Wheels

On this day in 1896, Henry Ford drove his first Ford through the streets of Detroit. I can only imagine what people thought when they saw it. I wonder what the horses in the city did and thought when they saw it.

My first car after I got my license was a little Nash Rambler that was missing the pedal on the foot feed, so I had to press my foot on the metal bar the foot feed would have been attached to had it been there. My first real car was a Chevy Chevette that my parents got for me when I was in college.  Now we drive a Honda van and a Toyota pickup.  My father loved to buy and sell cars, and the last car he bought was a Subaru when he was 93.  He said it was the nicest car he ever had. I am glad he got a chance to drive it.

What was your first vehicle? Do you have any vehicular prejudices?

40 thoughts on “Wheels”

  1. i would love to be a car guy but dollars prevent it from being a possibility right now
    my first vehicle was a 1970 tan vw van. i loved that car. traveled around the country for two summers and it got sold the following spring looking tired and haggered.
    i bought a fiat convertible after that and then a big old buick riveria with the cool duck tail rear end on to a full size mercury marquis before entering my van era with mini vans by dodge being my next phase i mixed in volvo jaguar lincoln & infinity along the way
    today there’s a vw bug a ford truck a jaguar and a mazda in the driveway all in keep em running mode. i swore off both dodge and honda after bad customer service and zero integrity and love volvo for the same reason
    my bmw motorcycle makes me happy and i hope to have a suburu in my life one of these days

    my kids have toyota and honda’s for ease of turning on the key and going these are great vehicles
    my experience with infinity/nissan was meh. i have become expert at cheap repair with parts from rock auto and used parts suppliers. the vw has 8000 dollars of repairs at the dealer done for 800 in my garage, infinity winter 1500 for struts done for 150 at home . my daughter felt bad when my vw and jaguar engines both got toasted under her watch 1500 each was cheap but untimely
    i used to believe buying a 3 year old car and driving it for two years was the answer to having decent wheels under you for reasonable amounts of money , it worked but i got distracted. today i am in the million mile club . just in my driveway … cars gotta love em
    looking forward to electric.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m a car nut, or I am in the sense I study cars with a passion that is silly since I no longer drive. Years of study have given me strong prejudices. I respect cars that are pleasant to drive, reliable and reasonably priced. That’s not easy to find.

    Four brands offer cars like that: Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Subaru. (Hyundai and Kia share components and design concepts, so in a sense there are just three outstanding car makers.) A company that just barely misses my top rating is Toyota. Anyone looking for a superb new or nearly new vehicle will do well to look at those makers.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. masseratti, lamborginni,ferrari, porshe,austin martin,lotus, all sex appeal,
    i love design and these guys are the best of the best,
    here is an italian design dsy in the parking lot over by lake bde maka ska

    its got 30 or 40 cars and 20 or 30 ducati, vespa, and other coll italian designed 2 wheelers.
    its a highlight. hope it happens this year.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The problem out here is that if you get an exotic sort of vehicle, where do you get it fixed? It used to be that the nearest Honda dealer was 100 miles away in Bismarck. Now the Toyota dealer sells and repairs Hondas, too. The tech guy at my work is on his third Tesla. A guy has to come up from Rapid City and do repairs for him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve never really been a car person, but I do recognize the difference between driving a safe, comfortable, quiet, air-conditioned or evenly heated car with a decent sound system and a noisy, unsafe old rust bucket.

      My one and only new car was a 1973 Mercury Capri. Sweet little car, sporty and fun to drive. I drove it ten years, by which time everything than could possibly rust on it had, and eventually the driver’s side door hinges had rusted so badly that the door literally fell off. That’s when I switched to Saabs. Used ones. I must have had five or six of them over the years, 900 hatchbacks and 9000 Turbos. I loved my Saabs but gave up on them when I could no longer tolerate the neo-Nazi mechanic who had serviced them for years.

      Here’s a 5 star review of his services: “I am at the stage in life where even owning a car is optional-I’m retired. I have been taking my Saab to Jerry for more than a decade. Both of the Saab autos I now own I purchased from him. Every review here is accurate. Jerry is the, THE finest mechanic you are ever likely to find. He does not suffer fools and has the tortured artist persona down pat. Don’t take your car to him if you need a feel-good experience or need reassurance you are a “good person”. Take it there if you want it fixed for a fair price. Give him the room he needs to be Jerry the grump/misogynist/whatever. You aren’t perfect either. When he retires or sells I am selling my cars and riding my bike.You see, I don’t suffer fools either and if he quits I will have to do just that to get my stuff worked on. I can do my bike work and and a lot of my own car work, but Jerry won’t be around and the hassle won’t be worth it.” I concur with every word of this review, but is common courtesy too much to expect?

