I’ve been thinking about the cars of yonder year lately. Now that I have a son, and although he’s currently only two years old, I find myself thinking about teaching him about cars. His second word was “Car” after all. I’m thinking about buying an older car, preferably a classic, and restoring it with him. Teaching him mechanics, body work, anything I can pass on to him. Today’s cars are all about computers & tech which makes it nearly impossible for the average Joe to work on his own car. Think about it, in two years Volvo is claiming to have driverless cars ready for the public market. Google has logged somewhere around 1 million miles nationwide in driverless cars. In ten years it will possibly be as easy as getting in your car, or calling it to come pick you up with your smart phone, imputing your destination, and sitting back and doing, well, what ever you feel like doing on the way. You wont need to pay attention to the road any more, so that travel time could be spent in all manner of activities.
Which inevitably got me thinking about my first cars and the vehicles I’ve had since. So I decided to share with you the cars that got me around early on in life. Hope you enjoy.
My first car (technically speaking) was actually given to me by my father. It was a 1986 Mercury Capri. I could be wrong about the year but it was right about that era. Going back thru old photos I couldn’t find one of this car, so I had to rely on Google to get some stock photos for you. My Capri was also black in color with grey interior. It had a rod knock so loud that it sounded like a small diesel motor. It was a 4 cylinder, unlike the above picture, with a 4 speed auto. This is actually closer to my car. Mine had the “Bubble” rear hatch. When I got the car, it had expired Pennsylvania plates on it that were registered to an old Dodge van that was, at the time, sitting in North Carolina. This, with it’s rod knock, earned it the name “Black Beauty.” But this car always started & got me where I wanted for the first year of my driving career. I never changed the oil, or got it legal for that matter. I drove it like this for a year. I was a typical dumb 16 year old that didn’t really appreciate the fact that someone cared enough to give me a car. I was living in Southern California in a town called Temecula at the time. When I was 17, I decided to visit some old friends in Florida, & after 2 weeks, decided to move back there for a while. I told my younger brother that he could have ‘Ol Black Beauty as long has he got it legal.
He agreed. Not long after this, my brother and a friend were “Semi-Off Roading” in it and got it stuck. The next morning when they came back with a tow truck, someone had relieved the car of it’s wheels and tires. The they decided to have it towed to a friend of Mom’s and there the car sat on it’s belly blocking the driveway. Mom gave my brother a set amount of time to remedy this situation, which he failed to do (another stupid 16 year old) so Mom ended up selling the car to a salvage yard, for what I remember being about $200. And so ends the tale of Black Beauty.
I ended up staying in Florida for about a year. When I came back to Temecula, I needed a car again. So I saved up for about 9 months and bought what I actually consider my first Car. Coincidentally, it was another Mercury. I bought a 1968 Mercury Cougar from an old lady in Ontario California for $1,300 cash. It needed some body work & paint. The headliner was missing, but otherwise the interior was in good shape. It was the original color. What I called “Avocado Green” with the original black Landau top & black interior. As you can see from this old Polaroid, it was deemed “Booger”. She wasn’t much to look at, I admit. But the old lady had recently had the transmission rebuilt and someone had talked her into buying 4 ft cherry bomb pipes, (bless their heart) you could hear her from almost a 1/4 mile away. She had a 289 V8 in her that would break the tires loose in second gear with a 3 speed auto on the floor. This was the car that I learned mechanics & body work on. You can see in the above picture, that I had already started the body work with the primer on the right fender. I couldn’t find any other early pics of Booger through it’s many stages of repair and restoration. I wish I did because there was a few months before paint, that she was quite a site. This is also the start of my career in the automotive world. I’m partial to blue’s. So after perusing thru multiple paint chip books, I settled on a Mitsubishi color named Fuji Metallic Blue. It took about a year of working on days off and some weekends, but she finally came together.Out of all the cars I’ve had, this is the car I miss the most. She had her quirks. My favorite being the fact that at the time, and remember, this was before the internet (gasp), but the driver door window regulator was broken, & I couldn’t locate one for the life of me. This was even calling yards all over the country. No Deal. So I eventually settled for taking the door trim panel off, & taking a pair of channel lock pliers that I picked up and a garage sale for a buck, shoving the regulator up as far as it would go and clamping it in place & rebuilding the door. Problem solved, right? Sure was! Except for when I wanted to go thru a drive thru. Then I’d reverse into the drive thru to have my passenger order, or I would lean across myself. Needless to say I got some strange looks. But, Man I miss that car! Another cool feature was the sequential rear turn signals that still worked! Ford brought this back recently on the newer Mustangs. But they were an original feature on the old Cougar’s.
Booger never did get renamed. By the time I had the car finished, the name had unfortunately stuck. (No pun intended) After a few years, I sold her to a friend who had her for a couple years. He in turn met a foreign guy at a gas station that just had to have her. The story, as I was told, this guy bought the car, drove it to the Long Beach Pier, and freighted it over to Europe some where. I often wonder where she ended up and what kind of shape she’s in today.After Booger was gone, I got my first New car & my first taste of the Honda world. I bought a 1995 Honda Civic Coupe EX. I managed to find 1 single solitary picture of this car. We had a habit of naming our cars back then, but I can’t for the life of me remember this ones name. If it even had one.Those wheels were totally cool back then. So shut it. I enjoyed this car quite a bit. But the payments were killing me with the California insurance rates for a single guy under 25. So I sold it after a couple years and went Old School again. Buying it off of a friend that didn’t want her anymore. Enter, Omega Red.
