For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a cool car. And for as long as I can remember, the definition of cool car has shifted (pardon the expression) and changed depending upon what I have seen last.
One of my earliest memories is of riding with my Dad in an Austin-Healey BugEyed Sprite. I can remember “helping” Dad work on this little car out in the garage one evening, holding and handing him tools. It was a cool car, no doubt. But Dad sold it when it was modernized with sleek new headlights and roll-up windows and… well, things were never the same after that.
The first I remember falling in love with was a Triumph Spitfire. There was one on Michigan Avenue in Norfolk and when I would be out riding my bike I always made a point to cruise past. It was so low, and the whole front end lifted up from the windshield like one of those LeMans racers. You could see nearly every mechanical component and work on all of it if you had to (and you had to, given the state of the British car building art in that day).
I considered the MGB for a good long while. It was slightly bigger (safer?) and the originals had that perfect proportion and classic line that just says Sports Car. It seemed like a practical alternative since it had a usable trunk and some room behind the seats to store or carry things like groceries home from the store.
From there I had a brief flirtation with Porsche and a few others but I got really hooked on the DeLorean. I loved everything about that car. The man, the story, “The Dream”, the stainless steel and, of course, the gullwing doors.
But again, as I got older and things changed I started shopping for other cars. I began to realize that I needed reliable transportation and not just super-zoomy looks. I’d have to be able to get to work to pay for the damned thing, after all.
So after some painful reconsideration, I scratched the Spitfire off of my list. They weren’t very good Cars when they were new, and that was thirty-five years ago for the last one off of the boat. I know—I worked at Johnny Baxter in Omaha and saw the last ones come in.
Okay, the British were out, except for the DeLorean. The Porsches were out because, well, just because. Likewise the E36 BMW 3-series. I decided maybe I’d look into something more modern, something with airbags and a dealer network.
Chevrolet Corvettes of a certain vintage are available for cheap(ish). I thought that might save me. I never was much for gold chains and open shirts, so I never really thought of myself much as a Corvette Guy. But I’m not getting any younger and I definitely have more yesterdays than tomorrows. Then I discovered why they were so cheap and moved on.
Maybe a Ford Mustang could do the job? Parts and service anywhere. Still have the drop-top for when the weather was at all nice… but no, I never was excited about Mustangs. So why start now? I need a car that invokes some kind of a passion. I want to enjoy spending a little time and money on it, so that I can enjoy it longer and keep it up.
I have always loved Hondas, and have owned several. Honda made a nice oddly-styled little sports car several years back. The advantage here was that I could take it to the terrific local garage that’s been doing my work for years and it came with airbags and air conditioning and all of the built-in dependability one expects from a Honda. But I just was never really excited about these, either.
They also work on Toyotas, and the last generation of the MR-2 Spyder is kind of cool, if totally impractical.
Kathie keeps reminding me that this does not have to be my “forever” car. I could buy an MG and keep it for a year or two and probably not lose a whole lot of money on it when I sell it on to get my… DeLorean. Or Toyota. Or whatever.
In the meantime, the old workhorse Honda Accord we got back in 2001 now has 175,000 miles on it and nearly everything still works. So I guess I don’t have to make a decision right away….