Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My Old Car

While driving home from donating platelets on Monday, I saw this car ahead of me at the intersection:

My old car. Probably not my actual old car, but exactly like the one I had.
1991 Honda CRX HF.
I have been fortunate enough to have a car my whole driving life. I inherited my sister's car when I was in high school. It was my first car, my first love. A Honda Civic 1500dx. 1980? 1981? This is the closest I could come to finding a photo of it in the same color:

(thanks to this flickr page.)

5 speeds, no AC, crank windows, 2 doors, I hatchback, kick-ass cassette stereo (well, sorta.) and man I loved it.

I kissed it good-bye in college and since I was essentially living in LA at that point, I inherited my next car, a 60's-something VW Bug, from my stepbrother. I got a $100 paint job (no body work) at Earl Scheib and it was now shiny and red! (Thanks for the help with that, Randy.) Only 4 speeds this time (I sometimes surprised myself on the freeway, yanking her in to 3rd, thinking I was in my Honda with the 5 speeds -- wakes you up quick!), no AC, crank windows, 2 doors, trunk in the front, probably the same kick-ass cassette stereo and I soon loved that bug. Best part about a bug? (Aside from that ever-specific engine sound?) If it wouldn't start, you could jump-start it by sitting in the driver's seat with the door open, pushing the ground really hard with your left foot a few times, then popping the clutch, you were on your way. Oh and if you ever locked your keys in your car (gee, not that I ever did...) you could rattle the little triangle windows hard enough to open them.

{I'm off looking for a photo....}

There she is in all her LMU glory.

I drove that lovely bug until 1991 when my grandmother, who was very generous, loaned me the money to buy the CRX. I bought it, brand spanking new, for about $10,000 out the door. 5 speeds, no AC, crank windows, 2 doors, a hatchback, kick-ass cassette stereo then later three kick-ass CD players (two of which got stolen). The Honda CRX was/is the only car I have ever dreamed of owning, I WANTED that car all through high school. And the 1991 was the last model year of that car. I got the last one. It got stolen once around 1997, but found two days later, luckily with only the seats and stereo missing. I owned it for eight years and only sold it because I really wanted four doors and a trunk. And air conditioning.

So I thanked that wonderful car, said good-bye and bought a 1999 VW Passat in green. 5 speeds (yes, still manual, baby, I like to drive!), Air conditioning! Power Windows (and locks)! 4 doors, FOUR! A trunk! And a kick-ass six CD changer/stereo. Oh I felt grown up. I even had a real car payment this time. But, it only lasted about a year. I got laid off from work (well, I engineered the lay off, so I sort of quit in a way that worked better for me) and realized that I would rather have the freedom of the freelance lifestyle than a new car, so I sold the Passat to relieve myself of the payments.

I was really really really bummed for a day. I don't know if you are aware, but Los Angeles is a car-centric town and you are usually indentified with your car. I can tell you what all my friends drive. I can tell you what most of my colleagues drove when I worked at Sony. Kind of ridiculous, actually. But still being wrapped up in that place in life, I felt somehow "less-than" for a while without that shiny new car.

Then I Rented a Wreck while I found a "new" car to buy and suddenly felt free. It was a 92 Nissan something or other, not fancy in any way shape or form. Driving that car for a few weeks really made me realize that I am not my car, or by extension, my bank account. I'm me and I didn't want to be living that "what do you drive" lifestyle any more. A good friend sold me his 93 Acura Integra and I bought it happily.

5 speeds (manual!), air conditioning (thank you), power windows (manual locks), 2 doors, a hatchback and a kick-ass original cassette player that I replaced with a CD player, which has been stolen, so back to the original cassette player. The car has 173,650 miles on it and works very well. I know it will last a lot longer, though the paint is looking not as good as you's like in some spots. Where is that Earl Scheib $100 paint job now?

Do I have a dream car these days? Not really. A Mini would be fun and a Prius is good for the green life, but I don't want a car payment. I am soooo happy to drive my Acura into the ground until we have enough $$ made and saved to buy a new car. Because it's not about the car anymore, it's about the driver.

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I also had a 1980 cvcc -- wasn't even called a civic yet -- bright yellow. I loved that car! I drove it hard. Great car.
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