Cars That I Have Owned

I stole this idea from XL a long time ago. If there were any money involved I supposed I might owe him some, but since there isn't ... thpppppt!

I've had a lot of cars in my lifetime. And since this is my blog and you can't stop me, I'm going to tell you all about every single one of them in annoying detail.

1971 Olds 98

This 20 foot long rolling living room was my very first car. It was dark metallic blue, except for one brown fender resulting from my brother intentionally smashing the car before giving it to me. The back seat was as big as a standard couch and the front was just as good. All it needed was a TV and a bathroom and I could have lived inside comfortably. It also had a 455 cubic inch engine rated at 360 horsepower and 500 ft/lbs of torque, and came with the optional posi traction rear end. It was fun learning to drive with a car that would spin both rear tires non-stop until you decided to let off the pedal, but it was hell on gas.

My brother never forgave me for inheriting the car, which had been Mom's, then his, then after much abuse and drug hauls, it became mine. So after I had had the car for only a year, he convinced My Father that he 'needed' that car, in addition to the car he already had, and that I should have to get something else. Dad loved my brother, unlike the way he felt about me, so he was more than happy to yank it from me and give it back to the son who had ripped the fender off on a tree trunk just because he was so angry that he was having to give the giant land yatch to me and get something new, something which Dad paid for, and something which was much cooler than the tired old Olds.

While all of this was going on, My Father had miraculously begun to notice that for 12 long years I had worked my ass off in school and done very well. He promised to buy me a car for graduation as a reward for working so hard and doing so well. He set a price range for used cars and said I could choose what I wanted as long as it was cheap. I chose a 1971 Camaro and found one for the exact price he had set as my limit. But what he bought instead was a coworker's wife's car, a car that looked like nothing I had ever seen before and which I initially thought looked like a weird, warped Chevelle.

1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

It was horseshit green, underpowered by a 2-barrel carburetor, and a complete unknown to me. I had never seen one of these cars before in my entire life, let alone ever wanted one. But it had bucket seats and a console shifter, which was pretty cool. Also, it only had 2 doors instead of 4, a step in the right direction. And it was entirely the correct color, with no primer black replacement panels or a mismatched junkyard fender like the Olds had. All-in-all it was better than I had expected from My Father, considering how little he thought of me.

I drove it for 3 years before wiping out in a rainstorm and tearing up the front end pretty badly while on my way to physics lab at the university. It was going to take me quite awhile to fix it while simultaneously going to school, so I needed something else in the meantime. My Dad had bought a car that he had originaly intended for me to drive when my brother took the Olds, but I hadn't wanted it at all because it looked like raggedy rusted ass. Dad was hooked on it and bought it anyway. But he didn't really need it. When my Monte Carlo was temporarily out of service, he loaned it to me. It was yet another car I had never seen or even heard of before.

1969 Buick Wildcat

It had belonged to a 98 year old woman whose son had to take it away from her because she had rammed it into her own house without realizing it and then backed it down her driveway, up the neighbor's driveway, and run over their fence, all without having the slightest idea that she had done anything wrong. She was a shit driver. And it was a huge tank of a car. And also it had apparently been underwater at some point, as we later discovered.

It had a 430 cubic inch high compression engine, bucket seats, and a console shifter. It only had 67,000 original miles on it. It still had the original 2-ply 70-series tires it had come off the assembly line with. It looked like hell, but it would scream like an angry bitch when you stepped on the gas. Every time I pulled up next to another driver in a Mustang GT or an IROC Camaro, they would look over at the car, which sat about 4 inches off the ground, as you can see in the picture, sneer at the scripted 'Wildcat' on the fender, and then attempt to race me when the light turned green. This was in the early '90s when an IROC Camaro or Mustang GT was the fastest thing on the road and yet still fairly anemic. I quickly learned that the smelly old Wildcat could blow the doors off any IROC without half trying. The Mustang GTs gave it a better challenge, but not much, and never beat it. In fact, I never lost a race in the Wildcat to anything.

