Wednesday, March 5, 2008

All my vehicles - a recollection

I'm sure no one really cares about this post, but I thought I'd take a quick inventory of all the cars I've "owned" (that have been mine, even though a couple were in my dad's name) in my lifetime.

So, you've been warned. Here we go, in roughly chronological order:
  • 1978 Alfa Romeo Sports Sedan - this was my first car, technically owned by my dad, that I received in 1987 (I think); it has the driveline of an Alfa Spider, but is a four-door sedan body (weighs about 300 pounds more than the Spider) - very fun to drive. Looks similar to the picture, although that's a more recent version, and mine was beige/cream in color; in fact, if you've seen "Ferris Beuler's Day Off" then you've seen one very similar to mine - Ferris's friend's brown "junky" car that he drives to pick up Ferris at home (before they drive off with the Ferrari). This was a DOHC 2.0l four-cylinder, manual transmission, rear-drive car. I did spin it out one time on a wet road, no real damage to anything, on the way home from a "Scholar's Bowl" competition. It had "inboard disc" brakes on the rear - that is, you had to pull the axles to do a brake job on it (or something like that) - the discs were not at the wheels, but were at the place where the rear axles attached to the differential. It unfortunately didn't live well with my driving - the car had the old Bosch mechanical fuel injection, which threw a lot of extra fuel into the cylinders to start the car, but if it didn't get warm enough for long enough it wouldn't burn off all the extra fuel and would end up fouling the plugs & injectors. My trips were short, and this happened too frequently... about the third time we had it towed away because it wouldn't start, my dad decided that it was time for something else.
  • 1983 Renault Feugo - this was what we traded the Alfa on... a French car. Again, a 5-speed manual transmission, this was the non-turbo version. A fun car to drive, with the typical French roll in corners - leans a lot, but hangs on quite well. In fact, once my friend and I were on a really twisty road; he was driving a 280ZX and I this Fuego - although his car easily would out-drag mine, I went in first, and despite my slipping clutch came out well ahead of him due to the handling prowess of this vehicle. It had numerous issues throughout my ownership - we ended up replacing the engine, then the radiator leaked out all its coolant, the power steering hose leaked (I fixed that myself), the shift lever bushing broke, and it would disconnect the shift lever from the transmission, leaving me stuck in one gear - once I had to drive home from downtown in first gear, that was quite a trip. I searched for the bushing, but the only junkyard in Alabama with one of these wouldn't sell me just the bushing, but the whole trans linkage for $150 - I ended up taking out the bushing, punching a hole in the "closed" side with a #3 phillips head screwdriver, and inserting the bushing backwards - worked great! Eventually the throttle linkage broke off down inside the cylinder head (not quite sure why they designed it to go down through there), so I set the idle at 3000 RPM with a pair of needle-nose pliers and drove it down to the place where we had the engine replaced (a French car garage) and we sold it to that guy for parts for $500 or something. I once broke the rear hatch, and managed to find one in a fairly local junkyard and the guy said $100. When we got there, he said, "Well, I told you $100, so that's what I'll sell it to you for; I didn't know what I was dealing with when I gave you that price - should have been much more!" It would have been over $1000 to import a new hatch from France. Once upon a time we had something like 8 or 9 people in this little 2+2... I was driving, my then-girlfriend (now-wife) and her sister were in the front passenger seat, four or five people crammed across the back seat and another sitting across them, sideways... I don't think we went far, but I don't recall for sure. It was also one in which I had the brakes fail as I was rounding a curve about 80 mph and there were people stopped at a red light... I managed to get off into the turn lane and use the emergency brake and heavy engine braking to slow the car, no collision occurred. I also managed to accidentally drive it off-road along the side of a steep hill in the dark - there was a one-lane road, but I was unfamiliar, and yielded to the guy coming at me, and suddenly the car was sliding down this hill. Made it back up ok, though. I also managed to get this thing up on two wheels once... and didn't know it until the next day when the guy I'd just dropped off said, "Man, I thought you were going to lose it when you got up on two wheels yesterday!" I just thought the car was pushing (understeering) really badly, but I did then remember a mechanical "clunk" when I backed off the gas...
