The topic we were asked to write on today was cars, and for me, that is highly appropriate as I am a car guy. In the sixty-seven years I have been driving, I have owned thirty-one cars and trucks. So it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if I crawled through my past expenses and found that my most significant expenditure after my houses were my vehicles with their upkeep and maintenance.
I had a lot of fun reminiscing along with my wife and listing all that I have owned. I clearly have not been a strict made in the USA person as I bought an almost even split between foreign and domestic vehicles, with fifteen being domestic and sixteen foreign.
It seems I am not a stickler on buying only new cars as although seventeen I have bought were new, I have bought thirteen of them used. And I also apparently don’t have a firm viewpoint about choosing four-door over two-door vehicles as fourteen of my vehicles were four-door and sixteen two-door.
As I reviewed the list, it is clear I am also not hung up in type as I have owned seven sports cars, of which five were convertibles. In addition, I’ve owned three station wagons, five SUVs, two pickup trucks, a Volkswagen camper, and a Studebaker Avanti show car. The only thing missing is an electric vehicle, and I plan to remedy that soon.
Of all the cars I have owned, only four were disappointing. The first two were the Renaults I bought after leaving the Marine Corps, as their three-speed manual transmissions and small engines really sucked when driving in the hills.
The third was the 1976 Plymouth Volare station wagon I bought new based on MotorTrend Magazine’s recommendation. What a piece of crap! There were almost thirty items on our list that we brought to the dealer that wasn’t working correctly, and at the end of the three-year warranty period, nine had never been fixed.
The last pile of junk was the 1995 fully loaded Ford Explorer that we bought when we moved from Florida to Colorado. Unfortunately, its six-cylinder engine was so underpowered that we rarely got out of the truck lane when driving over mountain passes. Also, if you were in four-wheel drive with the steering wheel turned off-center when backing up, you ripped the front CV joint boots, which became rather expensive to replace after the warranty period.
So, which cars were my favorite? Clearly, I enjoyed my sportscars, especially the two Porches I owned, the 1974 914-6 and my 1988 944 Turbo. And, although it is not a sportscar, I enjoyed my 2001 Jeep CJ 5 a lot. Also, I must not forget my gold 1963 Studebaker Avanti that I restored and showed successfully in many local and national car events.
My family’s favorite would undoubtedly be the 1971 Volkwagen Pop-Top Camper. For seven years, whether we were living in Houston or later Lighthouse Point, Florida, we made a two-week family vacation sojourn to Colorado every summer. We would first head to Aurora, Colorado, where my wife’s parents lived for a few days of altitude acclimation, then up to Longs Peak Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park for a week of camping.
If you ask my two children what they most fondly remember while growing up, it surely would be those camping trips.
As I look back, I wish I had kept a few cars I owned as their current value has skyrocketed. For example, my used 1954 MG TF, which cost me $2200 in 1957, is now worth $19,000. My 1974 Porsche 914-6, which I bought used in 1978 for $2500, is now worth almost $80,000, and that gorgeous 1963 Studebaker Avanti I purchased used in 1977 for $6500 would now bring at least $60,000 at auction.
And less I forget, that 1957 Supercharged Thunderbird I bought in 1959 for $3100 as I was about to enter Annapolis would now go at auction for the staggering amount of about $90,000.
As to where I got $3100 to buy a car while in the Marine Corps and only making $128/month, that is a totally different story, maybe not suited for mixed company.
So, what’s next? I am sure at least one electric vehicle is in my future, but maybe no more cars and just UBER after that.