I have always been into cars since I was a child. I watched a lot of television as a kid and fell in love with several cars that, to me, where the main characters of the show. The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, Automan, Street Hawk, Smokey and the Bandit and other shows/movies all had vehicles that I really admired and still do to this day. Cars are a big part of our lives and we spend hours in them every single week. Why not make them the best they can be and maintain them to a high level? If you factor in how much you can save in labor over the lifetime of the car and the value that it will retain when it comes time to sell it on, you can easily see what drives me in my quest. It is pretty rare that you will see my driving my “fun car,” whatever it may be, without a fresh detail job. It’s just a part of who I am.
TIMELINE OF CARS I HAVE OWNED
1979 Chevrolet Chevette (1988-1991)
My first car was purchased for me by awesome dad when I was 15 years old. I found a 1979 Chevette for sale a block away from our house that had 31,000 miles on it and was in very good condition. We bought the car for $1500 dollars and this car began my foray into auto care and maintenance. I probably washed and waxed the car at least every week and I was always looking to improve and maintain the car to the best of my limited ability at the time. These cars weren’t known for reliability so I did spend a lot of time with my dad replacing different parts thus learning a lot on the way. I eventually put mag wheels on the car which gave it a really cool raked look, at least as cool as a Chevette can be.
1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS (1991-1992)
My next car was purchased by me in 1991. I wanted to establish some credit now that I was in college and I had always liked the G-Body cars (as you will quickly see below). I ended up buying a really nice 1985 Monte Carlo which was white and had a perfect burgundy interior. It was powered by a 4.3 liter V6 which gave a young kid a nice balance between smooth power and gas mileage. Just like the Chevette, I spent a lot of time maintaining the car and managing my own repairs since I didn’t have a lot of money. At the time, an $83/month car payment was a lot.
1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS (1992-1995)
I really liked my 1985 Monte Carlo but had always been an admirer of its big brother, the Monte Carlo SS. A began looking around in the inkies and finally came upon an ad that read, “1986 Monte Carlo SS, white, T-tops, mint condition.” I had dreamed of owning an SS since I was a youngster in the 80’s, so I decided to go take a look and see what this car was going for. When I arrived at the guy’s house and saw the car, I was instantly in love with the thing. It was painted an arctic white and had gray 1987 decals on the body. It was in good condition inside and out and had been serviced very regularly. At this point, I was out of high school and in my sophomore year in college, so I figured I could treat myself to my affordable dream car of the moment. I drove the car home that evening and I owned it up until I spotted my next ride nestled calmly in the lot of a small town dealership.
1986 Buick Regal T-Type (1995-1996)
This brings us to my next vehicle, a 1986 Buick Regal T-Type. I actually stumbled upon this car quite by accident. I was driving by a local dealer when I spied a GMC Syclone that looked very sharp. Nestled in between the truck and a 1971 Monte Carlo was a dark gray Regal T-Type. I had heard some things about these cars, but I didn’t know how brutal they actually were. I looked at the truck briefly, but I was more intrigued by the Regal. While the salesmen eyed my SS like buzzards, I looked the car over really good and decided that it was well worth a test drive. Boy was I in for it! This was like no car I had ever driven before.
The T-Type had the characteristics of a stout big block while maintaining the look and mannerisms of a “normal” car. At first they wanted too much for it so I decided to wait it out since I live in a fairly small town and I didn’t think anyone would pay a lot for this car unless they actually knew what it was. I waited … and waited … and the car sat from May 1995 to October 1995. I knew they wouldn’t sell it before winter so I just stopped in and offered them a ridiculous price, at least to me. They took it and I drove the car home the next day, October 7, 1995. I snapped the picture above a week later after I went through the car with a fine tooth comb.
1996 Ford Lightning (1996-1997)
My next vehicle was a 1993 Ford F-150 Lightning, purchased 2/24/97. I was interested in this truck because this was really the beginning of the performance truck era. I liked the GMC Syclone but at the time it was a little out of my reach financially. The Lighting was was quite a nice truck and I enjoyed the power (a lot for the time) and the nicely designed interior. It was pretty much the best handling truck of its time and set the stage for performance trucks to come. The Lightning was a good truck, but I ended up selling it to my dad in November of 1997 because the payments were a lot for me and the gas mileage was not good for my meager earnings. It just wasn’t going to make a good vehicle for me since it wasn’t able to be a year round driver. I will always have fond memories of this truck especially for the handling capabilities, which trucks of the era certainly weren’t known for.
1995 Ford Mustang GT-S (1996-1997)
In trying to pacify my need for speed, I purchased a 1995 Mustang GTS from a dealer in my hometown. In 1995, Ford manufactured Mustang GTS cars, which was basically a Mustang GT with an option package that deleted the fog lights, rear wing, power options and leather interior. Option 248a could be slightly customized, but for the most part they appeared as described. The car was fast enough, but that was probably due to the fact that it had been over two years since I had driven a “real” fast car, that being my old T-Type. I ended up selling the car one year later to rid myself of the high payments and high insurance. It just didn’t end up being the car for me at the time. I still do like Mustangs, which is odd for a Buick lover to say. What really turned me off about the car was the money I would have to spend to make it as fast as a stock F-body. With the release of the LS1 V-8, I knew it was time to get back to a car that could hang with them right out of the box. My return to the Turbo Regal camp began when I sold the Mustang on March 13, 1998.