  • 1985 Oldsmobile Toronado - this was the car my dad gave me when I got married - it had been his after I totaled my mom's 1987 Mazda 626 GT (in a one-car accident) and he gave her his 1987 Taurus to drive. He'd bought the 1991 Park Avenue before giving this one to me. It was an automatic (as are all Toronados, to my knowledge) with the Olds 307 V8. I had it from 1991 until 1993, at which point I sold it to a junkyard for very little as I was moving to Virginia and didn't want to take it with me. It was well-wrecked by then - driver's door was smashed (not my fault) and the interior door panel no longer was attached, and the rear bumper was turned under (again, not my fault). This was the car in which I managed to get a $400+ ticket (ok, two tickets) - speeding (84 in a 55) and expired, out-of-state license plate (the car wouldn't pass South Carolina inspection, so I'd never bothered attempting to register it since I was only going to be there 6 months). In my defense, it was the first day back at work after Justin was born, and Ninfa had been through quite an ordeal (nearly died) and I wanted to get home to her.
  • 1984 Buick LeSabre - this was one that my grandmother's husband (step-grandfather - he was a Cadillac salesman, and did his own selling on the side, even after he'd retired) had found, and they "financed" for us. Four-door, automatic, Olds 307 V8, actually a pretty decent vehicle, was fairly reliable, and even did a decent job of going places in Virginia snow. One time, while driving back from Norfolk to Yorktown, my friend was sleeping in the passenger seat when bang! - suddenly there were sparks flying along the passenger-side window. Pulled off the interstate, sure enough, the right-front was flat. Went to pull it up a bit onto the paved area, and the guy with me said to quit. Apparently it wasn't just the tire flat and the rim on the road causing the sparks... the lower ball joint had broken, dropping the lower control arm onto the pavement at 65 mph. Hence the sparks. We walked back down the exit ramp we'd just passed and had his wife come pick us up... unfortunately, there was an accident at the exit ramp, and the cops noticed my car, and had it impounded (for a disfunctional vehicle on the interstate) before I could get a towtruck out there to pick it up. That was expensive and horrible timing - it was our only vehicle at the time, and we had to pay not only to get it fixed, but to get it out of impound as well, since I was about to head out to sea and leave my wife with nothing to drive.
  • 1991 Park Avenue Ultra - the non-supercharged version. This was another one my dad gave me (I've received a lot of vehicles from him!). Excellent vehicle, don't recall any problems with it - strange for a modern GM product! :)
  • 1995 Ford Windstar - baby-blue color. We got this when we traded our two Buicks, along with a nice cash gift from my dad (he'd just made a nice profit from some stock or something). We wanted the 1996, as it had a more powerful engine and less miles, but it was a couple grand more than we had. This one, of course, was just out of warranty. Had it for about a year and a half (maybe just a year) when the transmission went out. Traded it for a 1998 Chevy Venture, but we'll get to that one in a minute.
  • 1987 Ford Taurus - This was the one mentioned above, that my dad gave to my mom when I totaled her car. It's also one of very few that I remember of her cars that wasn't wrecked when it was exchanged... of course, my brother tried to keep that streak alive when he spun it, jumped a curb, and dropped it nose-first off a 15-20 foot embankment, but it survived (was never quite the same afterwards, however). This and our old 1985 Peugeot 505 STI TurboDiesel, although it had terrible electrical problems which could have been considered to have "wrecked" the car, leaving my mom stranded on several occasions before it was traded. (She got a 1990 Mercedes 300 CE - which she still has and so far hasn't been wrecked :) - and they had no use for the Taurus anymore.) The Taurus also had transmission problems - my dad had it rebuilt when it destroyed its second gear. Eventually it poured out all its coolant while I was sitting in line at Krystal, and I attempted to remove the water pump to replace the gasket, when one of the bolts holding it on broke off, and naturally it was in the space where there was only about two inches of room - not enough to get a drill in there to use a screw extractor. That's when I decided to get rid of it.
