The Dirty Dozen (+ 2)

It occurred to me while sifting through bills that my current leased car—an '07 Dodge Nitro—is the first vehicle I've driven to term since the last vehicle I drove to term: my '89 Isuzu Pickup. After exercising my memory a bit further, I realized I've only outright owned five of the 14 cars and trucks I've bought or leased since my first set of wheels in '79. If 14 cars in 30 years isn't excessive, owning fewer than one in three seems positively decadent.

If it's any consolation (and trust me, it isn't), none of the vehicles I've burned through ever resided at the top of their respective niche. Granted, my '02 Boxter was awesome, but according to memos from Stuttgart that diminutive droptop was the Porsche for women. It took me barely two years to grow weary of that experiment, at which point I traded my Teutonic tanning machine for a Mazda 6 station wagon.

What do I plan to drive after I turn in the Nitro this spring? Before we answer that, let's take a drive down memory lane…

'91 626 4-door, '94 pickup, '04 6 Sportswagon

'98 Extended cab P'up

'79 Ranchero, '97 F-150

'95 Dakota Club Cab pickup with 5.9 liter v-8, '07 Nitro SRT

'96 Impala

'79 Rabbit

'03 Xb

'02 Boxter

'71 Cutlass Supreme

'84 Civic Hatchback

The car I was proudest for having bought for all the right reasons—practicality, affordability, fit, function and performance—was the '84 Civic Hatchback. That vehicle delivered 106,000 trouble-free miles, and with its Jackson Racing suspension mods and sticky tires, it handled like a go-kart. I sold it to a guy who wouldn't take no for an answer, and on his drive home after doing the deal the timing belt snapped and he lunched the top end. Talk about dodging a bullet.

The car that gave me the most smiles per gallon was the '96 Impala. With its cop killer tint and nondescript white paint, it was two tons of fun in the fast lane. Traffic parted like the Red Sea when I rolled down the freeway in the Impala, and more than once I played undercover cop just for laughs.

The Porsche gave me an appreciation for the term "fit and finish." I've never owned anything that was better made, except for perhaps a custom suit or a gun. And like a custom suit and a gun, the Boxter made me feel flashy and foolish at the same time. I enjoyed my time in Stuttgart's chick car, but it didn't fit me as well as my rebadged Mazda/Ranger pickup or the Ranchero. Rugged, ugly and unloved, these poor man's pickups were like an old catcher's mitt—not much to look at, but excellent for the job at hand.

If I could custom build my dream car with the best parts and features from all the vehicles in my previous stable, the window sticker would read like this:

• Ford Triton V-8
• Porsche Tiptronic 5-speed transmission
• Boxter buckskin leather interior
• Scion Xb passenger compartent engineering
• Impala sound deadening and suspension
• Mazda dealership sales and service
• Dodge Nitro 20-inch wheels and tires—50k miles and lots of life in those meats
• Mazda 6 Sportwagon's Bose MP3 6-disk stere0 system
• F-150 towing package and capacity

Early front runners in my 2010 cavalcade of cars include a Dodge Ramcharger 2-door SUV, a Ford Freestyle crossover wagon, a Volvo XC90 SUV or possibly a Dodge Magnum wagon. Whatever I choose will be used—no more new or leased vehicles for me… ever. I enjoy the prospect of shopping for new wheels, but I know hese hard times and my broad spectrum of possible whips won't make my search easy. All hail AutoTrader.com!



Green Laker said...

You need another yank tank - http://qualitycopcars.com/

Fashion Serial Killer with Glasses said...

get a honda.. you silly rabbit. Or a http://www.allpar.com/model/fury.html .. i'd def let you suck on some nipples if you had that.

WordLab said...

Where you obviously excel in variety and deep experience, I am a bastion of loyalty. Today I bought my next Subaru Outback, the third in a chain that I don't intend to break for at least 5 more years. It's black on black with blacked out windows, and I'm going to start wearing only black to complete the visual. I'm not sure why, but I'm stoked on my new gear hauler.