It was rusted, ragged, painted by me in my dad's garage using an air compressor and lacquer paint, and smelled like mold inside. I did everything I could for the car, switching it from the used crude oil that my father would pour into it after draining it from his other cars (I shit you not) to Mobil 1 20W-50 fully synthetic oil. The rings were shot and whenever I pushed the pedal down, along with the screaming, knocking, '60s big block roar, there would be a huge cloud of gasoline vapor spewing from the tailpipe, creating a blinding toxic haze behind me. Also, every race used exactly 1 quart of crude oil, which meant that I had to watch the oil level very carefully. Once I switched it to the good stuff the oil burning situation improved dramatically, but rings that are shot are still rings that are shot, no matter what oil you pour into the engine. The windshield leaked whenever it rained, pissing on my leg as I drove. And the ball joints were shot, too, so I went through a set of tires every three months or so.

I learned to mount my own tires using a bead breaker and 2 tire irons and was pretty damn good at it before long. I discovered that Super Shops, located nearby the house, sold a lot of new tires. They didn't have any use for the old tires they pulled off the musclecars they were installing the new tires on, so they just threw them into the dumpster. A friend of mine worked there and would call me whenever they threw out a really good set of low-profile performance tires so I could go get them. The Wildcat started off with a set of shit 2-ply tires, but quickly ended up in Eagle GT 60-series performance radials, which lowered it so much that I frequently bottomed out and scraped the frame on the road whenever I crossed a bridge or train tracks.

The car was a blast, but it was a mess. In the end, it was unsaveable, needing a total frame-off restoration just to deal with the rust and worn out suspension. And ultimately, it wasn't mine to keep. At least, not yet. Eventually Dad wanted it back. Meanwhile, the Monte Carlo was still under reconstruction. So I had to buy another substitute.

1976 Buick Skylark

It was sitting in a sell-it-yourself lot with a sign saying 'needs timing chain'. It was only $200. It was something I would never have bought under normal circumstances, but I was desperate and still in school. And I had already put a timing chain in the Wildcat, so I knew how much of a huge pain in the ass it was, but also that I could do it. So I bought it.

It was a Nova-clone, built on the same half-frame and unibody design as the Chevy Nova. It had a 260 cubic inch V8. It made 140 horsepower. It had air shocks and was jacked up in the back. The tires were skinny and the hubcaps were wire spokes. It was maroon and gay-looking. But once I put on a new timing chain it ran ... well, it ran. The motor had a tick. It just ticked constantly. I don't know why. Nothing was broken. It just ticked.

Once again, I had a car with bucket seats and a console and a funky push-button shifter. There were fishing poles in the back seat. I don't know why the previous owner left them there. I guess he didn't want to fish anymore.

My friend at Super Shops called me around the time I had just gotten the car running to tell me that a pair of superwide low-profile tires had just landed in their dumpster. Once I yanked the tall, skinny tires off the back wheels and replaced them with the big-assed, superwides, the car took on a whole new look. It suddenly had an aggressive stance. It was slower than a drunken turtle, but it looked like a bad-ass motherfucker. The same drivers in the musclecars that wanted to race the Wildcat, only to get their asses handed to them along with 2 big lungfulls of smelly toxic smoke, didn't want anything to do with my Skylark. It was all show and no go, but it was enough as long as no one was willing to challenge it to a race. And most importantly, it got me to class.

I had the car about a year, I guess, when a guy from Seattle turned in front of me in his big-assed Toyota luxury car. And he just stopped there, with his car blocking both lanes heading that direction, and stared at the curb in front of him. I don't know what kind of Toyota it was. It was the biggest Toyota car I had ever seen. And it was cutting me off without leaving me anywhere to go to avoid it. So I hit it. I hit it so hard that I knocked it completely out of the road and up the curb, where it landed, minus both back wheels, perfectly parked in the grass. Unfortunately, the damage it did to my Skylark was pretty extreme. And the insurance company totalled it.

Once again, I needed a temporary ride. My brother called. He had a car I could get for $100 and a bag of weed. I didn't have any weed. So he settled for just the $100.

1973 Mazda RX3 Wagon

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Mazda RX3. In fact, I didn't know that Mazda had even existed in 1973, but apparently they did. And apparently they made an RX3, available in coupe or stationwagon, too. It had the same rotary engine that all Mazda RX models have. It also had a 4-speed manual transmission, the first car I had ever owned without a V8 engine and with a manual transmission. It had a smashed front fender. I had been doing extensive bodywork on my Monte Carlo, so I was fairly experienced by this time with hammering out dents. Much to my surprise, I was able to push the giant dent out of the Japanese fender using nothing more than the palm of my own hand. The ease with which the fender folded in my hands did nothing to inspire confidence in me, but at least the dent was gone.

