1. The Pinto – ’70 something, Ford, Avocado Green, full back window on the hatchback (not like the half-windows they had on most models). Never rear-ended, and, subsequently, never exploded. This was probably the most poorly made car I have ever been in. The Arizona sun did not agree with it, at all, and the plastic and vinyl interior began to disintegrate almost immediately upon our moving to Tucson. By the time my mother got rid of it, the seat belt buckles had dissolved, leaving a blossom of metal springs and brittle black plastic shards. I used to ride to school with my mom while she was getting her Ph.D. and this was the car we traveled in. Less like a car, and more like the furniture of my very young childhood.
2. The Matador – ’76, AMC, beige, station wagon, brown interior. This one had door handles of shiny textured metal that were inset in the doors. My sister learned to drive in this one, and, as a teenager, ran it up on the median on Oracle Road driving me home from swim practice one rainy afternoon, with me screaming all the while “We’re going to die! We’re going to die!” She denies everything, of course. Of course, she is lying. A real piece, but memorable and beloved in the same way one might reminisce fondly on an old family pet that growled at shadows, barked at crickets, and farted.
3. The Celebrity – ’83, Chevy, black, automatic, 4 door. This was the car I learned to drive in, and the car in which I had my first accident (Grandma, sister, mother all in the car yelling as we plowed serenely into the blue VW Bug trying to turn left in front of us.) The sun in AZ is not kind to all black cars, and by the time this one was sold, it looked like it had been baked in an oven. The paint was utterly carbonized and starting to disappear in places. I also had my first blowjob in this car, from a nice Seventh-Day Adventist girl who never wore makeup, always wore skirts, and who never cut her hair. I eventually broke up with her because I was stupid. It was a good car, and it was my job to wash it every weekend, which I did with varying degrees of conscientiousness.
4. The Lynx – ’82, Mercury, grey, hatchback, standard transmission. This was the car I in which I learned how to drive a stick. Tangerine Road was long, straight, two lanes, deserted, and out in the north boonies of Tucson when I was in High School (now it’s fairly close to civilization, due to the unfettered development now rampant in the Southwest). Once, in high school, my parents let me take my friends out in it, and we stalled in the middle of a busy intersection while I tried to figure out the intricacies of second and fourth gear. My friends screamed as cars careened around us honking and making rude conjectures as to the nature of my parentage. Nobody died, but my friends were still nervous about riding with me, even a year later. Ingrates. A good car, but a little troubled. As was the tendency with my family, we rode it into the ground. Dad eventually cracked the frame in a fender bender, and it became useless to us.
5. The Rabbit – ’82, Volkswagen, brown, four-door, hatchback, automatic. My first car, given me by my parents. I nicknamed it Shadrach after my favorite Beastie-Boys song, and for no other reason. When I later went insane, I sold it to pay for (in this order): 1) rent for a summer, 2) drugs (mostly pot, with the occasional foray into mushrooms, acid, and blotter paper dipped in what was probably roach spray), 3) a motorcycle which I didn’t know how to take care of and which I then proceeded to drive into the ground. It was a good car. I should have kept it, but I was stupid, and since it was a gift, I didn’t value it. Because I was a shithead.
6. The Corrolla – ’81, Toyota, white, two door hatchback, 5 speed automatic transmission. I bought this car with my own money that I earned while living in a trailer park after deciding I needed to clean up and go back to school. It was fairly reliable, except for the time that I tried to drive up to Sedona with my girlfriend for a relationship saving vacation and it broke down about a mile outside of town. The transmission needed replacing, and since Toyota only made the 5 speeds for two years (80 and 81) we had to find a transmission in a junkyard in Phoenix, have it shipped up to Sedona and put in by a gentleman mechanic who recognized the signs of a self-destructing relationship in our eyes and was terribly kind to us in our misery. Other than that, a fine car which I sold to have enough money to come to New York.
Dad only bought American cars, if you'll notice. No purpose to this post, just a story I wanted to tell.