Saturday, June 24, 2006

My History of Cars

I was 14 when I got my first driver’s license. My teen years were spent driving my parents’ Cadillac and Impala. Too big for a teenaged girl. Driving meant a lot to me, but cars did not, maybe because I started in my parents’ vehicles. It didn’t occur to me to take pictures, so I searched the Internet for my history of cars.

The first car that was mine – really mine – was a 1965 ½ Mustang convertible. Now that’s more like it, a fun car just made just for me. Mine was blue with a white top that automatically lowered when the weather was right, stick shift. This was my only convertible, but fun, fun, fun.

Next, a 1969 Camaro. Darker blue than the Mustang. Four on the floor. Once I was parallel-parked and the car behind me had inched too close. I had to ask a fellow student – a pretty big guy just walking by – to help me get out of the parking space. Maybe I should have opted for the power steering, but that was only once.

Okay. Now I was a single mom with two toddling boys and a priority for economy. It was time for a used car, a 1973 Mazda RX2. This was the first Mazda sold in the US, certainly the first rotary engine, but it was reliable and gas-efficient, so it was the car for us. However . . . it did break. I left it with a mechanic who told me – after about a week – he could not work on that car because it had a strange engine. I needed a new car with a warranty.

There was a great sale at the Lincoln-Mercury dealer. A car I could afford! They told me I didn’t want that one, there were several nicer cars on the lot for just a little more. This car was too big for a little lady like me and it didn’t even have power steering or air conditioning. No. I’ll take the loss leader because I could afford it, and I have learned to deal with tough steering, and I found an after-market air conditioner that would work. We had a silver Mercury Monarch, the biggest car I ever owned, but my family was growing up and we could use the room.

Our finances were easing, our car was aging, and I found a good sale. We now had a new Toyota Corolla with factory air. This car was more than reliable, parts were guaranteed within 24 hours if we needed them, there was room, the car was small enough to make the steering easy, it had high gas mileage – what more could anyone want?

Now it was time for a fun car again. My older son told me he wasn’t in
my “car family” any more, so I could get a two-seater. I tested a Thunderbird, a Mustang – yes, they had convertibles – a Corvette, an Alpha Romeo, but I bought a 1987 tornado silver Mazda RX7 turbo, complete with a rotary engine. Wow. Then MS came. My RX7 had a disabled license plate, but it was still fun.

Now I have a 1991 Nissan Maxima with help for my MS symptoms: a lift on the back to carry my scooter, power steering for the first time, and automatic transmission. We took off the hand controls because I no longer drive, but I had a good time when I did and it was fun to remember.

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