You will notice that my car turnover will begin to slow down at this point. From 2004 to 2015 I owned the Tundra, Cobra and Regal shown below. That’s quite a stretch of consistency.
1987 Buick Regal Turbo T (July 1998 – Nov 2015)
I purchased this 1987 Turbo Regal in July 1998 from an owner in Canada. The car had 40,300 miles on it when I brought it home in July 1998. It was a great car from the ground up and needed absolutely nothing. It was repainted in 1998 in the original color, which was garnet red metallic. I kept it looking mint through the 17 years I owned it by regularly waxing and caring for the paint. It had never been rained on in the entire time I owned it.
The Buick was not a daily driver and it spent most days under cover in my garage. I usually only drove it when there was a zero percent chance of rain on the weekends. The car was really great because it is pretty non-descript. Other drivers have to really know what they are looking at to tell it from just any other G-body car. This car certainly got a ton of looks and compliments.
UPDATE: Nov 2015
I finally decided to part with the car after owning it for 17 years. It was a great car but it was costing me $100 a month to store it and it needed to go to a new home that would take care of it and enjoy it more than me. It needed some TLC with the oil and exhaust leaks and the rear end needed changing to a working positraction. I loved this car and hated selling it but at least I know the new owner, Jeff, will take care of it! Good luck, Jeff. My main reason for selling was to recoup some money to possibly get a new car in the future and perform some home improvements that I was needing.
A gallery and specs on this car are still available here.
1996 Ford Mustang Cobra (June 2002 – July 2018)
I bought this car because I had owned one before and really enjoyed it as a nice powerful five speed car. There is just something about a powerful stick shift that I like. This car gets driven on nice days and is always stored in the winter time since I have the Tundra to take over those duties. I try to keep this car shining bright and running smartly for the best of both worlds. It sees regular scheduled maintenance and is never lacking in any department. The added XM radio also makes it a fun ride since I can listen to Hair Nation on the stock Mach 460 sound system. The car remains mostly stock and that’s the way I like it.
Update: July 2018
This car now resides in New York. I decided to part with it to simplify life and have a daily driver and one “fun” car. At some point you have owned something long enough and it is time to move on. I will miss owning a Mustang but this certainly won’t close the door on owning a newer one again someday. This money is now in savings and waiting for another car to surface.
A gallery and specs on this car are still available here.
2004 Toyota Tundra 4×4 (June 2004 – July 2016)
I owned this truck for 12 years and it was the first vehicle I ever purchased new off of the lot. I bought an extended warranty and the truck was only in the shop one time in its life for a steering rack at 92,000 miles. This vehicle pretty much sold me on Toyotas because of the durability, dependability and resale value.
I got a bit tired of the gas mileage so I decided to trade it in on a 2016 Toyota Rav4 SE since the trade in value was so high. I am sure I will miss this truck as the days roll by because it was certainly a great one. I just needed something better on gas and better for traveling since the truck was so bad on gas. I will admit that I have missed this truck a lot but you just can’t have it all.
I believe that this truck is in the Mason City / Clear Lake area since my dad says he has seen it from time to time.
2016 Toyota Rav 4 SE (July 2016 – Present)
In 2016 I took a job that required a 25 mile morning commute so I needed something that got good gas mileage and still gave some level of utility. I looked around and finally decided on another Toyota product since my truck had been so good to me over its lifetime. I ended up deciding on a Toyota Rav 4 SE AWD because it had a sportier suspension and all of the options I was interested in. I received a good amount for my truck so I splurged a little and got the SE. The difference in ride quality and interior between the XL and the SE was like night and day. It has been though 3 winters now and it has never gotten stuck or left me stranded anywhere, so that is a definite plus in my book.
I have admittedly missed my truck several times over the past few years but you can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. My dad has a truck I can use if I ever need to. This Rav has been great so far because it is perfect for trips and hauling small things when needed. I will keep this as an extra car when it hits 100k and I decide to get something new again.
2001 Honda S2000 (May 2018 – Present)
I have wanted one of these since the year 2000 when I had the opportunity to drive an example owned by a friend of mine. The handling and performance of this car really stood out and it was quite a visceral experience being one with the road. I decided in early 2018 that it was time to make a change in the garage and move on from the Mustang Cobra that I had owned since 2002. As my friend Nate put it, sometimes you have just owned something long enough… I searched around and found a very nice example in St. Paul, MN so I drove up there and bought it on the spot after giving it a once over and test driving it. I have to say that this past 2018 summer was some of the best driving I have had in years. Not that the Cobra wasn’t fun, but having the top down on a summer night while navigating twisty roads is an experience. The handling on this car in stock form is quite intoxicating.
A gallery and specs on this car are available here.
Other vehicles I have owned:
- 1987 Monte Carlo SS (silver) – traded the 1986 T-Type for it and regretted it. Sold after one summer to a guy in Wisconsin.
- 1987 Buick Grand National (black) – transmission blew the first day I had it. Fixed and sold three months later. I owned this car between the 1995 Mustang GT and the 1987 Turbo T. I sold it to pay for the Turbo T.
- 1996 Ford Mustang Mystic Cobra – nice car, but I was worried about getting dings on an insanely expensive factory finish. Owned at the same time I owned my Turbo T.
- 1989 Suzuki Katana 600 – my first and last bike. I rode it for a summer in 1999, but realized it was too dangerous and people just didn’t see me on the road. I sold this to help put a down payment on my first house in 1999.