Mark and I have been discussing buying a new car after Christmas, mostly to facilitate the more important goal of getting a second dog (two dogs Leo's size would never fit in our current car). This has me thinking about my car history, so I thought I'd share.
Year/make/model: 1988 (I think) Dodge Carvan
Date bought/price: 1988, I think--I have no idea how much
Date sold/price: Again, no idea
Story: This is the car I learned to drive on, my mom's minivan. My mother has done a lot of incredible things in her life, but I think teaching me to drive has to be among her most brave. I was so, so horrible. I crashed this minivan three times, in my recollection, and they were all amazingly stupid (the first time I ran into our woodshed when all I was supposed to be doing was going out to start the car). It is a wonder I learned to drive at all. In my defense, though, the fucking thing was a beast to drive. First gear was basically non-functional.
Year/make/model: 1984 Ford Tempo
Color: beer bottle brown
Date bought/price: Summer 1996, $1,100
Date sold/price: Fall 1998, $300
Peripherals: Betty Boop air freshener, Oregon Country Fair rose garland around the rear view mirror,"Children Should be Seen, Heard, and Believed" bumper sticker, Reed sticker
Story: My first car, bought the summer between my junior and senior years in high school, from a harried mom of four who had just inherited a minivan. It was what I could afford at the time, and was reasonably reliable for the first 18 months or so. I took it with me to my first year at Reed. I was terrified of driving in Portland, though, so I let everyone else drive it and spent most of my time in the passenger seat. I was also one of only a few people with wheels in my dorm, so it got a lot of use. And it got pretty banged up, as well. Spring Break Simon and I took it to Berkeley, which was an unmitigated disaster. It lost 95% of its ability to accelerate about halfway through the trip. We kept going anyway. Frightening. Wasn't ever trustworthy after that. I didn't bring it back my second year of college, and sold it to a neighbor of my parents' soon after.
Year/make/model: 1987(ish) Honda Civic
Date bought/price: Fall 1999, $3,000 range, I think
Date sold/price: he's still driving it
Peripherals: many never wiped-up spilled things, Warhammer 40K models, probably nudie magazines
Story: This was not actually my car, but Simon's car. However, Simon bought this car right about the same time we started living together, and I spent a fair amount of time driving it, so I consider it part of my history. If memory serves, he bought it from a Reed political science professor the fall of my junior year. It was quite reliable and I never remember having any problems with it. The crazy thing, however, is that Simon is still fucking driving it, and has put an amazing number of miles on it. The car has to have 250,000+ miles on it. Guess he got his money's worth.
Year/make/model: 1991 Dodge Dynasty
Date bought/price: Received as a gift in Summer 2001
Date sold/price: Summer 2003, $600
Peripherals: fuzzy rainbow striped steering wheel cover, leaking and moldy trunk
Story: This car was a college graduation gift from my stepmother. Her mother had been driving it--I don't know if Nana bought it from her or if she just gave it to her or what. At any rate, it was a wonderful gift at the time, because I was just graduating, had no car, had no job, and was reliant for everything on the Portland bus system. The bus system reliance turned out to be fine with the jobs I ended up getting, but it was still great to have a car. This car, however, was a POS from day 1. It overheated, it was not watertight (leaky trunk, leaky windows...) and I put more money than it was worth into it. Nevertheless, it served its purpose at the time. A guy I dated very briefly between Simon and Mark, William, called this the "preacher car." I never did figure out what that meant. It had really comfortable bench seats, though. It was also the only car I've ever had/driven with any regularity that had an automatic transmission. Ick.
Year/make/model: 1999 Mazda Protege
Date bought/price: Spring 2003, $6,500
Date sold/price: still driving it
Peripherals: Mark doesn't allow peripherals :(
Story: The car Mark and I bought together before leaving Oregon for Texas. We bought it from a soccer-mom type woman who had taken amazing care of it and only put like 40,000 miles on it. It's a great car and we could not possibly have stumbled on to anything that would better meet our needs. We have had almost no problems with it, spent very little money beyond basic maintenance, and have put about 30,000 miles on it since we bought it. It is easy to drive, if slightly underpowered, and I absolutely love it.I plan to drive it until it is dead, dead, dead. However, it is far too small for two 100+ lb dogs, so it is probably going to have a sibling after Christmas. I'm all for this, because much as I loathe to make a car payment (yep, we're going to go new or near-new), I am psyched about Mark and I each having our own car and my not having to drive him to school before I drive to work every morning.
So what will car #6 be? We are going to have to do some more research and test driving, but the frontrunner right now is the Subaru Outback. The Outback seems to have what we need--more room, more weather capabilities--without being excessively large and without being too high off the ground or too SUV-like. They're safe, they seem to last forever, and Consumer Reports loves them. So we'll see. I know I'll feel very overly grown-up driving one, but hey, that beats a Tempo.