Gremlin Bumble bee yellow with black racing stripes;
three on the floor, and a relentlessly cheap black vinyl interior. There was a "Desert only" position on the A/C thermostat,
and shifting into first gear was impossible unless the car was dead
Purchased new from
an American Motors dealer on Kirby Drive for list price, $2195--about a
dollar a pound. I took this car to Kansas for my senior year at
Bethany. It was never the same after Jimmy
Zawadski, Steve "William Bendix" Berke, and I drove it 24
hours nonstop, Lindsborg to New Jersey, for Christmas 1972
in a sort of one car Cannonball Run.
Toyota Celica GT A green
coupe with a tan interior, 18RC engine--a great car, and a huge step up from car #1.
Cost, fully loaded, from Palm Center Toyota on
Griggs Road in Houston:
about $4000. On the day I took delivery I drove it for a couple
around Loop 610 marveling at how solid it felt, especially in turns. I will never again be as moved by a new
car as I was by this one at age 22. I actually made the effort to
learn how to give this car tuneups--plugs, timing, points adjustment, the
whole deal. It proved very reliable. I'd probably still have it if the headliner hadn't come
unglued around 1985. I see '74 and '75 Celicas on the road to
Honda Accord Metallic blue, four speed hatchback. The hatch squeaked
and the steering was unpowered, and I really wanted an automatic but was
talked out of it at the dealership to save a few bucks, so this car got on my bad side,
right from the get-go. My salesman at
Bill McDavid Honda near Gulfgate was Mike Murray, the son of Pastor
Jack Murray, my father's co-pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church on Wheeler
Avenue. Jack's wife Miriam was a Swede from Lindsborg.
1981 Toyota Corolla Wagon
engine made an almost imperceptible tapping
sound when I bought it, and the sound got louder every day. Within
it was a hammering. "Don't buy a car used," my mother told me. "You're just buying someone else's problem." She was right,
at least in this case.
1982 Datsun Maxima My first
"loaded" car, the Maxima had an automatic transmission, power windows
and door locks,
plush seats, and so on. If something went wrong, it told you, in an
urgent female voice:
"Parking brake...(pause)...is on." "Fuel level...(pause)...is low."
"Left door...(pause)... is open." (Seven messages total.
This feature was laughed out of the market, but it actually worked quite
well.) The Maxima had a diesel engine. I learned that when you really need one, a
gas station that sells diesel can be hard to find. Cost, maybe $12,000? Can't
really remember. I bought this at a dealership on the south side of Westheimer
just past the Galleria.
1985 Nissan Pickup
This coppery-orange long bed compact truck was bit tinny but at
a low, low $7500 new, it got the job done. The dealer was on I-45, near
North Shepherd. I'm not sure about the date, but I do know it was the first year
Nissan pickups said Nissan rather than Datsun on the tailgate.
1987 Acura Integra
I bet this
silver hatchback is still on the road somewhere in the Bay Area. $13,000 something from an Acura dealer on I-10 not far
from the Bear Creek Golf Course. The driver's seat was a bit
uncomfortable. Once driven at a fairly high rate of speed into the side of a hill
on Highway 9 just south of Felton by yours truly.
1989 Toyota Supra In-line turbocharged six;
black with tan leather. Probably the fastest car on this list (it's
between this one and #10). Automatic. I bought this car from Santa Cruz Toyota for $26,000 when they were still downtown on Laurel
St. I had hoped Liz would be more impressed by this car than she
actually was. Sigh.
1991 Honda Accord I
should have kept this more-than-adequate black sedan; I would have saved many thousands of dollars over the
next few years. Although perhaps it says something about this car that I
don't remember much about it. I bought
it from Stevens Creek Honda for about 15 grand, and they threw in a free
tank of gas.
1993 Lexus SC-300 $40,000 worth of jet black,
gold-kit trimmed, tan leather driving style. Arthur and I invented the heater
game in this car*. Sacrificed after six months to buy vehicle #11. I wish I'd bought the automatic.
Stevens Creek Lexus.
Fleetwood Jamboree I purchased this year-old Class C
motor home from a nice couple in Mountain View
rages at the car history department of www.charlieanderson.com: Is the
Jamboree a car or not? Close enough; it had tires, a motor, and a steering wheel.
(On the other hand, it had a queen-sized bed, a water heater, and a toilet.)
1991 Ford Festiva
Not Fiesta, Fes-ti-va. A
Idaho mechanic once asked me, "Where's the other half?" But this
Kia-built hatchback is
still on the road today, unlike the rusty pickup the mechanic undoubtedly
drove to work that July day in 1993. 45 MPGtry doing that with a whole
car! Towed for 20,000 miles by Vehicle #11, above. Bought used
from a Saturn dealer in Spokane, Washington in August, 1993 for $4500.
No A/C, no radio even, if you can believe that.
BMW 318 $26,000 at Stevens Creek BMW. A
very nice car,
a great handling car, but jinxed. It kept getting into wrecks, even when parked.
What a great fuse box it had.
1999 Honda Accord
My current ride
is the pick of the Accords on this list, with leather, power everything, and a V6.
Someday I'll remember this car for the 60,000 miles I've put on it in a little over two years doing a
near-daily commute to San Mateo. $24,500
from Ocean Chevrolet-Honda at the Capitola Auto Mall. It's a light
metalic tan ("Heather Mist"), a great
color for not showing dirt. Except for a
driver's seat that can get uncomfortable after an hour behind the wheel, I
This list does not
include wife, parent, or company cars.
Every car on this
list except for #12 had air conditioning.
a hot, sunny day, roll up the windows and turn the heater on full blast.
First one to say uncle loses.
POS "Piece of
Shit." Denotes an automobile with
which I had a generally bad experience; a car I wish I hadn't bought
OOG Out of Gas.
I ran out at least once in this car.
Major body work was required at least once.