I sometimes wonder: what do they 'say' about me? Cars should say something about their owners. (Which is why I so detest Civics. Sorry, DCists.)
Allow me to introduce them. Family.
- "Petunia," 1978 Volkswagen Microbus (Westfalia).
She was my first car; I bought her when I was fifteen. Rather, my dad bought her, and I paid her off. I barely remember the hows or whys of being seduced by aircooled Volkswagens. Some boys fall in love with Mustangs, others Camaros. Maybe pickups or shag-carpeted conversion vans (those boys grow up to be perverts.)
Nonetheless, I bought her in Brookings, Oregon. I fell in love the instant I saw her. She sat on that hilltop dealer's lot and just called to me. "Juuuuustin. Jussssstin. Come, look. See me. I am everything. I have a sink. A refrigerator in which to store illicitly obtained beer. A stove, even. BEDS, Justin, I have beds. You can go camping and have friends with you and have the coolest goddamned car on the planet. You will never be at a stoplight and be embarassed to see another car just like me (unless you are in Arcata.) I possess the throaty put-put-put that only an aircooled engine can produce, and I'm not a Corvaire. I am neither a hippy van nor something your parents would ever drive. Come, Justin." I will never, ever, never ever ever get rid of this car. I may even be buried in her. (I plan next to restore a VW Karmann Ghia. Convertible, of course.)
Currently, she is in the last, very last bit of a 6-year restoration struggle. Nearly finished, now. I can't wait to come back to the States and drive, just drive. Nothing compares to driving an old VW. Fahrvergnugen, indeed.
- "Don Vito," 1990 Chevy Suburban V2500.
Four years ago, I was itching for a Suburban. Just itching. I didn't want a SoccerMom truck, though. Mine had to have rough edges. I spent months and months looking, mostly online. One day: serendipity. On Ebay, of all places. He was only a three-hours drive away, so I could see him up-close and personal before I committed. I did, and I did. Don Vito is a redneck truck, surely. Lifted, slightly. Giant-assed chrome brush guard. Big A/T tires. NINE, countem NINE miles to the gallon. Before I left (and its worse now, or so I've read,) it cost over $100 to fill him. Oh, but he has power. And a style all his own. I can put my daughter in the back seat, the dogs behind her, me and a passenger up front, bikes up top, and we all have room. It just goes and goes and goes. It will effortlessly move both my household goods and tow a VW Bus (Petunia) from Texas to Georgia to Virginia to Maryland. (I recall moving a friend of S's entire apartment in one trip.) Sadly, Don doesn't like serpentine belts. But he does like to throw them when I'm on a long road trip. Like any child, though, I suffer his temper knowing that really, he's a good kid. A very good kid.
- "As-yet-unnamed," 1985 Mercedes 300SD.
A recent purchase. Gift, really... but I've pumped enough money into it, it might as well be considered a purchase. I bought this car because its just cool. And different, surely. Who drives an old Mercedes? Old people, and me. (I can't wait to get a bike rack on it.) My impetus was this: S's mom (bless her) was going to get rid of it, donate it to someone for the write-off. (Digression: Persians drive Mercedes. A lot. Go to Lima in NW on a Persian night, and count the MBs. You'll quickly run short of fingers and toes.) It hadn't moved in over a year, and it was a constant source of mechanical and electrical headaches even before that. (Perfect interior, though.) But I fell in love with it and just insisted that I could make it work. And it does! At 34 mpg, no less! (Which dovetailed nicely with my 1 1/2 hr commute. Driving Don Vito was killing me on gas.) This car just cruises. In style. Again.
I'd add to my stable (I want an old Land Rover, natch) but I don't have the room. Hell, I don't have the room for the three I own now: the VW is in a shop (rewiring the loom), the Suburban is parked on base, and the Benz is being cared for by a friend.
What do they say about me? I know what I think they say, but I've never asked someone else. Hmm. And your car? Does it have personality?