I hadn’t driven Lucky, my 1991 Prelude Si, in 3 months, having been busy working on my other two cars and doing other stuff. It’s a warm-weather car, and finally with some free time, I decided to give it some well-deserved attention on my week off from work.
Both days I drove it were typical for July here in the armpit of the Mid-Atlantic, with temps breaking 90 by noon and a chance of thunderstorms later in the day. On the first day, in the late morning I cleared the driveway and put the dog in the house in order to get Lucky out of the garage. Putting everything back in its place, I headed out of my neighborhood. There was a little smoke coming out of the exhaust at first, a common thing with these cars as they age, especially when they haven’t been driven in awhile. It stopped after less than a mile. I headed west, down a city street that eventually rewards you with a 55 MPH speed limit once you get away from all the development. The area of Chesterfield County I was heading balances the line between suburbs and exurbs, with roads containing six miles of trees and the occasional row of small houses, followed by a new 5-square-mile subdivision advertising new houses that start at $400,000, followed by more trees and farmland. I got stuck behind a previous-generation Odyssey going 5-10 under for a few miles. There are occasional passing zones on these roads, but it’s rare that traffic is clear in the other direction. Eventually the Odyssey turned off and I finally let Lucky open up a little bit. A few miles later, the road entered a state forest and became a lot curvier. It’s no mountain road, but there are lots of blind curves with 35 MPH advisory speeds. I felt comfortable taking most of them at 55 or 60, the road being relatively wide. On a narrower road, I might have taken these curves at 45, due to the slight possibility of a LeSabre coming at me halfway in my lane on the other side of it. (This did happen.) The road curved north, and, being below ¼ tank, I stopped at the gas station at the road’s end. It was one of those little middle-of-nowhere gas stations that look like not much has changed since the turn of the century, with a whopping four gas pumps. It was fairly bustling for where it was, with five or six other vehicles in the parking lot. A Coca-Cola delivery driver was gathering his order off the truck. Next to me was an old guy in an F250 that had parked at the gas pumps but was only buying beer. I walked inside, considering getting a Gatorade until I saw the price of it. I instead just paid for my gas and went on my way.
Getting back on the road, I was at the edge of the state forest, I could have headed west again, but I decided to head north along another curvy road that snaked around the edge of the forest. It has a speed limit of 35, but everyone goes at least 40 except in the hard curves. I had a couple vehicles in front of me, so I didn’t go crazy. For the next few hours I wandered around the western reaches of the county, just enjoying the road and the car. I eventually did get that Gatorade, then kept going after a brief respite for both me and the car. I stopped at a secluded intersection to take a few pictures. These were the only two with my camera that turned out well on the first day.
I wandered around the back roads for a little longer before deciding to head home. I gave the car another break, the temps flirting with 100. The temperature needle didn’t move above the center, but just wanted to play it safe. On the return trip, the car’s only mechanical issue, a faulty throttle position sensor, started manifesting itself. Sometimes, the check engine light will come on for it. Sometimes it’ll randomly start to bog down, but not throw a CEL. It was the former in this case. It’s not a particularly difficult fix, but it requires taking the throttle body off, and it’s a cramped engine bay. It’s easiest to just change the throttle body, and I have another one with the sensor on it, but I haven’t considered changing it a big priority. For 25-year-old-car problems, that’s not too bad. By late afternoon, I was home. I let the car cool off a bit and put it back in the garage.
The next day’s trip would be shorter. Instead of a 100-mile round trip, it was closer to 20. I headed north, the direction of my work commute, onto US 1. Early on, Lucky’s TPS started acting up, this time giving me the symptom of bogging down. I pulled onto a side road, which I was going to do anyway, and let it rest for a few minutes, which always cures it. While it idled I took some pictures.
Resuming my short trip, I continued down the road, which crossed back across US 1. This section of the road is one I frequent, as it has some fun curves, but is often laden with traffic preventing me from enjoying them. On this trip, though, the road was clear in front of me. All the traffic on it was outbound. The car breezed through the curves until the road ended. I turned left onto another curvy road, which had a posted speed limit of 40, but everyone, even the police, goes at least 48 on it. When I got to a stop sign after about 5 miles, I turned off the road and headed for downtown Petersburg. After scouting a few locations, I parked on one of the cobblestone streets in Old Towne to take a few more pictures.
I’m planning on doing a bigger photoshoot for the car in Petersburg (as well as one in Richmond) later this year, when the weather is less crazy. For now I just photographed the two spots and headed home, but there are lots of random places, especially downtown, that make good backdrops for taking car photos. Lucky looks at home among the downtown scenery and back roads. It was great getting back behind the wheel of it after a few months off. It feels wonderful to drive, and my back felt good the whole time. I won’t wait as long to take it out again.