Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Sweet Rides

When I read my niece, Aubrey's posting about her first car, see, it made me think about the history of my own "sweet rides."

To start with, I learned to drive a very large, very powerful boat.  It was my dad's Olds Ninety-Eight, and it had a BIG engine, at least a 350 cubic inch power plant.  I can't remember what year it was, but it was really something!  It had an automatic transmission, but instead of changing gears with a shifter on the steering wheel column or on the floorboard, it had push buttons on the dash. You know, PRNDS32..."S"!?  When I checked the car manual it said that the "S" stood for "Super Gear" for extra power in accelerating or passing.  When you pushed that button you'd get an automatic downshift, hit the gas, and whoom!  You were gone!  I can't remember if this is the exact year, but it looked a lot like this:

My next car wasn't a car at all...this is when I started riding on two wheels.  I asked my parents if I could get a motorcycle, and they asked if I had any money.  I didn't.  They told me that when I had some money we could talk about it again.  So I didn't say anything, went to work, saved my money, and when I had a small pile I asked again.  They could have said "no," but they didn't.  Instead my dad and I went looking at bikes.  We'd read about one in the paper, and from time to time we'd go look at one.  To my knowledge he'd never ridden a bike before (but I had...several times).  Anyway, one day he told me about a friend who had a motorcycle that he was ready to sell.  It was a 1972 or 1973 Honda CB350 twin.  It wasn't running at the time, but he was asking $500.  I had the $500, but my folks told me that they wanted to pay half so that they had a say in where it went and what it did.  That was good with me.  So, I started riding that bike, and I loved it!  It looked just like this.  And this was how I got to work, sports practices, and most anyplace else I needed to go, but I rode it to HS only a couple of times.  That was part of the deal.  Still, I managed to put around 10,000 miles on that bike between the time I was 17 and 19.

My next car, which was my folks' car, was a Dodge Dart.  My brother Mark, and I drove that car from Kansas to Idaho where we both attended college.  This was the style of the car, but the one we drove was brown with a cream colored racing stripe.  I also used this car when I sold hand tools across the state of Kansas one summer with my older brother.

I didn't have a car for a little while after that, but the next car I got was actually the first car of my own - not my folks'.  It was a sweet 1976 Mercury Capri. Though it was a Mercury, it was actually made in Germany.  It wasn't a muscle car, but it was fun to drive - standard transmission, and it got pretty good mileage too.  One of my roommates at the time had one the same color and year, but his had a  6-cylinder engine, while mine had only 4.  Still, it was a sweet car!  I drove it for a few years before I traded it in on my next car.

My next car was completely practical and completely reliable.  It was a 1980 Toyota Corolla Wagon - in red.  I used this care to travel to and from the coast a few times when I was in grad school.  It was a great car.  I remember once when I parked it in a parking lot at the airport in Salt Lake City for about a week, in January. And my prof and I returned from our trip we got in my car, I turned the key, and it started right up!  Nice!  He told me that he had never owned a car that could sit like that and then start up like that.  Ah, the beauty of foreign cars!  Like I said before, it was dependable, reliable, and it was also well-engineered, but frankly, not much of a chick-magnet.  Heh heh.  Oh well, if it takes a car to get someone's attention, is it really their attention that you want?  Anyway, I drove this car for a few years and then sold it when I made a major move.  And, mine looked a lot like this:

My next car was probably the most impractical car I've ever owned.  And, when you live in Hawaii, that's one place where you can justify impracticality.  After all, where is there, really, to drive?  I bought a restored 1970 Fiat 850 Sport from an old local who restored and sold cars for a hobby.  I bought it for, was it $1000?  Anyway, it was perfect for a year in Hawaii.  It was big enough for two people and their golf clubs or their body boards.  It was so small that I could sit in the driver's seat, reach over and put my hand over the passenger's door.  I could also, while sitting in the driver's seat, put my arm over the driver's door and touch the ground.  It had the engine in the back and the trunk in the front.  It's engine was tiny - 850cc - and it did good to get up to 55mph.  Still it was fun!