The 1973 RX3 had a funny quirk. It seems that it had been the subject of multiple recalls when new. There had been a problem with the rotary engine blowing up when revved too high. It wasn't Mazda's fault. It was the new car owners revving the engines to the moon, which it would easily do. Nevertheless, the exploding motors had hurt Mazda's reputation, so they had recalled the cars twice to 'detune' them. In the end, they ended up with an engine that wouldn't blow up, but backfired through the exhaust every single time it was turned off, blowing the muffler clean off the car. Mazda's solution to this backfiring problem was to recall the car a third time and run a separate pipe along the full length of the exhaust pipe just to allow the engine to backfire without exploding the muffler.

I shit you not.

The car was fun. Except for the night I hit a concrete barrier mysteriously installed on Interstate 565 where it served no purpose and was almost impossible to see after dark. I hit the barrier while merging onto I565 at a speed of about 65 mph. My car launched over the barrier, completely leaving the ground while in mid-turn, and landing on 2 wheels in the middle of the interstate. I had the wheel turned hard to the right in order to stay on the road. I was maintaining the 2-wheel stunt ride as I found myself looking down at the very edge of the asphalt where the road ended and the grass began. If I slipped one inch further to the left I would slide across the grass and into the oncoming interstate traffic. So for what seemed like an eternity I drove along on this tightrope, travelling at 65 mph, and still up on 2 wheels. It was probably only a few seconds, but it felt like 10 minutes. I was finally able to straighten the car out and bring it back down onto all 4 wheels again.

There was a lot of traffic behind me, but no one wanted to pass. Everyone was driving along behind me with a look on their faces like a circus audience wondering "what the hell is he going to do next?"

Aside from this one pants-pissing, heart attack experience, I had no problems driving the car. It was fun and useful and got about a million miles per gallon compared to most of my previous cars. It was the first Japanese car I had ever owned and was more like a go-kart to me than a real car. But it was reliable. It never broke down on me, even after the Speed Racer-like jump I had accidentally subjected it to. And sometimes, when I was in a bad mood or just feeling like a redneck, it was really funny to pull into a parking lot and turn off the car, only to have it backfire and scare the living shit out of every single person in the general area.

Let me make this clear, when this car backfired it sounded like a .38 caliber handgun being fired right next to you. It was loud. Even when you knew it was coming it still made you jump.

I hadn't had the car even a month when my mother came to me, telling me about how my oldest sister had gone through a divorce and needed a car and would I give the car to her for the same $100 I had paid for it? I really needed more money than that, but I knew my sister needed something to drive. So I agreed to the deal.

My sister didn't have the car for any longer than I had when she told my father that the car was a huge embarrassment, which it was. It's not bad enough to be 30 and getting a divorce, having to move with your kids to your parents house to go back to college, only to be stuck driving a funky little car that sounds like it's exploding every time you turn off the ignition. So my father traded her his Cadillac and he took the Mazda.

Dad LOVED the Mazda. He LOVED going to the gas station and pulling in right in the middle of all the other drivers who had stopped for gas, turning off the ignition, and watching everyone leap out of their pants when the bomb went off. He laughed his ass off every time. It was the best toy he had ever received and he made the most of it.

Meanwhile, my brother had another car to sell me.

1973 Toyota Corolla

My brother had pulled it from a ditch for a drunken friend. It turned out to be the same friend who had put the Mazda RX3 into a ditch, causing the crumpled fender that I had repaired using only my bare hand. It was $200 and only needed a few minor tweaks before being safe enough to drive. My brother gleefully informed me that it had Amsoil fully synthetic motor oil in it and therefore "you don't ever need to change the oil!"

It was another 2-door, 4-speed manual with the big 1.6 liter engine, the largest offered that year by Toyota. It was orange-ish. Upon closer inspection it became obvious that it was painted with a brush. And housepaint. It also had a strange brown cable running out the rear passenger vent window and into the trunk. This turned out to be lamp cord which was mysteriously being used to power the taillights. Why it wasn't run under the rear seat and through the trunk was a question I never got to ask, but I always wondered.

