Memories of cars past

In my 25 years (9 of which legally driving) I have owned 5 vehicles. OK, maybe not free and clear, but I’ve paid monthly for these cars. Allow me to go back into time and be a bit nostalgic…

1. My first vehicle was purchased for me by my Mom while I was at Basic Training. It was a 1997 Ford Ranger XLT. She bought it from a really nice guy with only one arm. I loved that thing. It was red and sure the second gear would grind when I’d try to put it in, but it was my baby and I loved it. When I had my yearly inspection on it, the guy at the garage (whom we’ve been doing business with as long as I can remember) said to me, “I’ll pass it this time, but your transmission is about to fall out…you should probably get that fixed.” When I looked into the price to fix that, I just couldn’t justify the worth of my truck vs. new transmission. In the end I traded it in…

2. 1999 Pontiac Grand Am. Again red. Again purchased from the one armed man. This car was OK, and it took me to Oakland and back when I moved there from Clarion. It rode smooth, I never had any mechanical problems with it and it blended in with the rest of the POS Pitt college students’ cars. I lovingly parked it on McKee Place every night and it was fine until one morning, I got to my car and my stereo was missing…so were my CD’s, a sweatshirt and my high school saxophone that was in my trunk. When the police arrived to take my statement, I said, “I have no idea how they got into my car! No windows are broken!” The cop looked at me like I was such a dumb blonde and said, “Um, well, he got in by taking off your lock on your passenger side door here,” as he pointed and I slapped my forehead. Ugh…dummy!

I never bothered to fix that lock, because a week later, when I parked on Semple, my car was broken into AGAIN but this time they only got the one dollar bill I had in my center console. but they smashed my window completely. I took my insurance money from that debacle and used it as a down payment for ….

3. My 1999 Ford Explorer. It had a stick shift. I didn’t care if they told me the engine was made of chocolate, and clearly that was obvious, because I bought it without having it been inspected by their mechanic. Turns out the electrical system didn’t work. Since I bought it in the winter, who needs their windows down, right? Hmm…this girl. Plus, the night I bought my car, I found out that my sister and I made out with the same guy in the same night. Like woah.

I loved my Explorer, though. I named it Roux and we went through thick and thin. The electrical system picked and chose what days it wanted to work, and we were OK with that. The air conditioner always worked, so no worries. When Matt and I first started dating and unofficially living together, he borrowed it a lot to take him to class since his POS was constatnly dying on him. This thing was a tank and reliable.

I later found out that the module that controlled the power options was recalled, and instead of going to the dealership to have mine fixed, I traded it in for…

4. My 2004 Mini Cooper. Oh boy. This thing was so bad for me it was good. I went through a whole lot of crap to get it, since the dealership didn’t want to take my Explorer as a trade in. But, I was sold on the Mini. Smart? Not so much. Expensive? You betcha. Worth it? Hells yes.

See, when you buy a Mini, unless you’re buying one of the few they have on the lot or used, you get to design and order yours to be made custom for YOU…in ENGLAND! Six weeks later, I was a proud owner of  a Mini Cooper, baby. I watched it be born and put together LIVE on the internet. I chose a yellow one with black stripes (for the Pens of course) and that thing could handle turns like you wouldn’t believe. There was a sign off of 28 that said, “Have you hugged a curve lately?” It was an ad for Mini. Everytime I saw it, I said, “Yessir, I have.”

Then I got pregnant with Claire.

5. 2007 Jeep Patriot. We went to the dealership and I said, “I want this vehicle, I want my payments to be this much and I am only putting down X amount of money…and you have to give me my Kelly Blue Book Value on my Mini, or we’re walking.” The car guy looked at us, said, “Um, lemme see what I can do!”

By the end of the day, I had my Mini Cooper sitting sadly in the lot waiting for its new owner…but it was fully paid off, plus an extra grand, and I drove off the lot with my Patriot. It’s cute, it gets decent gas mileage and I haven’t had a single issue with it yet. I really can’t complain.

Nevermind that the Patriot I said I wanted was pretty much the base model and we left with the one that was “fully loaded” with premium speakers, Sirius satellite radio, premium wheels, upgraded no-stain fabric (where the dude demonstrated it by using grape juice…it was pretty sweet, and true!) and a really neat automatic tint rear view mirror. The last thing is bitchin’. Especially when I drive at night and some douche-nut has their brights on. Really. No need. But the rear view mirror automatically dims for me. It’s love.