      My current car, a 2008 PT Cruiser, is the first car I’ve ever owned with automatic transmission. It gets lousy mileage, but since I drive very little, I can drive for close to 2 months on one tank of gas. It has a working radio and CD player, though I have never used the CD player. The car currently has 26,400 miles on it, so as Jerry, my former SAAB mechanic so elegantly put it, it’s going to be your death car, by which he meant that it would be the last car I owned.

      Liked by 6 people

        1. Jerry is actually a pretty interesting person, but his personality is such that you never know how he’ll behave. He’s a connoisseur of fine wine and enjoys gourmet cheeses. He’s a history buff with a decidedly conservative bent. Obviously not your garden variety auto mechanic.

          Here’s an example of one interaction with him. After I lost the side view mirror on my car on my way to pick of Steve, and therefore had to reschedule our outing, I took my car over to Jerry. He dropped everything, climbed up on a loft and rummaged around in an area where he stored odds and ends, and lo and behold, he found the mirror I needed. He installed it, cautioning me that the defrosting feature would no longer work. For payment he wanted $15.00 in cash. When I told him I didn’t happen to have $15.00 cash on me and that I had to go find an ATM and would be right back, he snootily inquired as to what kind of person didn’t always have $15.00 of cash on them. It was not just friendly kidding, it was a nasty put down. In one fell swoop he had gone from the wonderfully helpful guy that he could be, to the nasty man that he most often was. I found that very unnerving. It was like dealing with my mother all over again, totally unpredictable. I had had several such interactions with Jerry. I once inquired about the skeleton of an old chair that he had sitting in his shop. He had recently gotten into upholstering and refurbishing old chairs he told me. At the time I happened to have an antique chair that needed reupholstering, and I knew we’d never get around to doing it, so I asked if he’d like to have it. He said he did, and I made s special trip to Mpls. to deliver it to him. Months later her showed me what he had done with it, and it was beautifully restored. A smart, talented man, but a racist and misogynistic asshole.

          At some point, I had had enough, sold my Saab and didn’t go back. I had been a customer of his for a good fifteen years before I finally said, enough. I shouldn’t have to endure insults from my mechanic for any bumper sticker on my car.

          Liked by 3 people

  5. FIrst car I remember as a kid was a ’56 Plymouth sedan with the dome-like roof and a backseat kids could stand up in.

    First car as an adult was my wife’s 77 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. All Toyotas since then. On our 5th vehicle. We go against conventional wisdom and buy them new and drive them until . . . whenever. The only reason to replace our 2002 Toyota Solara is to upgrade the safety features. Only has a tiny bit of rust and less than 200K miles.

    So we’re Toyota snobs (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).

    My favorite sports car is hands down the Corvette. Actually rented one for 24-hours when I turned 50. How’s that for a midlife crisis? 🙂 Most comfortable driver seat I ever sat in. Felt like Mom was giving me a hug. I took it onto the freeway (near Palm Springs) and nosed it up to about 90 for a few seconds but got nervous and regained my sanity. Talk about power and acceleration! Made me crave doing one of those racetrack bucket list adventures and drive an Indy car or a Grand Prix Formula One car on some famous track. I’d opt for Le Mans, I think.

    Which reminds me that my favorite “video game” is the one where you drive an imaginary race car against other “drivers.” They’ve been around for decades in arcades so they’re not really computer games that every one thinks of as video games today. But I figured out fast that they’re incredibly hard to master, which is by design so you’ll get frustrated and start pumping quarters into the machine for hours just so you can make it through one race without crashing. 🙂 (I never did)

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have seen ads for a new BBC show about traveling in England in classic autos. It features two guys from All Creatures Great and Small. Anyone seen it?

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    1. Peter Davison (Tristan) and Christopher Timothy (James). Not momentous but a gentle sort of light-hearted ease to it. More about the route and the places they stop than the cars.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. When I got my license in ’64, Dad bought a 1950 Plymouth that we called the Tan Bomb – as our second car, and so I’d have something to drive that only cost $100. (Which was a wise move, but that’s another story.) My first real car he helped me buy, too, when out in San Francisco – a bright yellow VW Bug to show up in the SF fog. I was paying him back when I decided to swap that out for my first VW Van so I could move cross country to NYC in ’74. (He “bought” it from me and gave it to my sister.)

