A Not So Brief History Of Cars I’ve Owned

ZOMG, I love my new Smart Car.  I still can’t believe it’s mine mine mine!  It has new car smell.  And it’s shiny!  I’ve never understood before why people do things like wash their car or vacuum their car or not leaving their car full of empty coffee cups1 and various other pieces of garbage. Until now. I’m seriously thinking of places to drive to, just to have an excuse to drive it!

Of course, this is the first new car I’ve ever owned. I’ve owned cars before, but they’ve been of the decades-old-rust-bucket variety.  The kind that are so cheap that a starving student can buy them with the meagre bit of money they have and insurance for it is dirt cheap because why would you insure a decades-old-rust-bucket for more than the bare minimum anyway?  I’m of the philosophy that if you are gong to own a car, it should be something awesome (like, say,  a Ferrari) that you totally, totally love or it should be a most ridiculous piece of trash that anyone in their right mind would be embarassed to own and you totally, totally love it.  Either way, you get good stories out of it.

The first car I drove was my parents’ Jeep.  A silver ’86 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer.  And it was probably the worst car ever made.  It went through something like 3 engines and 8 transmissions.  God, that thing was a piece of crap.  On the plus side, my sister and I got to drive it when we were in high school and not everyone has a car in high school, right?  My mom never got a driver’s license, so as soon as my sister got hers, my dad bought the pick-up truck he’d always wanted but could never justify having because we needed at least one vehicle that fit our family of four and really, how could he justify having two vehicles with only one driver in the family?  After high school, my sister went to the Ontario College of Art and so moved to Toronto, where the transit system is very, very good.  When I was done high school, I went to McMaster, so I moved to Hamilton, where the transit system is very, very not good.  And so I got the Jeep.  This would have been around 1996.  The thing somehow lasted a couple more years and finally gave up the ghost around 1998.

scan by you.

It’s not a very good photo, but it’s the only one of the Jeep
that I can find.
That’s my sister, showing off a shirt
that she painted a picture on, but in the background is the Jeep!

And that was when I bought my beloved ’89 Honda Civic. It was 10 years old, had a manual transmission and I believe cost $2,000.  I had her for a few years in Ontario and then brought her out to Vancouver when I moved here.  In all that time, I never once had any engine problems.  The brakes had to be fixed after towing her from Ontario to BC (it was never really clear what happened, but when we took her off the towing trailer when we got here, the brakes just didn’t work anymore), but that was really the only mechanical issue we had.   It was an amazing little car – by the end, it had a 402,798 km on it, was more rust than car (too many Ontario winters did it in), the passenger door didn’t open (so passengers had to get in through the driver’s side door) and trunk didn’t close fully.  Oh yeah, and the gas gauge didn’t work – it always said the tank was full, regardless of how much gas was in it, so you pretty much just had to fill it up all the time, just in case. But I didn’t care, I still loved that car.

scan0012 by you.

My beloved Civic. Image credit: me! on Flickr

She died at Granville & W. 70th Avenue when my ex2 and I were driving back from the airport after dropping off my friend Kaede, who had been visiting.  She stalled at a couple of intersections, but we managed to get her started again, but when she stalled at Granville and W. 70th, there was no bringing her back.  My ex had been rear ended in it a few days before and I maintain that the car was being held together by rust and getting hit resulted in the rust getting knocked loose and so her insides fell apart.  A homeless person helped us push her off the road and into a parking lot3 and that was the end of my beloved Honda Civic.

Civic Odometer by you.

Image credit: me! on Flickr

After the Civic, we bought a little red Dodge Colt and it was OK, but I never loved it the way I loved my Civic.

Photo Not Available by you.

I know I have a picture of it somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.

Then my ex and I broke up and he took the car, but killed it shortly thereafter as it had an oil leak and he didn’t replace the oil and you know what’s not good for an engine? No oil, that’s what.

After the divorce, this became my main mode of transportation:

20070924-3 - Blurry cars, buses and trains by roland.

Image credit: roland on Flickr

As proof, here’s a photo of me and some friends on a bus.

IMG_0956 by you.

Image credit: me on Flickr

Oh, the good ole’ bus!

In 2007 I supplemented my bus pass with this:

car co-op by velkr0.

Image credit: velkr0 on Flickr

The bus served me well most of the time – I live one block from a bus stop and it’s only a 15 min bus ride to my current office and a 15 min bus ride in the other direction to UBC for teaching. But the one thing the bus couldn’t do was get me to hockey. In 2007, I joined a hockey team that plays in Coquitlam on Sundays and you can’t get there by bus. So the Car Co-op was the perfect solution – it allowed me access to a car for my once per week hockey games, but I didn’t have to pay for having a car the rest of the time, when I didn’t need it.  An average month of using the Car Co-op to get me to hockey once a week cost, all told4, about $130.  Which is less that you’d pay for insurance on a new car. And that has worked for me for the past two years.

Enter: the new job.  The new job, which I’m starting in just more than a week, requires me to use a car 5 days a week .  Well, unless I want to take the bus an hour and 40 minutes each way, which I most certainly do not. Plus, I’ll need to do some driving around for the job itself, which is difficult to do without a car.  And at that level of usage the Car Coop actually becomes more expensive than having your own car. And so, enter the Smart Car.  My first ever brand new car. And I love it so so so so much5.

IMG_4871 by you.

Look how cute it is! Cute cute cute!  And safe and fun to drive and ridiculously good on gas!  I have decided that I am, in fact, going to name her Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car6,7.

IMG_4797 by you.

Me and Zaphod.
Or “the Beeb” as I like to call her.

Anyone wanna go for a drive?

1As the last time I owned the car I wasn’t quite the travel-mug-using-hippie I am today and I used to get paper cups. *hangs head in shame* From Tim Horton’s. Which I now find to be very not good. Like undrinkably ungood. But I digress.
well, he wasn’t my “ex” at the time.
3A lot of people honked at us and yelled at us to get out of the intersection (as if we were just sitting in the intersection for fun!), but only the homeless guy offered to help us.
4That includes the use of the car, maintenance, gas, insurance, BCAA and tax.
5My friend Alicia used to work for a company that had Smart cars as their company cars and she *hated* them. We have agreed to disagree on this.
6“the Car” is to differentiate my Zaphod from Zaphod Beeblebrox the First, the Second, the Third, the Nothingth, etc.
7Kalev is loudly and vehemently protesting this name8, which he believes is horrid and, despite being on the brink of getting his British citizenship, he hates British humour. We have agreed to loudly and vehemently disagree about both of these issues.
8He is referring to Zaphod as “Dr. Car” instead.

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  • You no longer like Tim’s? When did that happen?

    And I also hope that no one conks me on the head while collapsing to have a seizure while we’re travelling in your NEW mode of transportation. TRANSLINK HATES ME!!

    Though I still carry Translink tickets in my wallet, because it means that I am always coming back to visit…

    I can’t wait to see your car!

    Sarah’s last blog post..Two posts in two days? It’s a Georgetown miracle!


  • You know, I think I realized that I no longer liked Tim’s quite some time ago, but it took me awhile to actually admit it to myself. It’s not like I’ve started liking Starbucks or anything (their cofee does still taste burnt to me), but I just like coffee a bit stornger than the Timmy’s variety now.

    Translink does, in fact, hate you. There is no denying it. But here’s hoping that no one conks you on the head while having a seizure in my car… since my car is only a two-seater, so that would have to be ME having a seizure! Yikes!

    Awww, you carry Translink tix in your wallet?? That’s so sweet!!


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