The Search for the Best Car EVER! Part I.

I have been driving for nearly thirty years. My father owned an automotive company when I was younger, so growing up, we never drove the same car for more than a few days. We had cars that were Dad’s toys, and then cars that we drove to get groceries and things like that. My friends’ families had cars that they owned for years (I remember going to the store with my neighbors across the street and being flabbergasted that they could leave things [like a box of Kleenex] in their car.) In my family, if you left something in the car, it wasn’t only lost forever, but chances were slim you’d ever see the car again.

Coming from a “car” family, my 16th birthday gift (that arrived at Christmas) was a green Buick SkyHawk. I promptly totaled it (about a month later)… but for the most part, I’ve never paid more than $3000 for a car. I just trade up, pay the difference, and enjoy the car.

In order, here’s a list of all the cars I’ve owned:

  1. Green Buick SkyHawk a good solid little car. I totaled it on a day when I was skipping school.
  2. Brozne/Burnt Orange Chevy Camero I liked zipping around in this car, but it was not a practical car for Buffalo winters… or autumn. I remember driving over a pile of leaves and starting them on fire. I also remember chipping ice off of it and leaving tiny little dings all over the car. My father wasn’t happy about that.
  3. Tan Mazda 323 was the first “nice” car I had. I LOOOOOOOVED this car. It was also the first “standard” transmission car that I had. I didn’t know how to drive standard when I got it, but I learned really quickly. I still miss this car.
  4. Dark Grey Ford Mustang devastated from the sale of the Mazda 323 (with more than 150k miles on it), I bought a Ford Mustang. I got one ticket after another with this car.
  5. White Ford Taurus after a spate of speeding tickets, I traded for something more … sensible. And boring. And slow. And boring. And slow.
  6. White Honda Prelude brought me back to speed. This car had 4-wheel steering, which made it a curious car to drive. I remember driving it on the Mass Pike just outside of Boston during a rainstorm and feeling like I was in a giant roller skate that could careen off the road at any time.
  7. White Mazda 626 marked my effort to get back to a serious car. I missed the 323 terribly, so thought I would take a step up. The interior was blue (which I didn’t love), but the car was decent… just not quite as good as the original 323.
  8. Light Green VW Jetta came onto the scene when the Mazda hit 150k miles (just like the last one). Now in architecture school, I was so happy to have this cool car that had only one small problem: it didn’t run for more than 1/4 a mile at a time. It was—hands down—the most problematic and unreliable car I have ever owned.
  9. Black Ford Bronco was me in architecture school at full force. I actually really liked this little truck. It was a workhorse (but was a little fish-tail-ish during the winter. I woke up to find it totaled one morning, hit by a drunk hit-and-run driver. Fortunately for me, she only ran about 100 feet before she abandoned her own vehicle and passed out on the sidewalk. She woke up while I was making a report to the police and—not surprisingly—was still drunk.
  10. White Saturn Wagon was the at-the-ready replacement. I took the insurance money from the Bronco and traded down. The Saturn was reliable and drove quite well. It had tons of cargo space, but had a missing middle arm rest. So I fashioned one out of plywood and polka dot fabric. This Saturn also marked the debut of my orange silk Gerbera daisy that has been with me in every single car since.
  11. Green (then Black) VW Jetta (4-door) I really liked the styling of the VW during this period, and though I really wanted a black one, I bought a green one. It was a solid car. My father was kind enough to paint it black for me and then (with his blessing) I traded it in for a new Scion.
  12. Black Scion XB was really my partner’s car, but was a nice, basic car to drive. It handled surprisingly well in the snow.
  13. Black Saturn Sedan was also my partner’s car that I inherited when he bought the Scion. It was a solid car and reliable (just like the last Saturn.) I came out of work one day and someone driving an exact duplicate of the car had gotten hit by a Semi. The car was literally in a million pieces. Considering the amount of driving I was doing at the time, it was time to step up to something larger and more rugged.
  14. Green Kia Sportage was larger but not more rugged. The car had a horrible fuel line leak, that no matter the number of times it was fixed just leaked and leaked and leaked. It also had 4 wheel drive that for some reason, only worked on one wheel. The other three would just spin. It made winter driving splendid.
  15. Black Subaru Legacy was oddly my first “real” car. I bought it used, and was in the market for a hatchback or wagon crossover (like an Outback), but I knew the minute I bought it that I loved it.  My mom is still driving it to this day.
  16. Light Grey Toyota Camry was purchased by my partner after the Scion.  I’m still not sure why we got rid of the Scion, but the Camry was so unbelievably basic that it left me bored. Literally, a reliable but ultra boring car.
  17. Black Smart Fortwo was me making up for selling to Scion. This little (tiny) car has a TON of room outside. It was (and is) my first electric vehicle. It turns heads everywhere, and when folks find out that it’s electric, they inevitably ask “how many miles to the gallon does it get?” I love being able to answer “none.” It always confuses people.
  18. Blue Subaru Legacy I should have learned my lesson from the Mazda 626: you just can’t repeat your love for a car. Subaru changed the base, styling, and design of the Legacy between 2007 and 2014 so much that this car was so completely different than my first that I could just never quite get used to it. It was also—hands down—the largest car that I’ve ever owned. It was a reliable workhorse (I put 40k miles on it in less than a year and a half) but was not a pleasant ride.

Next up: The Stats.

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