October 26, 2016

A History Of Cars

The first car I ever remember is my grandfathers BMW. I think it was white. I was three maybe four, sitting on his lap as he pretended to let me drive it. The tiny round lights up front. Tan leather seats. Maybe a wooden gear shift knob.

Next, America. 1980. Our family owned a sparking metallic green Volkswagen Bug with brown interior. I loved the little side triangular windows and the way it never felt completely insulated. Gusts of wind entering from random empty spaces in the car. The engine made it feel like a rocket.

1986 Our first showroom floor brand new car- A Nissan Sentra. Silver and with zero perks. It was the base model and had no features expect maybe a fan, but that didn’t matter because it was our first new car with the new car smell and the pricing sticker on the window as we drove it home. Four doors and a trunk, we were moving up in the world.

I learned to drive with that car, my dad and I out near Handy Man and the Dump. Francisco Boulevard- our hood. It was a stick shift. One day he let me drive it into the city and somehow he forced me onto one of the crazy steep streets. And while I begged him to take over he refused. “If you really want to be a good driver, you have to learn how to handle this.” I used the emergency break and found the sweet spot on the clutch to get us home. I was terrified and sweaty, but now I am grateful for those hard lessons.

1991- I bought my first car. A royal blue 1979 VW bug. I was still in love with bugs. My parents agreed to match whatever I had saved, so for $1700 I had my first car. I will never forget the feeling of popping in the Appetite for Destruction cassette and heading toward Jason’s house. The feeling of freedom was intimidating. I knew at that moment that I could, if I wanted, drive away from home, never come back and go anywhere I wanted.

I abused that car. We jammed up to eight people in Ole’ Blue. I once almost drove it off a cliff after a party, damaging all four wheels. I left it on fourth street and drove home. In the morning, my dad asked me where my car was and I had no idea. After a while I remember, and when we went to get it, he nearly lost his mind with anger. The wheels were all shaped like squares. We had to have it towed to a shop.

In the end, I never once changed the oil or took it to the shop. I put gas in it and drove, until one day it stopped on the highway somewhere near Larkspur. I had it towed to the dump for $25 bucks and never saw it again.

Our family car lasted well into my high school years and actually drove me down to San Diego my first year of college. The whole family including my grandpa, who we dropped off in LA. We packed all my sheets and towels and stuff and headed south.

A few months after that, my parents finally threw in the towel and separated for good. I am not sure what happened to the car, but the next time I came home my dad had bought a new Eagle Summit. (Some kind of Dodge copy) I don’t remember what my mom was driving. I moved back in with my dad by X-Mas and he left for Iran shortly after that. He left me the car with the understanding that he would help me pay the payments if I could pay the insurance.

I had this car for a while. A few years. Driving it to College of Marin and La Petite and Bank of America where I work. Until I got too many tickets and had my license suspended. I couldn’t afford the insurance any more and couldn’t get a hold of my dad. I didn’t know what to do and the idea of selling a car was too much for me, so I drove it to the dealership, handed over the keys and I said I don’t want this car anymore, you can have it back. The guy looked shocked; I am pretty sure no one had ever brought a car back and said take it.

I walked home.

I didn’t have a car when I moved back to San Diego, but I used to spend a lot of time in The Red Wolf, Jeff’s truck. I have no idea what make it was, but we used to abuse that car too. It had a kick ass stereo and we played it pretty loud. One Halloween we dressed up like girls and drove it to Santa Barbara. The last night at Bob and Ari’s place, a fire extinguisher was set off and covered everyone and everything with green dust. For some reason this green dust stayed in the Red Wolf for months after.

Back home living in San Francisco my car was the Muni. Buses from Haight to downtown and the N Judah line trolley to SFSU. One summer we decided to buy a VW bus to drive across the country on a two month road trip. We painted forest green and lined the floor with black shag rug and purple velvet curtains. It made it to DC and New Orleans and finally back home. Anthony didn’t know how to drive a stick so I would get it started out of the gates and switch seats once we were in 3rd or 4th gear. Mary and Cortney never drove. I loved that car. We kept it for a few weeks after the trip, but parking was a pain the ass so we sold it for nearly what we paid for it.

Then off to Mozambique and back to NYC. No cars. Shapas. MTA, bus, train, feet.

In Malaysia we bought a tiny purple Proton. It got us around and my only real memory was the terror I felt driving Kaia home form the hospital in it. Sold it before we left.

Doha- we bought the car I have hated the most. A white Jeep Cherokee that was the biggest piece of garbage I have ever owned. Bought it from a lying Qatari and there was something wrong with it for three years. Sold it before we left.

Jakarta- Leased a big black Toyota van and actually had a driver. 75 year old, nearly blind Sunario. It was practical and roomy. Sunario was great with the kids. He barely spoke but he helped us get by in Jakarta or he ripped us off, hard to tell in Indonesia.

And finally, Singapore. We own a ten year old Hyundai Verna, which ironically is very much like our Nissan Sentra. It gets us around and is nothing special. We have to sell it in March because in Singapore you are not meant to have cars that are older than ten years. I wonder what car we will have next.

Each one of these cars has a million more stories, but this was just a start. Which car would you like to hear more about?

I didn’t mention the various Fords that Jason owned, but they too were near and dear to my heart, but that is another post as well.

Tell me about some of your cars.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, you send me driving down the rabbit hole.... http://cogdogblog.com/2016/10/car-points/