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Automotive Upbringing

May 7, 2010

Kyality recently posted a list of all the vehicles his family drove from the time he was born until he went to college. It’s a great post, and while his list is far more interesting and eclectic than my own, I thought it’d be interesting to offer up a record of my own automotive upbringing.

1978 (?) Mazda GLC

I have no memory of this car, but apparently it got foisted off on my brothers when they started driving.

1980 Honda Accord

I have no memory of this car, either. But it’s an Accord, so I guess that’s normal.

1982 (?) Nissan 280ZX (silver)

This is the first family car that I remember, but even then it’s just as glimpses of it parked in our driveway in Knoxville.

Chrysler 5th Avenue (black…I think)

Sometime in the early 80s, my dad decided to get a respectable car, which I guess the 5th Avenue was at the time. The only thing I remember about this car is getting fussed at for pulling on the column shifter while the car was moving, but family accounts have forever branded the car “Bambi” for its complete fail at driving on ice.

1986 Nissan 300ZX (red)

The first family car that’s seared into my memory, but hey, it was a red Z with t-tops and a cool digital speedo, so obviously it’d work its way into a 6-year old’s consciousness. It also talked to you from time to time, letting you know if a door was open and such (“the passenger door is ajar…”), and considering that this was right around the time that Knight Rider was on the air, well, it made it pretty much the coolest car ever.

1986 Jaguar XJ6 (British racing green)

I guess this is where the British thing started. I honestly don’t remember much about it, except that it was green with a tan leather interior. Oh, and that I threw up in it once after I got a concussion.

1989 Jaguar XJ12 (red)

My dad followed up one red sports car with another. Personally, I’ve always had a weaker spot for the Z, but the Jag was still pretty damn cool. It was also British, so it’s kind of impossible for me to separate my memories of it from memories of a mechanic making house calls to fix pretty much all the time.

1988 Land Rover Range Rover (red)

The ’88 Range Rover existed in simpler times, when a “luxury” SUV basically meant leather seats and power windows. Actually, it existed before SUV had come into common usage. When my parents were shopping around, it wasn’t for an SUV, but for a Jeep. And I distinctly remember them cross-shopping a Ford Bronco II, which really tells you a lot about how ridiculously upmarket the Range Rover has gone over the past twenty-ish years.

1991 Land Rover Range Rover (black)

In 1991, my mom upgraded to a new Range Rover with the “new” 3.9L V8. I use the term loosely because the 3.9 was based on an Oldsmobile (or was it Buick…and is there any difference, really?) engine designed by Noah back after the flood. But if offered a significant boost in power, which was good, because the newer Range Rovers could now outrun steamrollers and coastal erosion.

Aside from the engine, the ’91 Rover was pretty similar to the ’88. That is to say, it was British and made no sense. For instance, the window controls were layed out on the center console in such a way as to make no intuitive sense, though if you messed with them all at once you could sometimes accidentally remap them. Then there was what I’ll call the “Oh No!” handle, which was basically this random handle on the passenger side of the dash. This was the era before airbags, so I guess it was there to hold on to so you wouldn’t die. At least, that’s what we always used it for.

A few years later, this Range Rover actually ended up becoming my first car, and played a pretty major role in shaping my automotive tendencies, but that’s another post for another time.

1991 Mercedes SL500 (black)

It was nice. It was black. It had this removable hardtop that had to be stored in the garage. Unlike the Jag, everything worked most of the time. Overall it was a pretty awesome car, and the last Mercedes I’ve actually liked.

1994 Land Rover Range Rover SE (silver)

Around the time I inherited the ’91 Range Rover, my mom upgraded to one of the new second-generation Rovers. It was certainly nicer…the first step on the way to the ridiculously high-end Range Rover of today. And I never quite warmed to it. The better interior, the trick suspension and other new touches seemed to somehow disconnect the Range Rover from what it was, and I guess this dissatisfaction may be where my love of cars that are a bit rough around the edges came from.

So there we have it, that’s the list. What does it say about my various automotive interests and fixations? In some ways, not much, but in others, quite a bit. I mean, I think it’s pretty clear where the whole weak spot for British cars came from. And, to an extent, the offroading. And, more or less, my parents have always tended to own relatively interesting vehicles, so that whole idea of buying a car for more than purely functional transportation was probably at work, but I still have to think my interest in cars is also more than the sum of my automotive upbringing.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2010 3:01 pm

    Great post and awesome list. It’s pretty interesting to analyze how our tastes are developed. LOVE the Mazda hatchback ad: “It’s a Great Little Car.” Quite the headline! Thank goodness for parents who primarily had great taste when it comes to their vehicles.

  2. Kay McDougall permalink
    May 7, 2010 5:50 pm

    The Mazda GLC came after the Accord. It wasn’t the hatchback version, but a 4 door. And it was tan. Boring.

  3. Tim permalink
    May 20, 2010 7:09 am

    Yes, it was a beige four-door, with … beige interiors. I had to share it with J.B. for a year when I was a senior in high school. He apparently loved going through the drive-thru for breakfast with his friends, getting extra jellies, and then having jelly fights in the car. This is absolutely true and as disgusting as you imagine. My high school dating life was poor to begin with, but having a rare date actually stick to her seat didn’t help. I later inherited the car as a sophomore in college, drove it for four more years, and finally sold the 10-year old GLC for $500, about $100 over Blue Book.

    One cool piece about that car, though — the back middle seat (the hump) actually pulled out so you could access the trunk from inside the car. Not terribly useful, although one time I had a friend hide back there and pop out while driving around other friends. I think they wet their pants screaming. Good times.

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