1968 Ford F-100 with a 300 cubic inch straight six, rated at 300 lbs.ft of torque and 298 horsepower. It had a three speed manual transmission with a column shift. Most of you have never driven a column shift. It had an automatic overdrive, which involved being in 3rd and coming off the throttle, then smacking the throttle to the floor whereupon a higher gear would magically clunk into place. A vinyl interior that you could hose out. Bench seat. No stereo or A/C. White.
1990 Pontiac Sunbird. The first in a long line of small cars that I would buy. My first new car, and my only car ever co-signed. My parents co-signed the loan on the agreement that they would never be saddled with the payments. Lost my job, gave the car to them, and it was eventually stolen. I remember the car being stupidly quick for what it was, a five speed coupe with a 96 horsepower four cylinder. I took it to Alpine AZ once on highway 666.
1986 Ford Mustang four cylinder. Picked it up for, what, $2k or so. Fixed it up as much as I could. No A/C, four speed, ugly peeling blue paint. I removed the rear seat, installed Ranger springs and offroad shocks, and drove it at top speed off road. This was the only car that would catch on fire after driving over a puddle, something it did twice.
1989 Mercury Tracer 5 door. Auto, A/C, bells and whistles. Made by Mazda, the used car lot that traded me my Mustang had this on their lot for months...could not sell it. Dark blue with a red stripe, in perfect shape with low miles, this car was fantastic. I loved it. I drove the car from Las Cruces to California, then back to Cruces, then (after much repair and refresh) to Massachusetts where it lived for two full Mass winters before it started dying. Great mileage, great handling...I always had sticky tires on it and had replaced the struts, shocks, and springs with Konis. Went through a lot of brakes on this car, and got to where I could replace the pads in ten minutes per wheel. I miss this car, still.
1996 Dodge Neon coupe. Fire engine red, three speed auto. The motors on Neons are pigs, but they have a lot of torque for the weight. Mine was one of the smiley-faced "Hi there" Neons. Got into a fracas with the Mass state police in that car. Taught myself how to drive in Boston in that car. It made it in Austin for a while, was my wife's for a bit, then we gave it to a friend. He totaled it.
1999 Honda Civic HX: Great little car that got 50mpg. Boring as hell.
2001 Ford Focus SVT: This one, which I purchased without my wife's consent. Bad idea. Also got screwed badly by the dealer. But this car was awfully neat. Bought it while in San Antonio for a security conference, and drove it the first two weeks in a downpour. This was my first foray into modern compact performance. Car could handle, had a great transmission, and brakes powerful enough to yank your teeth from your head if you weren't careful. This car had everything except seat warmers. I added a cold air intake and a programmable chip. Fantastic car that I traded in at just the right time; the clutch had started to leak and many, many Ford issues had been popping up. Got a great deal on the trade-in.
2005 Acura RSX Type S. My current car. Everything I ever wanted from a car from the time I was a child and saw my first Porsche 944. Compact, tight, sticks to the road. Motor, with cold air intake, screams a tone not unlike an Italian car up to a redline I don't like to think about. There are times in this car when I feel...perfect. The road, the tires, the steering, the ambient temp, the traffic, the lighting, the birds in the goddamn sky the music on the radio the scrubbing screaming wailing WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA noise all hits at once and all I can do is laugh, pouring into a turn, tearing out of it, laughing, laughing. I've had terrifying moments of clarity in that car. And straight up terrifying moments. Dangerous and beautiful and white knuckled crazy moments on abandoned roads. And all those trips across Texas, flat out, raging through gasoline like dinosaurs weren't extinct.
Now, let's remember that stuff is stuff. That our anthropomorphizing makes our eyes water when we think of our car, abandoned, cold, alone. That the things we own end up owning us. That it is just an object, and nothing more.
And when I am driving to work in something with 70 less horsepower (but tons more torque) and two more doors (but room for four actual adults!) and 42 miles per gallon, I'll look deep into the off-camber deathly twisties on Sprinkle Cut-Off, still hearing the echo of that wailing screaming car, and I'll not cry, goddamn it.
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