  • 1998 Chevy Venture LS Extended minivan - bought this one new as one of a couple of remaining 1998 vehicles in October of 1998; nothing but problems with this vehicle. Air bags (fixed 8 times under warranty, eventually just ignored it - had a friend who bought a 1998 Venture and they, too, had recurring airbag problems), charging system (three batteries in the first two years of ownership - replaced under warranty - and a couple more later, as well as other charging system issues... and changing the battery in this thing was a horrible experience!), driver side window (fixed 3 times under warranty, then the warranty was up and they wanted $850 to fix it... terrible design of the window components!), engine replaced at 120,000 miles (you shouldn't have to replace an engine at 120,000 miles in a modern vehicle! if you need to do that, though, check out AutoZone - they have some pretty good deals on rebuilt engines with nice warranties!), heat wasn't working, brake problems (spent over $1000 on brakes at various intervals), body hardware issues, seatbelts in the back seats started working sporadically, passenger side window (motor replaced under warranty, went out again after warranty was expired), ABS failure, etc. etc. etc. Nice power, decent ride, lots of space when the (heavy) seats were removed (fit a big, bulky couch and love seat in there), terrible reliability.
  • 1977 Chevy Custom Deluxe 10 Pickup Truck - this was a long-bed, 4.1l straight six, three-speed automatic pickup truck that was my grandfather's - he always said, "Everyone needs to have a truck around." It was originally seamist green - but it was accidentally repainted a dark green (my step-grandfather asked them to match the color and then go "a shade darker" to counter the sun fading, and they really blew it). It was kind of beat up on the body, but not too much. And only 67,000 miles when I eventually sold it. This was the truck that I remember collecting loads of aluminum cans & running them down to the recycler when I was young, the truck everyone used when they needed a truck. At one point, I asked my grandmom if I could borrow it to move some stuff, and when I got there to pick it up, she asked if I wanted to take it - her husband (my step-grandfather) had a truck, and this one just sat and was an insurance and tax burden to her. Of course I accepted! I wanted to keep this forever, but I broke it - there was a cooling issue, and I'd left it at my dentist's office. I tried to get it home later so I could fix it, and managed to blow the head gasket & break a cylinder before I got home (don't really know why - it was cooler when I was taking it home, and the distance was the same, but it broke anyway). I'd tried to fix it, but I guess I'm not that good a mechanic, and never got it to start afterwards. For several years it sat in my driveway until I got another truck (see below) and then sold this one to a guy I work with who then just put a 305 in it instead of repairing the old straight six. I think he still owns it. At this point, I'd gone from a pair of Buicks to a pair of Fords to a pair of Chevy's within a 2 year period. Traded this one in 2007 as a two-for-one on a Suzuki Forenza (see below).
  • 1984 Buick Riviera - very similar to the 1985 Toronado, even down to the Olds 307 V8 engine. Note: Rivieras and Toronados are nice cars; big, not necessarily exciting, but they do handle fairly well for such a large vehicle. Got this one from my aunt & uncle in order to minimize mileage on the Chevy Truck. Eventually gave it to a friend at church who was in need of a vehicle.
  • 1993 Ford Escort - gold, 4-door hatchback, manual transmission. Borrowed this from a great friend for too long (about a year?) before buying it from him (they weren't using it) when the truck broke. Got a good bit of use out of it before the clutch went out (and it had an exhaust leak) and I sold it.
  • 1967 Ford Mustang GT - cool, eh? My uncle bought this car brand new off the showroom floor in November of 1966. In 2001, on my 30th birthday, he gave it to me. In 1987 he had it shipped to California where a family member had it restored (but painted it the wrong color - it was originally dark forest green, he had it painted Firethorn Red - a nice color, but not original), but then let it sit in front of his house and fall apart. All original (except for the passenger side window glass, which was broken by a rock from a weed eater), with the exception of having the interior redone as part of the restoration. All the chrome is original (was rechromed). This is a 289, four-barrel, four-speed. Fun! Not the roller-rocker motor (the 271 hp version; it's just the 225 hp one), and it didn't have the factory dual exhaust (the only two GT options it didn't have) - some guy had special ordered it, then decided he didn't want it, and my uncle was in the dealer that day and bought it. It needs some brake work and a carburetor, and a little body work and probably a paint job, but overall it's in pretty good shape.