The car had 80-series tires on it and looked like it could go off-roading without any trouble. I could bark the tires shifting from 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, and on rare occasions when shifting from 3rd to 4th gear. I'll be honest, I drove the shit out of this car. I viewed it as nothing more than a toy, like a motorcycle with a roof and doors, and I treated it accordingly. The only motorcycle I had ever owned was a Suzuki dirt bike, and that's how I drove this car. One afternoon, while racing to Dynamics class at the engineering building, I jumped a grass median, sending the car flying through the air and into the middle of an intersection, in order to beat the light before it could turn red. I bounced into the intersection like the Dukes of Hazard in the General Lee, and then intentionally whipped it hard around the turn in a heavy skid, before flying across the campus lawn to the parking lot of the engineering building. And the little car had no problem with that at all. It didn't offer the slightest complaint.

The longer I drove this little Toyota go-kart, and the more I jumped it and slammed the gears, and spun it around in the dirt, all without breaking a single part or being stranded a single time, the more I began to respect the shit out of the car. It was awesome!

And about the time I realized what a cool little toy it was, a guy in a Nissan minitruck hit me head-on in rush hour traffic. It was his fault, but nevertheless the frame was bent and the car was totalled.

I sold the car for $175, still running and still driveable, but in need of about $500 in frame and front end repairs.

Again I needed a car. Again my brother appeared just in the nick of time with a mysterious bargain car he had gotten from a mysterious friend.

1974 Dodge Polara

For $50 and my Gibson SG-1 electric guitar, this Blues Brothers tank was all mine. It was a car that rednecks had banned from smash-up derby competitions along with the stationwagon version of the same car because it was totally indestructible and thus declared 'unfair' for their smash-up contests (I am dead serious.)

While I was in college and driving this car, the city had been doing construction on a section of road near some government housing projects. There were big orange and white striped barrels filled with sandbags lining the road where the construction was going on. Late at night, the ghetto children liked to push those barrels out into the middle of the road, forcing people to stop and move the barrels, only to get attacked and robbed by the oppressed little future-Obama supporters.

I had to work late every Friday night. I usually drove through this area of ghetto fun at 2 a.m., often finding the barrels blocking my way. I was disinclined to stop and move them while oppressed 'protected class' individuals fired guns at me, so I just rammed the barrels down and drove on. Other than leaving some orange paint on my bumper it did no damage to the car at all (thank God I didn't have fucking 'crumple zones' or air bags!) This became a weekly game for me and the ghetto Obamas, but I always won, smashing lots and lots of barrels.

The car had brakes that would quite literally slam your face into the steering wheel if you weren't expecting them. You could stop this 4600 pound monster on a dime. I hadn't had the car for even a full year when my brother got stoned and spray-painted obscenities all over it, which he claimed was "to piss off his neighbors." Once he sobered up I forced him to either repaint the car or give me another one. He happened to have a Chevy belonging to a friend that was parked in his front yard that he said I could take for $50 and my Dodge. I took the deal and he took the Dodge out trail-riding with his friends. They jumped it, hit trees, even shot it. The car didn't die until he jumped it enough times that he broke a ball joint on the front suspension and had to limp home, where he oddly chose to park the damaged vehicle on his front lawn. His friends then took hammers and bats to the body and tried to smash it. All they managed to do was to break the windows. After that he says he towed it to a friend's land where they all got high, shot it, and burned it, before pushing the flaming remains over a cliff. Idiot.

1974 Chevy Caprice Classic

Another $50, my Dodge, and 2 months of damned hard work to figure out what the hell was wrong with the car, and it was my daily cruiser. I drove this thing for years, even taking it to Atlanta in rush hour traffic for a job interview in Norcross, Georgia, just on the outskirts of Atlanta. It rode better than My Mom's Cadillac, but it only had a 2-barrel carburetor and single exhaust, which made it hard for the 400-cubic-inch small block engine to breathe properly. Also, the car had been down in Florida for a number of years, giving it some salty sea air rust here and there. It was pea-green, and not a pretty deep green either, but a faded, pale pea green that was apparently popular with the same '70s people who wore pea-green suits and wide ties. I liked the car, but it had been mislabeled by GM as having a 350 and the resulting chaos of a few 350-specific parts being installed on the little 400 drove me insane. So I sold it to a friend. He pulled the engine, laughed at me for selling him an awesome potential racing motor without realizing it, and then he stuffed it with fabulous new high performance parts before sticking it into his Firebird. He junked the body. It was a waste, really, to trash such a nice car. But what can you do? Time marches on.

