Drive Down Memory Lane

It might make more sense to scroll all the way to the bottom, and read backwards until you come back to the beginning. After all, it’s not the destination, but the journey, that is the most important. 🧐

2021 Chevrolet Malibu

And lastly, is the first real new car purchase that will likely be my last. Purchased pre-pandemic, it didn’t track as many miles. My hopes are that my pleasure driving will replace my business driving; my desire to rest will usurp my need to capitalize; and love of cars will only fade amidst my desire to keep ONE.

2011 Chevy Suburban 2500HD

By far the most fun of all of my adult run-abouts! It was a recreation vehicle, a money-maker, a friend transporter, a mobile office, and a school bus. It facilitated advocacy, demonstrated efficiency, and inspired creativity.

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

By far the prettiest. It was enjoyed as an accessory, a fixture, and commodity. Like plenty of luxuries, it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. Depreciation, high-priced maintenance, low reliability resulted in a premature curbing.

1992 Lexus SC400

And then came the current project car. The first challenge was to give it an identity if it own. When, in fact, it’s become symbolic of passion that is lost and excess that is not consumed.

2008 Honda Accord Coupe

It was a classroom of sorts…
It was spotted in many places…
It served as a back drop to be more…
It served as inspiration to do more…
Memories were made…
After a round trip to Florida and becoming a hashtag king, it turned many heads. It was the one that mini-me learned to drive in, took her test in, and hoped would be hers.
This one was the hope and the promise that was never made. It’s the one that was almost paid off, but fate had other plans.

2003 Oldsmobile Bravada

When I asked either of my kids if they were interested in this one as a first car. They both replied, “ewwww!” So they both ended up with nothing.
First foray into municipal auto auctions yielded a $900 profit! It created a false sense of confidence. I registered this one to conceal the purchase price. I blew the profit on the next stratagem that never got registered. Irony?

2005 Dodge Charger POV

Elwood: “It’s an old Mount Prospect police car.” Jake: “The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.”
Purchased sight-unseen, it took nearly 7 months to find a new owner who was even less profound.
And so the quest to find a project car began. This was Daddy’s failed attempt to either flip a municipal police car for profit or pickle a project car.

2005 Toyota Avalon Touring

This could not be the car that the kids learned to drive. Dad’s classiness would soon be traded for a practical trainer. Something cute and nimble perhaps?
As Dad took photos, he realized that he chronicled more than a love for automobiles. Soon the children would be driving too.
And Daddy’s princess was developing character of her own. As her character developed, daddy matured. There was reason to be more responsible. And few cars are more responsible than a Toyota.

2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10

Daddy needed a more family-friendly transport. Perhaps a peppy luxury sedan?
It had character, but remained in the driveway most of the time.
It was the fastest production truck ever made. It’s fuel economy was nearly the worst for any passenger vehicle at the time (second only to the Hummer H2) It could pass anything on the road except for a gas station!
Alas it was time to remove the old rescue squad truck from the back yard. What better way to commemorate Dad’s love of Dodges than to buy my own dream truck and name it after his old wooden sailboat Exta Sea?

2001 Lincoln Navigator

Three years later, two restless parents could not agree on one compromise. The compact car was sold to cover the retainer, but this SUV was a consolation prize for a dad who couldn’t get enough time with his kids.

1998 Honda Accord (white sedan)

But a week before my son was born, our previous Honda was pushed through an intersection and into a utility pole. Deployed airbags saved us all. The uninjured driver who disregarded the stop sign watched us take an precautionary ambulance ride. Our newborn son came home from the hospital in daddy’s newest ride.

1998 Honda Accord (blue sedan)

But it wasn’t long before my family grew and a need for another family-responsible auto. 4 cylinders for four family members only made sense when rising gas prices might prevent date nights and family outings.

2003 Suzuki Katana

Purchased with only a rider’s permit, I rode it for 7 days before my first accident. But as any dedicated rider would, I was back up and riding soon after…

1979 Honda CB650

Purchased from a fellow teacher, I was quickly schooled on motorcycle ownership. It wouldn’t be long before I stepped up to something faster.

1998 Dodge Ram SS/T

After 36k miles of spirited driving had prematurely ended the lease on the Audi, we needed a replacement. We returned the 180hp sport coupe 2+2 for a 3 seater with a lot more pep.

