the protocol is, but the guy was a fellow Broncos fan, so that alone convinced me he was worthy.

After signing paperwork, handing over a check, and wrenching the license plates off my Mazda (in South Dakota, the plates stay with the owner), we were good to go! And go we did…Tara and I headed down a long stretch of gravel road in the middle of nowhere, SD, in search of sunflower fields. I kind of immediately regretted taking my shiny new SUV down such a punishing backroad, one that went on for miles and miles and miles, because within minutes it was coated in dust and dirt.

But she cleaned up nicely.

Oh, and those sunflower fields? Totally worth a little dirt.

South Dakota is actually the largest producer of sunflowers in the United States. North Dakota is #2 and Texas, #3. Betcha didn’t know that!

It’s safe to say I’m in love with my new Kona. But isn’t that always the case with new (or new-to-us) cars? I have now owned eight vehicles in my life, and I thought it would be fun to show ’em off and write a blurb or two about each. Some of the photos are photos of photos, and one I had to steal off the internet. So, from oldest to newest, let’s ride!

Chevrolet Chevette

My first car…which is pretty much the only redeeming thing about it. Being in high school, I liked to ask the ladies whether they wanted to “go for a ride in my ‘Vette.” Imagine their disappointment when they learned it was a CHEvette rather than a CORvette. This thing would inexplicably lose power on the freeway, had a broken gas gauge (yes, I ran out of gas one time), and—in case you hadn’t noticed—was yellow. This being the late ’80s, I had it painted candy apple red and tinted the glass.

Still didn’t change the fact that it was a piece of crap.

Honda Civic

Sensing that my ‘Vette was on its last legs, my parents graciously helped me buy a brand new Honda Civic when I was in college. These were quite popular at the time, and I was giddy with excitement. It was a huge step up from my first car and even had a sunroof! I loved that Civic; it was stylish (at the time) and dependable. I only drove it a couple of years, because fickle fellow that I am, a new beauty caught my eye…

Saturn SC

The year was 1993. Fresh out of college, I’d just interviewed with a manufacturing company and fully expected a job offer, so I did what any rational person would under those circumstances: I went out and bought a sporty little coupe before anything was official. In teal, no less, which was super trendy at the time. I thought my Saturn was the coolest thing ever, right down to the pop-up headlights, and I gotta admit: that thing turned heads. Strangers were always approaching me to ask questions about it. The only drawback was the stupid automatic seatbelts; good in theory, but there’s a reason they no longer exist: the damn things were a choking hazard. Still, I would have driven that thing forever, but traded it in after two years for a much more practical car…

Saturn Sedan

Oh, hi dad!

If you’re wondering why I would willingly give up a car I loved dearly after only a couple of years, it’s because my first wife was pregnant with our kid-to-be, Rusty…and I was practical as shit. The idea of trying to squeeze a child seat in the back of a two-door coupe wasn’t appealing in the least. So, as much as it pained me, I traded her in for the sedan. It wasn’t too big a compromise—I had a sunroof again!–but it wasn’t nearly as much fun to drive. And once again, I didn’t drive it for very long, because we moved to Oregon that year (1994) and within two weeks of arriving, I slid through a red light at an intersection because I hadn’t driven in snow in eight years and was unprepared for that. Clearly, something had to change, so it did.

Toyota RAV4

I can’t find a photo of my actual RAV4, but it looked almost exactly like this. All it took was one terrifying incident sliding through an intersection for me to realize I needed an SUV to tackle winter weather (sound familiar?). The RAV4 did a capable job of that, although in retrospect, PNW winters don’t really demand all wheel drive. At least not the way South Dakota winters do! But the peace of mind was worth the investment. This was the first and last vehicle I would ever lease, because when the five years were up, I handed over the keys with nothing to show for. Never again. At least I broke my streak of giving up cars every 2-3 years.

Hyundai Santa Fe

I liked driving an SUV so much, I bought another one after handing over the RAV4. What I did not like was the color black, because it showed every speck of dirt and was a bitch to keep clean, so I went the complete opposite direction and bought a white car this time. I learned later that white wasn’t much better! But the Santa Fe was a dream. I owned that baby for 13 years and well over 100,000 miles. She took me all the way from Washington to Ohio and back, and down to Fresno, and out to Ely, Nevada many times. Never had a single problem with her, either (which is why I just bought a new Hyundai). Best part of all: not having a car payment for eight years. But eventually she began to show her age, and it was time to move on.

Mazda3

Finally admitting that PNW winters didn’t require SUVs and desiring a change after driving them for 18 years, I bought this sporty little Mazda in 2015. It was love at first sight. She was stylish, peppy, and fun to drive. And came loaded with so much technology I practically had to learn how to drive all over again. I had every intention of holding onto her at least as long as I’d driven my Santa Fe…

…but then we moved to South Dakota. Which, at the time, wasn’t even in the back of my mind. The very idea would have felt ludicrous, impossible. But life has a funny way of throwing you curveballs, doesn’t it? And while I managed to navigate two Rapid City winters with my Mazda, a lot of those were white-knuckle drives. So I worked my ass off all last year to save up money for a new SUV, and now, here we are. To open roads and new adventures!