    So there was the van phase, of which there were three, last two were pop-top campers. Then came a Subaru, and we finally bought, brand new, a Saturn in 1994 that lasted till 2008, when we got our new Prius, which is still going strong. Can’t think of any vehicle prejudice, but I wish Saturn was still around selling new cars.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to know. At one point in 2002, when both son Joel and nephew Vin were living with us, there were 3 cars at our place and all Saturns. Put up a sign in the garage saying “Saturn Parking Only.”

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  8. My first cars were American-made, Fords and Chevys mostly. They were heavier and more substantial than modern cars but not necessarily safer. In those days, you didn’t really expect a car to be good for more than about 100,000 miles and by 60,000 they often were starting to have problems. I only had one car before we were married and the first few cars we owned were pretty stripped down—stick shift, no air conditioning, not much in the way of accessories. We had a Rambler station wagon that we drove to Calgary and I drove with some schoolmates to a conference in Albuquerque. The flywheel was out of alignment or something and it kept wearing out starter drives. I got pretty good at replacing them. We had an early Honda Civic—about ’76 or so. At that time they weren’t really built for our winters and especially the salt on the roads. The brake calipers had a tendency to seize up and the front fenders rusted through because of the spray off the tires.

    I would never call myself a car guy. I’ve never owned a new car. The closest I’ve come is a lease return. For me, a car is just an appliance. The main thing I ask is that it be reliable and safe. For that reason, the last seven cars we’ve owned have been six Toyotas and one Honda. Whenever I consult lists of the most reliable cars, Toyotas are at or near the top. My mechanic, a Toyota guy, tells me that my Rav4 should be good for around 250,000 miles. That may make it the last car I’ll ever own.

    No other mechanical device I can think of is as anthropomorphically regarded as cars are. To describe or consider a vehicle as sexy or manly strikes me as a kind of synesthesia. Those descriptors shouldn’t apply but I suppose a variety of projection is in play—or some kind of hopeful association.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Hi-

    My first car was my Grandma’s 67 Plymouth Valiant. Built like a tank. I think I got it at 17. No heat and the door locks didn’t work. I mean you could push the button down, but when you pulled the handle the door just opened right up. My friend Pete made fun of me for locking it anyway. One day in HS, my friend Craig came in and told me I left the lights on. I asked if he turned them off and he said No, he had looked and the doors were locked. Ha! Take that Pete.
    Windows would frost over so bad it was a hazard to drive. Kept an ice scraper inside. And a blanket to put over my legs.
    There was a place that sold retread tires. I’d go there, jack up the car myself and use the impact wrench and take the tires off, then roll them inside and the guy would put retreads on. Dad always said the car wasn’t valuable enough for new tires. But I remember doing the retreads more than a few times. Maybe I got 5000 miles on them but I honestly don’t remember. Just seems like I was always in there getting new tires. The transmission finally went out on it.
    Next up was a 78 Buick Skyhawk stick shift. It was a chick magnet. Or I was told it was. It was a pretty nice car and I enjoyed it. Lousy in the snow. But I learned about replacing the clutch in that car. Finally sold it when I couldn’t keep the engine running. A mechanic later told me it was just the gas filter plugged with gasket cement that I had put on there. *Hint, don’t use gasket cement on the fuel filter. Then came a Chevy Eurosport. It was just a car. I don’t have any cool memories of it. It was the car I had when we got married and its the one they decorated.

    Those were my “main” cars. I bought a SAAB 900 for $350 cash. Must have been about 1988. Car was probably 10 or 15 years old. I was really fun! So quirky with the key between the seats and the hood opened to the front and the way the wipers worked and you had to put it in reverse to start it. I drove that as a ‘beater’ when i was out measuring fields. It was really fun. It just wore out.
    Then came the used postal jeep. I got it from a friend of mine and he warned me not to drive it over 60. “Never take this on the interstate!”
    I did once just for a few miles to get between fields and it was scary! But again, such a quirky car. And it came with a pretty good stereo and I still have those speakers somewhere.

