True Car Love

I love cars. I really love cars. I’m emotional about cars. And my favorite color is orange. More on that later.

When I was about three or four my parents bought a Buick. Looking back on it, it’s quite odd. I’m not dissing Buick, but it was an unexpected choice by my dad. To make things worse, it was a diesel Buick. An early ’80s diesel Buick? Yep. I came by my love of cars honestly, as my dad is one of the few people that shares my passion for the automobile. Up to that point, he had owned quite a few awesome cars that he kicks himself for getting rid of. Several Porsches, Mercedes, ’50s Americana… then the Buick.

The point, which I’m proud to actually be getting to, is that I then knew Buick. Traveling on the Interstate I could spot a Buick going just as fast in the other direction. I soon moved onto other makes. It baffled my parents and made my father proud.

I, too, am extremely proud of a son able to name most makes by sight. He’s three now, but he has been able to spot Mazdas since about two (he called them “Mazda cars”). When he was born, I had a 2006 Mazda3 S Grand Touring 5-door. James, my son, was brought home from the hospital in that car. He spent almost the first three years of his life loving to ride in the “Mazda car.” It’s also the first car he “drove” (stood on the driver’s seat in the driveway, engine off and parking brake on, steering and shifting). That car was fun, but those two events made it special.

Did you notice what I called that car? I didn’t say Mazda, and I didn’t say Mazda3. I said “2006 Mazda3 S Grand Touring 5-door.” Of course that all means something, but every bit of it is important to me. Interestingly, the year is the least important to me, but it dates it. The “Mazda3″ is the model. In this case, the Mazda3 is Mazda’s compact car. It’s a sporty, but still economical car. The “S” shows that it’s the model with the larger 2.3 liter 4-cylinder engine. Very relevant. The “Grand Touring” trim, for 2006, was the top of the line. It was nice. Leather, heated seats, automatic climate control, automatic wipers, Bose stereo, and lots of other cool stuff. And, finally, it was the 5-door model, which was also known as the hatchback. I think the 5-door looked better, plus it was more practical.

So, I love cars, thoroughly and passionately.

Before my parents met, my mom wanted a “Z car,” or a Datsun 240Z. Eventually she bought one and that’s what she had when she met my dad. He insists that wasn’t why he dated my mom, but I think it was a big attraction. I was brought home from the hospital, in my mom’s lap while my dad drove, in that car. It was orange.

When I was young, my dad heavily modified that Datsun for racing, and it was fast! He raced it and we all loved it. I sat in the back (there were only two seats, so I rode in the hatchback area) and I would mimic my dad rowing through the gears. Also, thanks to a huge open exhaust, it sounded awesome and I mimicked the sound often. Just in the last few years I realized that my love of the color orange originated with this car. I have two older brothers, one of which also inherited our dad’s love of cars. His favorite color is orange. This 240Z was passed down to him as his first car.

In February 1984 my parents ordered a red Porsche 944 from the factory. In 1995, when I was 16, I had saved up about $3500 for a car. I loved cars so much that I wasn’t sure what I wanted. My choices ranged from a VW Bus to an MG to a Nissan 300ZX. I was also looking at high-mileage 944s. Coincidentally, my mom’s 944 had about 150,000 miles and they were considering selling it. Perfect. I bought it for $3200, a fair price.

The odometer on that 944 stopped counting many years ago, but I estimate that it has about 250,000 miles on it. Thanks to my wonderful wife, Jill, and with help from my dad, that car is once again in my possession. This car has an underwhelming 143 horsepower, worn brown interior, horrific ergonomics, and faded red paint. But I love this car. It’s irrational, but I have always had a connection with it.

Just before Jill and I moved to Utah, we bought Jill’s dream car: a 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. Unfortunately, after six years of loving her (Sydney, the Wrangler), we had to sell her. I wish we had room to keep all the cars I want, but we don’t. Here’s the text of the listing:

Hello future Jeeper! We would like you to meet Sydney. Sydney is a 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara with only 85k miles. During the first six years of her life, she spent lazy days gently driving to and from the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. There she was always garaged, had never had her top off, and was wearing sad little tires. At that point, she became a part of our family.Sydney was instrumental in our journey westward when we moved to Utah. When we got here we promptly gave hermore athletic shoes (30 Toyo Open Country tires) and frequently took her into the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. Like a faithful pet, she went with/took us everywhere. She spends much of the summer wearing a bikini (top) and enjoying the sun. She likes listening to all kinds of music, but prefers southern rock through the iPod hookup on her JVC stereo and Infinity speakers. Not wanting to be held back, she insisted that we perform surgery to make her three inches taller (lift kit) and buy her a new set of shoes (33 BF Goodrich KM2 Mud Terrain tires). To help her float over the boulders on our many hikes, we added new ProComp shocks. The shocks and tires have less than a thousand miles on them.It deeply saddens us to have to say goodbye, but that time has come. Sydney was never babied during her time with us, but she was extremely well looked after and loved like no other Jeep has been before. If you are looking for a car, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a new, loyal member of your family, come adopt her today.

There were many tears when she left us.

I had thought that I was a bit weird, having the connection to these inanimate objects, but that’s who I am. In recent years I’ve been learning of others like me, and below are two articles that support this.

NY neighbors turn out to mark passing of 30-year-old Honda Civic
In this article a group of people mourn the (near) death of a car. To non-car-lovers, this appears to be just an old, rusty, beater of a car. But, while I have no personal connection to this car, I get emotional reading the story. I get it. I feel for the guy.

Watch this well-told simple story of a BMW 3 Series owner
This article is one I can relate to even more. A boy, who loved cars, bought a car that he had aspired to, took care of it, and has driven it for 20+ years (still does). I want to be this guy’s friend. And, no, it has nothing to do with the fact that his car of choice is a BMW. (Recently, I was fortunate enough to buy one of my dream cars: a 2008 BMW 335i 6MT.)

If you’re still reading, thank you.

If you are a fellow car-lover, I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope you found yourself thinking “yes!” often.

But I hope most of you reading this are non-car-lovers with a car-lover in your life. If that’s you, I hope you understand a little better, or maybe you can now relate in some way.

1 Comment

  1. nice, my dad alwyas loved his 96 LT-1 Camaro SS, and I alwyas hated putting new plugs/wires and opti-spark on it. he just recently traded it in for a new Camaro SS though

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