Categories: Travel

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34 replies

  1. Mark, I think it was AWESOME of that guy to drive the car to you!

    And btw, the car is a beaut! Love the color. I had a friend in Florida who LOVED red cars. In fact, every car she ever bought was RED.

    Stunning photos of the sunflowers. Sunflowers always look like they’re smiling! 🙂

    My first car was Chevrolet as well. It was a Chevy Nova and that thing lasted me for YEARS an YEARS. It’s still the longest-lasting car I ever owned. I was so sad when that thing eventually died.

    I also had a Toyota and a Hyundai. And several Geo’s. I think I’ve owned a total of five cars in my life.

    The best to you and your new set of wheels, my friend!

    Happy driving!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Before I bought the RAV4, I considered the Geo Tracker. Like Saturn though, Geo no longer exists. Too bad; I liked their cars.

      I had a high school friend who drove a Nova and he loved it!

      I think it’s interesting how I have always dramatically switched up the color of my cars.

      Like

  2. Well, that was fun. I’m only on my second car. I’ve had it since 2001. Ford Focus. Window cranks, tape deck that doesn’t work, nor does the radio. My dad taught me that a car just needs to get you from point A to point B, and it does. But if I were to care about what car I drove, an original Ford Mustang would be it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We were a Saturn family growing up, too. Well, the first car I remember my parents owning was a Plymouth Reliant (I would buy you a K-Car, a nice Reliant automobile), but then we graduated to a blue Saturn station wagon we affectionately named Beulah. We had her at least until I graduated college. Then Mom got a Honda Civic and Dad got a Saturn Ion (which he’s since traded in for a Subaru Impreza). But I miss Beulah. We called her the Tupperware car because the panels were plastic!
    My high school/college boyfriend had a Honda Prelude with the pop-up headlights. I used to call it the Jar Jar Binks car. God, I hated it so much! I think he did too but hey when you’re at the mercy of your parents, you can’t be too picky.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My sisters and I drove around a used little ‘Vette just like yours until it died when we were in high school. And yes, we used the same pick up line on guys. Had a Mazda Protege, too–until it got rear ended and totaled.

    Your new car looks amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Chevettes and Saturns. Boy, you must have been a real chick magnet back in the day…
    😈

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the family album of all the cars in your life! My brother is the same way. I don’t think he’ll ever get rid of the STI. Your first outing with the new girl, looks like fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is amazing how many cars we go through in a lifetime. My first car was a white 1963 Dodge Dart, 3 on the wheel, burgundy front bumper seat. No A/C, manual, AM radio…but damn I loved that car and wish I still had it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The sunflowers are beautiful…oh, but you can’t drive them….so I will take a car.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your new vehicle is pretty and looks like the cherry on top of a sundae. I like your rundown of the cars you owned. It makes me wonder if I have any photos of the cars I’ve had. Probably not, never thought to photograph them. Had I known I’d become a blogger, things would have been different. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved your trip down memory lane, uh, I mean highway? For what it’s worth, I loved my old Saturn, too. Glad to see you’ve never bought a Ford. I’d recommend keeping it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m only on my 6th car! It was fun to see the progression. The massive sunflower field I posted about last year has not bloomed yet. It will be another 3 to 4 weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congrats on your new ride!!!!!

    I’ve had a total of 4 cars.
    My Dad gave me his Ford LTD when I learned how to drive. It was a huge boat of a car. Drove it until it became a fire hazard.
    Next up was a Renault Encore. Piece. Of. Crap. Drove it until it was falling apart.
    Next was a Honda Civic CX, I think. Had over 100,000 miles on that thing and would’ve put 100,000 more except one 4th of July some thieves in the night stripped it.
    Bought myself a black New Beetle, which I adored. Had to leave him behind when I hopped on a plane in 2016 to take care of my Mom in Arkansas. Poor Bugsy has been sitting in my garage in L.A. for 4 years. Probably full of spiders by now.
    Here in Arkansas I’m driving my Dad’s ancient Suzuki XL7, which I expect to fall apart every week when I make my Walmart run in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your Beetle sounds like a great car! Any chance you’ll go retrieve it someday?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t see any chance of getting back home to L.A. until after my Mom is gone. Can you ever drive a car that has sat for years and years? Or is a tow truck and the scrap heap the only option? Dunno. I’ve already made peace with my loss and look forward to a cute SUV of some sort when I get back. I like to go hiking so I want something that can haul me, my friends and all our gear.

        Like

  13. Groovy post. I like your new ride. I have about a year to figure out what I want to drive next, and if I want to buy, finance, lease, etc. I am really, pleasantly, fortunately, blessed to be stressed about it. For the first time in 21 years, this vehicle will be about only ME and MY needs. SO weird!

    Liked by 1 person

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