I will start by saying that I’ve never been a “car guy” and that the cars I’ve owned have never been anything other than a mode of transportation for me to get where I need to go. My apologies to any car people out there who will cringe reading about the four cars I’ve destroyed. But, at the same time, I’m not talking about a classic muscle car or anything.
Although it should be noted-as evidenced by the photo above-the cars I’ve owned are not necessarily distinguished models. A 2009 Versa is not a 1934 Pierce-Arrow Twelve Convertible Coupe.
For whatever reason, I have been fortunate to have driven only four cars in my 34 years. I like to drive them until they are only rickety shells of their former glory. It’s far more important to me for my car to “run” than it is for me to “drive a cool set of wheels, man.”
My father was the opposite. He sought to own vehicles that were an extension of his personality, which was different depending on his marriage status. After my parents divorced, he HAD to own a Porsche 911. He eventually rolled it six times on a highway leaving a bar one night, but he owned one. At one point, he also drove a big, black Ford truck because he probably needed to haul a bunch of heavy stuff, right? Nope. He was a jeweler.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun this week to reminisce about the cars I’ve owned and how they met their final demise. Do you have similar stories? What’s the worst way you’ve destroyed a vehicle?
1995 Chevrolet S-10
My first “car” was a teal green pick-up truck that I drove 45 minutes back and forth to my high school. It was rear-wheel drive, so anytime it rained (or, god forbid, snowed), I would get to spin wildly in loops while screaming. I was desperately into two things at the time, which I displayed proudly with colorful stickers on the cab window: Pink Floyd and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” How cool was I? I must have almost wrecked the thing 20 times. But even after I rear-ended an elderly woman at a red light-causing the front of the truck to look like it was upper-cut by a giant-the damn thing still worked fine, and my parents made me drive it. It was ugly and leaked a black substance, but I still drove it everywhere. My prom date refused to be seen in it. Eventually, I traded it for the car below. The dealer gave me $500 and told me he’d never seen anything like it. He probably hasn’t since.
2000 Nissan Sentra
I called her “The Grey Beast” because I didn’t know how to spell the color gray. My Sentra had about 50,000 miles on it when I got her, and she loved to jerk wildly into curbs and shake violently for no reason at all. Once, while on a trip to Orlando, one of my tires blew out near Kissimmee with a bunch of my friends inside. The alignment was off the entire drive down, so much that I had to fight to keep the car on the road. As soon as we returned-I spent way too much on a single tire because I didn’t have a choice-the beast seized up and stopped on Kirby Avenue near Highland Park in the rain. I left it there for an entire summer week until I could afford to have it towed. I also left a milkshake inside, which made the interior smell like an old coffin. She was broken into that week, too. Nothing was taken because there was nothing of value inside. and they couldn’t take the car. I left the cracked window for a year after that. She was traded for almost nothing.
2003 Toyota Matrix
In the four years I owned my 2003 bright red Toyota Matrix, I purchased three different sets of hubcaps before I finally gave up and left them off. It wouldn’t hold a hubcap. Every time I stopped at a light, I winced because I was used to having a hubcap roll ahead of me into the intersection. Here is a list of other things that went wrong with this car: catalytic converter, brake failure, catalytic converter, rodent infestation (rats), glove box jam, transmission, headlight failure, brake light failure, oxygen sensors and, finally, another catalytic converter. One co-worker told me they could always hear me coming because the car “buzzed loudly.” I once had a date tell me the car reminded her of a “giant, red roller skate,” and nobody got to make out that night. The Matrix is now used on our family farm as a way to transport small amounts of hay and vegetables from the garden to the barn.
2009 Nissan Versa
I’ll be lucky if I get another year out of my current car. I’m only sitting on about 90,000 miles, which is great for a 2009 model. However, the interior appears to be rejecting itself. Either that or the care is molting. I haven’t read the owner’s manual to see if these Nissan’s molt. The paneling inside is slowly starting to break loose and come apart. The gas tank cover flaps in the breeze and I can feel rain inside even when the windows are up. I was side-swiped on the way to a job interview in 2013, and it destroyed the right front, including the canister that holds windshield wiper fluid. But of all my gripes about this car, the one thing that really bugs me is that the driver’s side door handle fell off. How cheap does a car have to be that the door handle falls off? I drove my mom to dinner one night, and she seemed visibly scared to ride with me. “It’s making me nervous,” she said as a fine mist of hot interior rain came down. My next car might be a bicycle.
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