    Now days I want a ‘solid’ car. I don’t want it to sound “tinny” when I slam the door. And I’m not above appreciating the creature comforts. Heated steering wheel? Yes please. Sun roof? OK (even if I rarely open it because it’s too hot). Leather seats? SiriusXM? Mirrors that point down when you shift to reverse? Love it all.
    I don’t know yet if we’re going to trade every few years to keep up.
    I had a 2004 Ford Escape that was pretty plain. Bought new. Good car, just plain. Finally traded that for a Jeep Cherokee in 2017. It had a lot of features but just a 4 cylinder engine that was using oil and Chrysler claimed it could burn a quart / 1000 miles and that would be OK. I called BS but no, that’s what they said. So when a guy ran into me, I was happy that insurance totaled it. Used the money to buy a Grand Cherokee with a V6. I like the bigger size for the stuff I’m always hauling around. And the engine isn’t burning oil. At least not yet. (fingers crossed). But it doesn’t have quite as many features. Ah well.

    Got a new (new to me: 2012) pick up truck last summer. Trucks are crazy expensive. This is a 1 ton Ford 350 Super Duty Diesel. Leather seats WITH heat and AC in the seats. It’s just a really nice truck and I really am glad I’m driving it. I’ll keep that until the wheels fall off.

    Kelly is on her third Honda CRV. She loves them and has had good luck with them. But it does sound tinny when you close the door.

    Way back when, I test drove a ‘LeCar’. I take that back. I looked at it. When I saw the spare tire tucked into a corner of the engine compartment I knew it wasn’t the car for me. And when I opened the drivers door a chunk of paint the size of my fist popped off the bottom corner of the door. Pass.
    Drove a VW something that was so rusted I could watch the ground go by under my feet.
    Drove a Jeep CJ7 with a V8 and was so crazy powerful I knew I’d kill myself.
    Drove something; I can’t remember, Grand Torino or something like that, Supercharged. Really cool and screaming testosterone. But rear wheel drive it would suck in the snow and again, I could see myself getting into trouble with that. I’m surprised at 19 yrs old I was smart enough to turn that down and buy the 4 door Eurosport.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You remind me, Ben, that when I came back to Minnesota in ’76, my folks let me have my grandpa’s Plymouth, probably around a ’67 – tan tank the got me by for a couple of years in Mpls before I found my next van.
      (I had driven my blue van out to Wasband with the three cats, a story you’ve heard before…)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am not a car person. I don’t recognize other peoples cars, including those of my neighbors that I see on a regular basis. And I assume this is mostly because I just don’t care enough. YA cares a lot and she can seek a car when we’re out and about in the world and she’ll say “oh it’s the so-and-so”. I could never do this.

    My first car was a Datsun. I bought it in Northfield for $350. The stories of this car could probably fill a couple of blog posts …I don’t even know where to start.

    My current car is a Honda insight. When it was time to buy a new car, I sent YA out into the world with my three or four requirements, and she came back with four options and where they were located and their price and everything else. We whittled it down to two, I went and looked at them and the next day I bought one of them. It was (except for my Saturn), probably the best car buying experience I’ve ever had.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, but I’d be willing to bet that no one on the marketing team that came up with the product name of Saturn even knew that there was such a word as saturnine.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose he could be making it up, and when he says something is a ’56 Chevy, it is really a 1954 Ford. I wouldn’t have any idea.

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  11. I do wish Saturns were still being manufactured. After a ’74 Plymouth Duster (no A/C and vinyl seats – ouch! in hot weather), a ’78 Pontiac Lemans, and 2 Pontiac Sunbirds (which I did like to drive but were lousy purchasing experiences), I switched to Saturn in 1998. The buying experience was so easy and the dealership service was wonderful. I had 2 SL2s which I loved. In 2006 I tried to buy another SL2 but they were no longer being made so I purchased an Ion. Just a few days ago, it passed the 200,000 mile mark. Like her owner, she is just a bit creaky now but I am hoping to get her through at least one more winter. When she has finally got to be replaced I’ll probably go with a used Honda, Toyota, or Subaru. BTW – even though my old Saturn dealership is now Mitshubishi, I still bring my Saturn to their service department. They always have been and remain very good.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. About 15 years ago I was looking for a used car and wanted to find a Saturn wagon. There were not many on the market, though, and the ones that were advertised were spendy, so I finally went with a Ford Escort wagon. The Escort was a great car for me, but it was rusty.

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  12. In this year of abnormal, something normal just happened. Someone in the neighborhood just set off a string of firecrackers. One month from today is July 4 and fireworks will be our only non-CO”VID spreading activity. I may have to buy me some firecrackers.

    Liked by 3 people

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