As previously mentioned, Matt and I are going to be trading in his Volkswagen, and we have narrowed our search down to a Volvo xc90. It got the best crash test ratings, it was made in Sweden (sorry Grandma,) (Oh, we’re Norwegian, FYI,) and it’ll work for what we need. Wish us luck not killing each other during the purchasing process. It’ll go down in the next few months…

Please excuse my bad hair, bad wardrobe and all around wrongness. But my car was pretty f’ing sweet.

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on June 6, 2010, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’ve wanted a Mini ever since “The Italian Job.” I’m just not sure how well I’d fit in one. I know you can’t necessarily judge the roominess by the outside… I used to drive a tiny little Honda CRX and I fit in it just fine.

    How roomy was the Mini, especially in the “headroom” dept.?

    • Cassie or Carly

      It was surprisingly roomy. Carly’s ex was 6’3 or something and fit just fine…we used to stuff him and my 5’9 husband in the backseat for s’s and g’s. One time, I stuffed 3 of our ‘large’ cooks into it when I first got it. (When I worked at Fridays) They were all over 300 or 400 pounds and it was an amazing sight.

  2. Awe, LOVE that Mini Cooper. I studied in England one summer and everyone had one there. I came home with the fever… I wanted one so bad. Too bad I didn’t have any money at the time.

    • Cassie or Carly

      You could SO get one used and cheap! They’re SO worth the scrounging for monthly payments. Swear.

  3. The Mini will be my next car. Yep. And you know you are suburban when you buy a Volvo. Not that I’m criticizing because I would buy one in a heartbeat if I could afford one. Love Volvos. Good choice!

  4. Your Grand Prix story reminds me of the time someone broke into my car. My rather impressive collection of hair metal tapes was sitting right on the front seat, but they were completely undisturbed. That’s the day I learned the true meaning of the word “bittersweet”.

    • Cassie or Carly

      HA! Your comments always make me bust out laughing. Nothing wrong with hair metal tapes. However – if it had been an 8-track…it’d have been GONE.

  5. My car history:
    1. Toyota Tercel: I got it from my parents. It was well worn, but working fine. Some drunk smashed into me and totaled it. Luckily no one was hurt or killed. The car came off the axle.

    2. I took the money and bought a Nissan 180z or something like that. I can’t remember. It was used and got it for about $1,000. It lasted a while. Someone hit me in that one too. Got $2,000 from the insurance company.

    3. Was tired of getting hit so I bought an old Volvo for $800. It was like a tank, except the car sucked. Sold it for $200 to a dealer for parts.

    4. The secretary at the school I taught at was getting remarried to some rich businessman. She was getting a Mercedes and selling her Chevy Citation. I bought it for $1,200. Lasted for 3 years.

    5. Then got a almost new Hyundai for $900. Panicked that it was a Hyundai so I traded it in at the dealer for…..

    6. A Chevy Cavalier. The first year of the new body. I thought I was pretty cool, but of course I wasn’t. They gave me $6,000 for my Hyundai!!!

    7. When I got married, I inherited an Acura from my wife. Now that was cool!

    7. Traded in my Chevy for a Toyota Camry. The beginning of the end of my cool days.

    8. Then we got a Toyota Sienna for the Acura.

    9. Now we have two Siennas. It’s embarrassing frankly.

  6. You had me reminiscing about 1981 and my orange VW Rabbit (circa 1974). Drove that P.O.S. back and forth from Chicago to Dallas 2 or 3 times with no radio or AC. Wouldn’t start either. Had to get it rolling and pop the clutch. Ah, youth. Good times.

    • Cassie or Carly

      OMG. You made me bust up laughing. I have you pictured in my head, running, swearing, sweating and the car getting away from you…

      • Not far from the truth. We once pushed it through a toll plaza going into Oklahoma. Would park at the top of a parking garage so I could get it rolling down the ramp.

      • Cassie or Carly

        Again, you have me busting up laughing. I WANT PHOTOS!

  7. The Guy has declared that, should we marry and have babies, Fiona Fit is COMPLETELY unsuitable for driving his Fries around.

    (I will have him know that Fiona passed her crash tests with flying colors.)

    I ignored him completely until my friend Katie informed me that ONE rear-facing carseat would JUST BARELY fit (ha!) in the Fit, let alone two.

    And there was much wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

    • Cassie or Carly

      Yah…our Mini was the same way. And imagine…getting in and out with a 9 month pregnant belly. No thanks, good sir.

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