Omega Red was a 1984 Honda Civic Hatch Back with a 5- Speed Manual. It was a total heap. But like most Honda’s, it always started and ran. Once again, Relying on Google for a stock pic, as I only owned her for less than a year. She wouldn’t pass smog & frankly wasn’t worth the money to get her legal. I ended up selling her to the service manager at Honda Cars of Corona for next to nothing. A new chapter in life was starting.
I was starting my first business in my early 20’s and needed a truck. So I found a 1995 Toyota Extra Cab Pick Up 4 Cyl with a 5 speed manual 2WD with only 13,000 on her. She was perfect. Or, almost perfect. I needed something with a little more POP. Since I was doing work on used car lots, I wanted my vehicle to stand out. So back to the shop I went. Going on days off & weekends when I could. It took quite a bit of work, but I thought it paid off. I wish I had a pic of the interior. I took the dash apart & sanded down the hard textured plastic around the instrument cluster and painted it white pearl with a dash of blue pearl. When the sun came in thru the window, it was spectacular. My cousin invented the color. He calleld it “Yoshi Blue”, based on an old nickname of mine. I got compliments all the time and offers of money for the paint code. But only my cousin knows the recipe. Under florescent lights, it’s screaming electric purple. If I ever get a chance to own an NSX, & she needs paint, I’ll be contacting my cousin & try to get him to recreate this color. I did vehicle interior reconditioning for used car lots. Some of the managers were impressed with my repairs and started joking that I had super powers, which led to the nickname of Superman. I would get pages (yes, this was also the era of pagers) and when I’d return the call I’d be asked “Is this the Superman Guy that does interiors?” Apperantly my managers couldn’t remember my actual name, so when asked, would give out Superman instead. So, I went with it. After all, there’s far worse nicknames to be had out there, right? So the truck became known as “The Super Sled”.Last shot of the truck was when I was working in San Fransisco after I had hung up the reconditioning apron and got into construction. I was standing on scaffolding on a building we were wrapping for resurfacing. I had the truck for 6 or 7 years. I also miss this truck very much. It had about 195,000 miles on it when I finally sold it to my cousin Jay in PA. I simply just didn’t need it anymore. Because I had already bought another car. My second new car in fact.
My first Acura!While I was living outside Philly, PA, I bought a new 2002 Acura TL Type S w/NAV in pearl white. I LOVED this car! This is another stock photo pulled from online. I only had the car for about a year and a half, so it never had the chance to earn a nickname. Two weeks before moving back to California, Some one not paying attention, rear ended me pretty hard. I was talking to my Mom on my cell phone at the time of the accident. If you ever want to freak out you Mother, interrupt her mid sentence and tell her you just got in a car accident and have to go. Then hang up. Haha, she was not too happy about that when we spoke later.
So I towed the TL cross country behind a Penske truck back to California. It cost over $8,000 to repair all the damage. I drove it for a little while after that. One morning it was not where it was supposed to be. Two days later, they found it in Tijuana, Mexico. She wasn’t beat up or stripped down too bad. But after fixing her again, I decided to say good bye and sold her to a used car lot, which in turn sold her to a car dealer in San Fransisco.
At this point I was looking for something that would get me around and I didn’t really care much about. There was this little 2002 Toyota Echo Coupe in the back lot of my uncles shop that had been there for a couple years. It was a total loss that was hammered in the back. Much like the TL had been. The insurance company abandoned it rather than paying for the tow bill and storage. So I paid my uncle for these two items & started getting parts together. I paid a tech to do some of the repairs & some I did myself. I didn’t own this one long either, but we called her “The Babe Magnet” Here’s a stock pic from online. Just check out that sweet interior! gag!I drove this turd for about a year. I never did get it registered in my name. I ended up selling it to my bodyman Dan. I’m sure he drove it for a little while then turned around and sold it to some desperado. It was scary as crap at freeway speeds to drive, but man it was good on gas!
It was about this time that I was engaged and would be married soon. I decided to get my bride something nice as a wedding gift. So I bought her the 2005 Acura TSX w/NAV that is featured in this blog. A little while ago I actually found the original sales contract for the car neatly tucked into the back pocket of the right front seat back. Check it out! On 12/29/2004 with only 5 miles on the odometer, I drove the TSX off the dealer lot & down to Temecula where Josie was living at the time. I gave her the keys, told her I’d see her tomorrow and drove her crappy 1996 Toyota Tacoma home. We were married a couple days later on New Years Day 2005. If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you already know that Josie put about 13,000 miles on it before we moved to the Boise, ID area and I kinda took the car back and have since put another 428,000 miles on it and counting…You’ll also know that about a year and a half ago I made up for this and bought her a 2014 Acura RDX AWD w/Tech Pkg. She currently has about 19,000 miles on it already!So that puts me at Three new Acura’s so far. Love the brand! My next car will likely be the new TLX. When? Not sure yet. I’m guessing somewhere around next Spring – Summer I’ll be rolling 500,000 miles on the TSX. Now whether or not I’ll celebrate by treating myself to a new TLX or continue to drive the TSX is yet to be seen. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I would love to get a mid – late 90’s Acura NSX. I was a 19 year old kid working at Norm Reeves Acura in Temecula California when they first hit the dealers. I would say I had the opportunity to drive a few of these cars, but to be honest, it was more of a privilege to drive the NSX. I always told myself that one day I would own one. But now I’m 40 years old with a 2 year old son, & I just can’t justify the expense. Maybe in 10 years for midlife crisis? As much as I love the new NSX, it’s way out of my league financially speaking. So I’ll continue to daydream about my 90’s NSX. I have lots of time behind the wheel to do so.