  • 2004 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V - this was my "graduation present" to myself; went to the local Nissan dealer, and no one even came out to help us, so I went across the river to Lynn Layton Nissan in Decatur, where they were very nice and made the deal I wanted without my even having to argue with them (then again, I came in with knowledge of the existing Nissan rebate as well as a college graduate rebate that the salesman didn't even know about - I guess they figured I'd done my homework and made the deal easy!). Highly recommended dealer. This was a fun car... I probably shouldn't have traded it, but I did, 13 months later.
  • 2005 Toyota Tundra SR-5 Extra-cab Stepside - ok, I admit it. This was a mistake. I wanted to have a running pickup, and I even got a green one to mimic my granddad's pickup. Should have simply kept the Nissan... but I didn't. Kept this one for two years.
  • 1995 Mercury Villager Nautica - another gift from my dad. When he took over payments on my brother's Honda Odyssey (he had gotten in over his head on that one, and then a divorce led them to want to get rid of it, but were way upside down on it), they didn't need two minivans. We used this as a replacement (for the Venture) family vehicle until just recently. Traded it on a used Kia Sedona (see below).
  • 2005 Suzuki SV-650 - this is a motorcycle; bought to save gas (yeah, right!), which it did - about 48 mpg average. Wrecked it (slightly) on Halloween of 2007, and I've not yet gotten around to replacing the handlebars & shift lever.
  • 2007 Suzuki Forenza - the link is to WikiPedia's "Daewoo Lacetti" article, as the "Suzuki" is really a GM-Daewoo made vehicle. Kind of interesting: GM-Daewoo, made in korea, the engine is built by Holden of Australia and based on an old European Opel engine, and it's sold in the States as a Japanese-branded Suzuki. Not much power, but actually a pretty decent little ride, with the manual transmission. I took my youngest son with me to the dealer, and he'd wanted me to get a gold car, and this one was gold. We'd had a tax debt from 2006 and were making monthly payments to the IRS, and I wanted to get something that would reduce my outflow from the Tundra. This was the only thing that would fit the prearranged financing and take the hit from the Tundra deficit (remaining loan was about $5k over its book value) and lower our payment. Bought at Suzuki of Huntsville, a Driving 2000 dealer - and I highly, highly recommend the Driving 2000 buying experience. Anyway, had this for a month and a half when I made the mistake of leaving it unlocked in my front yard on July 4th evening. You see, someone for the last few years has been putting fireworks in our mailbox (sometimes burning up our mail), and I guess this time it wasn't good enough - they threw a large roman candle into the passenger seat, destroying the interior. It was eventually totaled by the insurance company; we got about $3.5k less than the loan amount, but that's still coming out ahead since I went in with about a $5k deficit off the Tundra.
  • 1994 Lexus LS400 - yet another one of my dad's old cars, received as a gift. He was "bored" with it and gave it to his mom when he bought his 2003 BMW 525is (he'd bought the LS used in 1997). She no longer drove it, so he took it back to give to me after the Forenza fireworks incident. He's right... this is a boring car. Nice, but boring. It's currently in need of repairs (power steering pump, PS reservoir o-ring, alternator). I'm borrowing a car from a friend until I get this one fixed (low cash at the moment).
  • 2006 Kia Sedona LX - bought this one 6 days ago; pretty remarkable story how it all happened. This is the larger, redesigned one. Plenty of room for the family - I expect we'll keep it a long time. The wife is happy! Yeah!
And that, I think, is the complete list of vehicles I've owned. Sorry to bore you with it all. One of these days I'll augment it with a list of cars I've driven... perhaps not in as much detail (then again, it is I who'll be writing it, so it may be even longer...). Have a great day - I'm late for work, so I've to go! Don't have time to proof it at the moment, so I apologize in advance for any grammatical, typographical, or non-sensical errors!


cosmiccowgirl said...

Wow, that's quite some list. I don't even think I have driven that many cars!

Tony M said...

The list of cars I've driven is much longer...