2001 Audi TT (180hp)

Shortly after my daughter arrived, her Daddy wanted something to develop her own enthusiasm for automobiles, or so it would seem. Rally racing and car shows were not uncommon.

1995 Ford Contour SE

The day that our baby shower was planned, I was given ONE JOB. I only had to distract my new bride while our friends and family planned the surprise. A trip to the car dealer fit the bill nicely. But when asked what my gift to the baby and mom-to-be would be, I gulped and offered this car that we were test-driving.

1940 Dodge Power Wagon Rescue Squad

Not long after I negotiated my first auto loan, I began to plan my family. I transplanted this old rescue squad truck from Salem, where my father had parked it nearly 25 years earlier.
It’s cruising days had long-since ended. But my new home became its new home, and it watched my family grow.

1995 Pontiac Bonneville SSE

My mileage checks added up to provide a down payment. Trading my stripped-down convertible covered the expense of the taxes and registration. This was the first and last time that I exploited a “push, pull, or drag your trade…”

1989 Toyota Tercel DX (5spd)

My first full time job after college graduation required me to commute 100 miles daily to Cape May. The mileage allowance alone paid for this tin can. With no radio nor carpet, the only luxury was a full-size spare. My shifting skills got some practice and I sold it six months later before the clutch revealed its ware.

1979 Dodge Ramcharger 4×4 Convertible

After an uninsured driver rear-ended my 83, my quest for a convertible Ramcharger yielded this beast! With a 2 inch body lift and a 2 inch suspension lift, the 35 inch tires fit beneath those wheel wells nicely. It too got terrible gas mileage and became more affordable to ride the bus to class.

1973 Dodge Challenger SE

I thought that every Motor-head should own a classic. In anticipation, I purchased this hot rod a few years before it became a classic. A cash advance on a college credit card was not the biggest mistake, but I think I may STILL be paying for this one.

1983 Dodge Shelby Charger (rare automatic)

My love of Dodges did not transfer into my other relationships well. This beauty was the first I bought for cash from a used car dealership. Although I bought it for my college sweetheart, her appreciation never manifested. Neither relationship lasted long enough.

1979 Ford Bronco

My best buddy nurtured a love of Fords. Despite my fondness of Dodges, I decided that if I ever had the opportunity, I’d acquisition a Bronco. I traded the pick-up for this beauty, but it needed more than I could offer. They joke that F O R D stands for something. But “on the road” it could not stay.

1984 Saab 900 Sedan

My freshman year in college, I met the Vice President Provost of the college. He became my mentor. He recognized my love of automobiles and made me a proposition: mow his lawn for the summer and this beauty would be mine. I fulfilled my end of the deal, but was never able to get it running. It sat in my yard until I graduated.

1979 Dodge Pick-Up 4×4 shortbed (5spd)

My uncle once warned me to never buy a used vehicle from a mechanic. But there were no rules about buying a vehicle for sale across the street from a mechanic. And so this beauty was my #2. A sunroof was cut into the roof and then resealed with caulking. The seats were always wet! It got 9 mpg because it was engineered with full time locking hubs for the four wheel drive.

1983 Dodge Ramcharger 2wd

My first car. I got it when I was 15 years old. My father challenged me to work hard in order to keep it. I did a landscaping job for the church for two years to earn enough money to put it on the road by my 17th birthday.
Twenty years later, my efforts to preserve it failed. The necessary disassembly never gave way to the goal of restoration.
In the end, the replaced engine got waterlogged, the rodents made their nests, and the wheels were stolen. Inevitable the junk man took what was left.

The plan is to sift through old registrations and bind all of my records (because I’ve saved them all) for each of these vehicles. Each insurance card, traffic ticket, and accident report is a story. Automobiles have lives. They are also apart of our lives.

I’ve always kept at least one key from each automobile that I’ve ever owned. I’ve created a makeshift shrine. Not long from now, a new project will begin. These autos will be exhumed. They will rise again from the ashes. They will be located and brought together, not just in spirit.

The ultimate hobby will soon begin. Their Vehicle Identification Numbers will live again. Not as zombies, but as wheeled angels. And those keys will be used not only to verify their identity, but to start their engines again.

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