I’m not as much of a car enthusiast as some friends of mine, but I do put significant thought into my choices, as eccentric as they may be. I love comparing tech specs and reading reviews. The earliest car I remember admiring was the Fiat X1/9, and then the DeLorean, then the BMW 850. But those were just idle dreams from afar. Here’s a list of what I actually drove:

  1. VW Rabbit mk1. Technically I did not own this myself, but I was the primary driver in college. My family actually had two of these, an orange 1976 with upgraded Holley carburetor, and later a metallic brown 1979 diesel.
  2. In 1990, I got an early-eighties Volkswagen Quantum hatchback. The shape seemed quirky-sporty to me at the time, although it had less than 90 horsepower in its 4-cylinder longitudinal front engine. What I really wanted but could not afford was its 5-cylinder cousin Audi 4000 quattro aka the B2 Audi 80, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Or an Acura Integra, but those were too new and unproven, and I was not yet ready to try a Japanese car.
  3. In 1991, I financed a 1986 Hyundai Excel hatch at the astronomical interest rate of 20%. First cars can be that way, until you establish a credit history/score. Don’t remember much except I blew the engine shortly after paying it off, due to neglecting oil-checks. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was yet another Ital-design by GG. No wonder I’ve always admired the DeLorean.
  4. In 1995 I financed a 1990 Nissan Axxess AWD with 100,000 miles on it for $5000. This time I qualified for much lower interest. I drove it to well over 200,000 and loved the peppy 2.4L engine. I should have kept it. Sold it to a flaky neighbor who never finished paying me before he disappeared.
  5. Leased a new 2001 Nissan Xterra for 5 years, enjoyed it, but cheaped out and did not buy it at lease end. Regretted letting it go, as my next few cars ended up costing me more in churn and maint.
  6. Infiniti G20 for me, and I30 for my long-suffering wife, who would have been happy driving her Mercury Cougar, but I could not stand it. After discovering that a child car seat didn’t fit well in the back seat of the G20, I sold it to an enthusiast who didn’t seem to mind the torn CV boots.
  7. Bought an old 1987 Isuzu Trooper 2-door stick-shift from a friend in need, fixed it up, and sold it back to him a year later with new suspension bushings, water pump, and un-sagged door hinges.
  8. For some reason I had become enamored of the rustic truck idea, so in quick succession I bought a couple of Nissan pickups, but couldn’t stick with the austerity. One odd diesel short-bed, and a 4×4 king cab that could not pass smog.
  9. Bought a 1996 Subaru Impreza, one of the last non-interference engines. Drove it over 220,000 until I sold it for twice what I paid for it. Granted I’d bought it for $500 from a college-student who was discouraged by having wrecked it. But all it needed was a replacement passenger-side door. I never bothered filling in the large dent in the bottom of the door frame, so it had lots of road noise coming in through the gap. I might have kept it, but it was so gutless.
  10. In 2012 I bought a high-mileage 1999 Mitsubishi Montero Sport for $2000 and loved it–while it lasted. Shortly after cresting 200,000 miles, the transmission died. It was such a comfy ride, I bought another one almost identical for $1000 but similar story except head gasket blew.
  11. Thought I’d try something American, so I bought a 2004 Ford Escape. It was ok for a few years, until its head gasket blew just short of 190,000 miles.
  12. Tired of the used car churn, the new 2016 Honda Civic caught my eye, so I bought a base 2.0 LX with automatic CVT. Reputationally, it should go past 200,000 with ease. It has almost twice the horsepower of my old VW Quantum, and basically fulfills the Acura Integra desire from so long ago.
  13. In 2019, I stumbled upon a 1989 Acura Legend with low miles. Mostly in great shape for its age, except a dented-in driver side door that prevented the window from going down all the way.
    1. Update: mere weeks after the Acura, I got a new job, with a long commute that required a smooth-riding car. So I traded in my Civic on a Dodge Charger, of all things. (The Acura would have taken too much work to get the air-conditioning reliable, so I loaned it to a friend who cares less about creature comforts.)1989 Acura Legend coupe
  14. The 2014 Dodge Charger is so nice and comfortable, I feel self-indulgent almost every time I drive it. The Daimler bits it inherited from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class platform all feel great.

What’s the future? Who knows. I always struggle between the practical and the interesting. Perhaps a Mini Cooper, a Subaru AWD, a Honda HR-V, a Toyota 4-runner, or maybe something electric? More likely a sporty car that is a little (2+2) like a Subaru BRZ, or a post-2015 Mustang.