Once I got back to the mainland I needed a more practical car again, and this time it was an Isuzu I-Mark.  I drove this car for the next 5 years or so.  It was a good little car, but one time I got a "coolant power flush" from a Jiffy-Lube kind of a place, and it was never quite the same after that.  Odd, but true!  Still, it did the job I needed it to do, and I was happy to have it.

My next car was the first one that my wife and I bought together.  It was our first family car, and it lasted a long, long, time.  And it would have lasted even longer if I hadn't gotten in an accident when it was totaled!  That was a SAD day!  We loved that car!  I'll spare you the details, but we bought it new and put over 200K miles on it.  And it had a LOT more to give.  We were sorry to see it go!  It was a 1992 Honda Accord that looked just like this one:

As a matter of fact, we lost this car to an accident, and the next vehicle we bought, a Ford Winstar minivan within a week of each other.  We lost the Honda in an accident, and we lost the Winstar when it's engine burned out...that was actually its second engine to go.  Still. the Winstar took good care of us, right up until it died.  You know you've become fully domesticated once a minivan is sitting in your driveway!

With the loss of our car and our van we needed some new wheels.  But, by this time, our children were getting old enough to drive so that we didn't want to spend a lot on a car, and we didn't really want a new one, so we opted to buy a used car from a friend who was moving out of state.  We were able to pick up their 2001 Honda Civic 4-door.  It's a perfect car for teenage drivers.  It's dependable and it is easy to drive. And, it's a Honda, so even now, years later, it's still chugging right along.  We've had to do a few things for it, but nothing really major.  And out it goes just about every day, and back it comes.  Now it's no Accord, but it does the job we need it to do.

And, as I mentioned above, our van died too.  So we had to go shopping for another one of those.  With a crew of 6 and the fact that we take long road trips we needed to get another minivan.  After shopping around we bought our 2nd new vehicle.  It was a Honda Odyssey minivan.  It too is highly reliable, drives and rides well, and takes good care of us while we are out and about.

A while back I came into something of a windfall, so I decided to use part of that to do something that I'd wanted to do for years...get another motorcycle.  I decided to go for a classic, and I bought a Kawasaki Kz650SR.  It's a nice bike!  Not too big, and it has plenty of power.  I rode it for about about year and then decided that it was time for it to go.  Still, it was a blast!  I loved it!  So, this is me on that bike, ready to head off to do some fly fishing.  Good times!

Update: I had this bike for about a year, then it seemed best to sell it.  I don't have a motorcycle any more, but if I did I would probably have sold this one and gotten a different one anyway.  While this bike had plenty of power and was a lot of fun, it wouldn't budge in the morning until it had a chance to sit there and warm up for 2-3 mins at high RPM...not a favorite of the neighborhood.  Plus, it was pretty top-heavy, and felt like it weighed a ton.  Even so, it was a lot of fun!  Cheers.

Our son took the Civic to college, so we were down to just one vehicle for a little while, not long, but decided that we still needed two vehicles.  So after over 20 years of being primarily Honda owners (except for the Winstar) we chose a 2011 Toyota Camry LE.  I owned a Toyota before, and we hope and expect this car to last us a long, long time.  Remember how the car I learned to drive in had an "S" (super) gear?  I guess I've come full circle, because this car has one too.  Huh!

And that's the updated story of "my sweet rides."

What's yours?

(Originally posted 10-22-2011, reposted 1-12-2013)


  1. Wow, you had a lot of cars over the years! Bet each ride gave you good memories, like friends that came and went through the seasons. :D

    - Leisa Dreps -

  2. That’s very deep Leisa. Lol. Had a hand-me-down Mercury Tracer ‘80s model back in the late ‘90s. I used it for about 4 years I guess. :D That car, as troublesome as it was, never broke down on me. :D

    - Maria

  3. You have had so many cars over the years. I assume that you're an expert with car engines by now. Anyway, how's your experience with your latest car? Are you having difficulties steering it?

    Ellsworth Mciltrot

    1. I haven't had any significant problems with any of the Hondas I've owned. Were you referring to the Honda Odyssey or the Honda Civic?