1977 Pontiac Trans Am
1977 POS Trans Am

While I was in college, my father maintained an iron grip on my life, controlling as much as he possibly could for reasons that made sense only to him. I wasn't even allowed to pick my own car without his OK. Meanwhile, my brother, who could do no wrong in his eyes, had taken a car Dad had given him and traded it in for a piece of shit 1977 Trans Am. The car was jacked up in the back, had a giant snorkel-style hood scoop in place of the original shaker, and a cracked 350 engine in it. My brother wasn't very mechanical, so after rigging the cracked engine enough to drive it a bit, he convinced me to buy it from him. Yes, I was a fool to take the deal, but I had been trying to figure out a way to get something like this and without my brother helping me get around my father, there simply was no way.

I cleaned it up, straightened it out, pulled the cracked 350, and installed a highly modified 400 in it. But the more I worked on the car, the more I realized that it wasn't going to work for what I wanted. There was just too much wrong. So I stumbled on another car and made a swap.

1978 Pontiac Trans Am
1978 Trans Am

I bought a 1978 black Trans Am with a solid body and working, non-cracked 350 in it and took it home, lying to my control-freak of a father that I was getting paid by a friend to work on his car for him. I brought the white piece-of-shit Trans Am over, too, and swapped the good 400 out of the white car into the black one, and the 350 from the black car to the white one. I got both cars running fine, and then began doing other work on the black car.

Around this time, my brother asked if he could buy back the white Trans Am. I was glad to sell it to him. He took the car, promising to pay me in installments. But he never did. He pulled the engine, saying he was going to install an Olds 455 he had lying around, but he was lazy and couldn't figure out how to finish the job. Eventually he dumped the now engineless car back on me without paying me a dime. We have not been friends since.

In the meantime, I was hired for a job in Memphis, TN. When I arrived in Memphis, my coworkers, upon hearing that I had a 1978 black Trans Am, advised me that my shiny black musclecar would last about a week before it was stolen and never seen again. I didn't much like this idea, so I sold it back in Alabama, along with a storage unit filled with enough parts to build a 2nd one, all of which would be worth a fortune today.

1981 Datsun/Nissan 200SX

A lawyer owned this car. It was his first purchase upon graduating from law school. He rear-ended a pickup truck and mangled the front end a little bit. The insurance company totaled it. He had a special sentimental feeling about the car, so he wanted someone to fix it. He went looking for a poor college student (me) who would be willing to take it for free upon the condition that they fix it and drive it. I was glad to do so.

For years I drove this thing to class, and after graduation, to my jobs, with a silver body and a white front clip I had purchased at a junk yard. After moving to Memphis, I drove it 400 miles with a blown out head gasket before I was able to get it to a mechanic, who expressed utter amazement that the car survived and didn't crack or warp the head.

After the blown head gasket adventure, I drove the car back and forth between Memphis and Rocketown (200 miles each way) for almost 2 years before a black lady in a Ford Escort cut me off in front of the university where I had graduated years before. I couldn't stop and I t-boned her. She reacted by going berzerk, like something you'd see on Maury Povich or Oprah, throwing her hands in the air and moaning and crying. After 30 minutes of screaming and wailing, she admitted that she had just canceled her insurance because it was too expensive (high risk policy) and didn't have any insurance. While the police officer was filling out an accident report, she admitted something about there being an outstanding warrant on her for an unpaid ticket. The officer mumbled something about arresting her, but then forgot. Several months later my insurance told me that despite the extremely minor level of damage, they were totaling the car and taking it away to be crushed. Those cold blooded bastards! It had 174,000 miles on it with plenty of life left. I drove the shit out of that car and it never gave me a problem.

