1988 Honda Civic - BUD COM
Bought it in 1998 for $2900 from an ad in the Classified Flea Market. The owner was a young womkan in San Leandro who told us a most alarming story after I noticed that the car stereo was not factory standard.
"My ex-boyfriend put that in."
He was an "ex" because he'd been an innocent victim of a firefight at the restaurant where he was working. Because of a gunshot wound, he lost use of his legs and was confined to a wheelchair. Her family, who had loved this young man, encouraged her to break off the engagement and find herself another man - who wants to be married to a cripple? She was in tears and Amy and I were quite shocked.
The car ran exceptionally well. It took some repairs, but the little Honda engine kept the little blue Honda running past 180,000 miles. I did have to pay extensively to reduce the pollution levels of the car to California standards.
I had a vanity license plate installed - "BUD COM" - if you're going to be in traffic, you might as well advertise.
After 180,000 miles in April 2001 the car ded. I bought a new engine in June 2001.
It's a bit too small for me, I mean my knees are in my chest if I sit up properly, and my head grazes the ceiling. One of the knobs has come off my third stereo in this thing, so I'm using a wooden bead from my old exploded beaded seat cushion. The trunk leaks.
But the longer I have it, the more gratified I am when I return from Japan or travels and the thing finally comes back to life as I know how to coax it with patience and jumper cables. I can still drive it to Los Angeles and back, not in comfort, but at least in some small faith. That and membership in a nation-wide towing service.
In May of 2002, I was in Los Angeles for E3. I decided to surprise Jane. She was playing a Dealership show in Santa Rosa on Friday night; that's another ninety minutes past San Francisco. I wasn't supposed to drive up out of Los Angeles until Saturday, but I snuck out of town at noon instead, talking to her during the day on my mobile phone and pretending I was at various video game industry parties. But along over the Altamont pass, my car began to shake and shudder and heat up and smoke was coming off the engine just a little. And I petted and caressed the dashboard and said sweet things and put the car in neutral and coasted down that long hill that separates northern and southern California. Determined to crawl my way to Santa Rosa for my baby's concert, I let the car roll into the first downhill gas station in those sparsely populated hills - one local man eyed my setup and said I might do well to add some oil to the empty, thirsty car.
So fill my Honda up I did. And the car ran just fine all the way up to Santa Rosa. According to the station attendant, I had come close to killing my car. I felt lucky. But I didn't understand why my windshield was being covered in these tiny drops that would come off with a windshield wiping.
Around ten pm, straight driving all the time motivated by surprise, I pulled up to the Old Vic for the Dealership show. I parked and admired my vehicle, which had so faithfully carried me so far, stopping only to beg for some libation. A man passing by point out that there was a sticky mess of black ooze leaking out from under the hood in front. Alarmed and fearing that my chariot had come only this far to die, I reached my fingers into the oily blackness and discovered that I had left off the oil cap - spraying all my engine, windshield and front car parts with motor fluid. Yecch. But the car still runs!
Over 191,000 miles on it and counting. My grandfather's car had over 240,000 miles on it before he gave it up. I continue to pay about $150 a month in maintenance, I think - cheaper than a new car lease! Though sometimes when I'm sandwiched between SUVs on the freeway, staring up out of my car at someone's doorhandle, I wish for a moment that I drove something more enveloping and protective. Someday maybe.