A couple of weeks ago my car made it past 200,000 miles. Although not the first car I've pushed this far, it's extra special because I put all the miles on myself save the first 35,000. The mileage crossed over at a very appropriate spot, right on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. For anyone outside the area, the Wilson Bridge crosses the Potomac River, connecting the commonwealth of Virginia and the state of Maryland. It's a very appropriate spot for me these days, since I cross the bridge every time I go back and forth to work on my 62 mile commute.
Right now I'm sporting a 1994 Mazda Protege. Not exactly a car that turns heads, but it's been the most reliable car I've ever had. It's taken me as far north as New York City, as far south as Memphis and as far west as Cleveland. The only times it's stranded me were times I should have known better----times when battery died when I knew it was getting old, for example. Although I plan on keeping this car going for at least another year, I am starting to think about what the next Heb-mobile will be. With thinking about the future, I of course think about the cars I used drive around town and what part they played in my lives. These pics, btw, are stock photos. Not the actual cars I owned.
My very first car was a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Three years older than me, it was bought new as my dad's car and he held onto it for me until I could drive. It was fast but heavy, making a strange combo that didn't turn very well but was still way too much fun to drive for any 16 year old. The car lasted me through high school, taking me on all kinds of camping trips, runs to 7-11 and lots of hours of cruising around with my friends Big Ed and Jimbo. But the summer between high school and college the brakes needed about $2k in repair work and my dad and I decided it just wasn't worth it to keep it going. We used to spend a lot of time together working on the engine even before I could drive it, so giving it up hurt more than just giving up a fun car. It was a big turning point in our relationship and we really don't spend time together like we did at those moments banging our knuckles and burning our fingers keeping that sucker going. If I ever get rich, my big F-U car will definitely be a restored Challenger.
My next car was cut from pretty much the same mold. A silver 1982 Camaro Berlinetta, it not only hauled ass but had the bonus of a T-top. One of my favorite things to do was take the T-top off in the middle of winter, blast the heat and drive really fast down deserted roads in the middle of nowhere. It took me through probably the most emotionally turbulent times of my life, which is probably why I spent so much time taking it into West Virginia and sleeping in it in random parking lots. But the day after graduation I carted my first car full of crap from Harrisonburg,Va. to Fairfax County, Va and got hit from behind at a stoplight by a 16 year old girl on a learner's permit driving a van by herself. It's amazing I didn't get hurt, because the van's front bumper ended up on top of the back seat----I remember reaching back behind me in a bit of a daze, and touching the bumper while still sitting in my front seat. Needless to say, the poor things was totaled. I went almost four years without a car, until I got my current set of wheels.
What do these cars say about me? I have no idea, but I'm sure there's a pattern. As I think about the next car part of me craves something that just soars down the road but eats gas like the new Dodge Challengers, or something more practical that gets really good gas mileage. I guess I need something that just says, "Hey, that guy's a librarian...he likes to read and write, but still manages to have fun." I don't know what it will be, but when I see it I will know it right away.