1988 Nissan minitruck
Nissan truck

I was so impressed with my Nissan 200SX that when the insurance bastards took it away from me, I went looking for another Nissan. I knew I needed a pickup, for various reasons which included both the shitty roads in Memphis as well as my coming marriage to my then-girlfriend who would then be moving up to Memphis and have lots of crap to haul. My middle sister drove a pickup and advised me to make sure I got one with an extended cab, so I went looking for a used Nissan with the same engine and transmission my car had had, and an extended cab. It wasn't easy to find, but I finally did. I had actually been looking for a white one, having done enough body repair work to know that white doesn't show scratches and dings nearly as much as darker, shinier colors. But my choices were limited and black was all I found available. So black it was.

I bought this truck with 120,000 miles on it. It had few options and wasn't exactly what you'd call luxurious. But I was driving about 100 miles a week back and forth to work, plus an additional 400 miles per week going back and forth between my apartment and my future-wife's apartment in Rocketown, where she was attending college. I needed gas mileage, reliability, and a vehicle capable of surviving the horrifically shitty roads in Memphis, Tennessee. This was perfect.

Today, the truck is sitting in my driveway with 260,000 miles on the odometer. It has hot start issues, a broken waterpump, a radiator damaged by the failure of the waterpump, has been sideswiped by a drunk in Walnut, Mississippi, t-boned by a manager at Autosuck in the AutoSuck corporate headquarters parking garage, rear-ended by a Dodge Neon on the 240 loop in Memphis, rammed a stump hidden in tall grass at Shelby Farms park, sideswiped by a full-sized Chevy van in Redneckville, Tennessee, repeatedly vandalized by a drug-dealing police informant boy I call 'Yo G', and hauled a shitload of mulch for My Wife.

When fixed and running properly, this vehicle serves as our spare car. We figure it has earned the rest from daily driving after all that it has been through.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

In high school I had very coldly and logically determined what the perfect musclecar for me would be. I had narrowed it down to a Buick GS455, Pontiac GTO with 455, Olds 442 with 455, or a Chevy Chevelle SS454. But all these cars cost a freakin' fortune, so I had ruled them all out, setting my sights instead on a 1977 or '78 Pontiac Trans Am by virtue of them coming already equipped with everything that I might have to add via aftermarket to a lesser car. At the time, the Trans Ams were far cheaper and easier to find.

My Trans Ams came and went and by now I had a house with my own garage where I could lock away my prized musclecar if I needed to. Living in Memphis, of course, I very much needed to. I had long before sold my Trans Am, so the garage held my old Monte Carlo. But then a friend told me about a guy in my old hometown with a 1970 Chevelle SS454 that he might be selling. I went to take a look.

The guy with the car came outside to find me and my friend looking the car over in his driveway. "What the hell are you doing?" he asked. I had assumed my friend knew him. The car didn't have a "For Sale" sign on it, so how else would my friend have known about the car or that it was for sale? As it turned out, my friend did not know the man, and no one seems to be able to recall how he knew the man was planning to sell it. But he was. "I haven't told anybody that I was going to sell it. That's the damnedest thing. See, I have this friend, he's richer than shit. He's got a dragstrip in his backyard that doubles as his landing strip for his airplanes. He has all kinds of classic musclecars. He wants me to sell this to him so he can cut it up and tub it out and make it purely into a dragster. I'd really rather not see that happen."

We talked, discussed what I wanted the car for, settled on a price, and I bought it. Today it sits in my garage, leaking transmission fluid on my floor since the day I got it. But it'll roast the rear tires any time I want and at almost any speed I'm willing to throw it down and gun it. That's all I want, at this point. I don't do much with it and I should probably sell it. But for now, sitting safely tucked away in my garage, is a car I never thought I'd have.

I won't say exactly what I'm driving currently, except that I like it and it gets me where I want to go. It has 4-wheel-drive and a brush guard, and it's made of steel, not plastic. It has no airbags or crumple zones, like a real man's truck. And it's a lot more comfortable to ride in than my old Nissan. I've already been sideswiped by a woman in an SUV in Cherokee, Alabama, only to discover thanks to her that no one makes the passenger-side mirror for this truck anymore and the generic replacement sucks ass. I've never owned a truck like this before, but I think I have gotten rather used to it.

So, what about you? What cars have you owned in your lifetime?

You have read this article cars with the title Cars That I Have Owned. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...