A little late to the party, but I wanted to dig up actual pictures of my real cars.
‘89 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo: 1997-2000
My dad bought it new, and so when mom decided she finally needed to capitulate and buy a 4-door vehicle now that she was a realtor, dad mandated that I buy her car from them. I paid $3049. $3000 for the car, and $49 to register my mom’s new car. I did love this car, but it fell apart in spectacular fashion. Over those three years my dad and I split $5000 in repairs, and to be honest it had descended into beaterdom despite all that money. The rear air struts were blown out, the rear strut towers were bent, the AC didn’t work, the windshield leaked onto the center console. Dad kept it after I was done with it and dumped another couple grand into it. This picture was probably taken with a disposable camera right before the junkyard hauled it off, after it had sat in a friend’s yard for like a year. It had like 103k miles on it. I wish I still had the seats from it. They were glorious.
‘98 S-10: 2000-2004
My parents decided driving that hooptie back and forth to college was probably not a great idea, so they helped me buy this off lease S-10. It was a V6 auto, with an open rear diff. Learning to drive this in the snow on all-seasons made a man out of me. Only got stuck once, despite plowing through some stuff I had no business taking it into. I slept in it after all-nighters in architecture school several times. I loved this truck, and I should’ve kept it.
2000 Chevy Silverado: 2004-2006
My dad got a bug up his butt to buy a new truck, so he did. He’s impulsive like that. Instead of trading this one in, he offered it to me. I was still a year out of finishing grad school to become a teacher so the deal was: give him whatever I could get for the S-10 as a down payment, and then start making payments on the rest when I started working. It was a good deal, on an excellent truck. In hindsight, I should have kept the S-10 and not saddled myself with debt before I ever earned a freaking dime.
1993 Subaru Legacy: 2006-2006
Just over a year after buying the Silverado, I got my first teaching gig in a rural high school. Because of other stupid decisions, I had a 51 mile each way commute. So, I bought this front wheel drive Legacy wagon at an auction for $600. This is the vehicle I learned to drive stick with. Somebody had thrown a bunch of money at this, before giving up. It had new tires and a bunch of new parts on it. The exhaust system was full of holes, it was a lot rustier that it looked in this photo, and despite being slow as slow could be it still only managed to get 25mpg. Still, that was double what the truck got, and it never left me stranded.
2004 Pontiac GTO: 2006-2006
Now we get to the real meat of my stupid decisions. Things weren’t going particularly well for my parents (building boom bubble was popping, dad’s a contractor, mom was a realtor, ‘nuf said). While dad never called the loan in for the Silverado, I could see the toll everything was taking on them. I decided to trade the truck in on something fun, and then I could owe money to the bank. I should’ve taken a $12k loan on the truck and kept it, but I was younger and dumber.
I traded it on a 16 month old 5200 mile CPO GTO. Because what you should do as soon as you get two nickels to rub together, is commit 25% of your take home pay to payments on a fast car ... right? This car was by orders of magnitude the nicest, coolest, fastest vehicle I ever owned. I loved the way it drove, the way it sounded, the way it felt. When I brought it home, my mom said to me, “Well, it’s nice to finally see you do something dumb. You’ve been 40 since you were 12 years old.”
Holy hell was that thing a piece of shit though. It was a Friday car to the Nth degree. I owned this thing for 3-1/2 months, and it spent 31 days in and out of the shop for various maladies. It was just one thing after another after another after another ...
The final straw was when it left me stranded at a Jeep dealer in East Peoria. When I got it back with a new ECU, I immediately picked up a friend to go do the first and only burnout I’ve ever done, because fuck this car. 12 hours later, I traded it in.
1989 Chevy S-10: 2006-2006
Busy year, eh? All of these vehicles happened in a 5-month span. Between all of the vehicles I actually owned, plus all the various loaners I got while the GTO was constantly broken, I showed up to school in somewhere between 12-16 vehicles that semester. At one point a student of the school, who wasn’t even my student, approached me in the parking lot and said, “Just how many vehicles do you OWN!?!”
Anyways, in between buying the GTO and getting rid of the GTO, I decided to get rid of the wagon and get another truck. I took out a classified ad in this thing called a newspaper, and managed to find somebody to trade the Legacy for this S-10, straight up. It was another V6/auto/open diff truck. It was WAY rustier than it looks in this picture. It had buckets of bondo in it. Every time you shut the tailgate, bits of rust would sprinkle the ground. It was reliable as could be though. I sold it for a grand to a buddy of mine for his business, and he got five years out of it.
2006 GMC Sierra: 2006-current
The GTO had taught me the lemon law didn’t apply to used cars, so I decided I wanted something new, for under $20k. I had lost all the equity I had in the Silverado by buying that stupid Goat, so it didn’t leave me with a lot of options. Most dealers would only give me about $3k less that I owed for it. Two dealers got close to my break even, and I decided a new Sierra was the right truck for me. I had picked out a grey regular cab, V8, short bed for $19k, and was on my way into the dealership to sign the papers, when the salesman found this crew cab on the lot for only $2k more. While it was a touch over budget, and I didn’t need a back seat at the time, I was smart enough to know that this was a screaming deal, and I took it. After taxes and an extended warranty, I was out the door with a brand new crew cab for under $22k
This picture was taken right after I got it home. Boy, she used to shine up real pretty. This truck had been reliable as the day is long. It did finally have it’s first failure a couple months ago when a brake line popped, but she’s done me and my family well. I intend to keep her around for many years to come. I’ve been through so many life changes with this truck, that it’s the only vehicle I’ve developed a deep sentimental attachment to.
1974 Buick Apollo: 2007-2015
My full review of this is in the top 10 Google results if you simply search Buick Apollo. I sold it because my wife wouldn’t let my kids ride in it, and it was too nice to beat on, so I really wasn’t driving it much. Glad I owned it, don’t regret selling it. I would’ve liked to do a bunch of mods to make it better, but the money wasn’t there and won’t be for many years to come.
2000 Cadillac DeVille: 2010-2010
This was my Grandma’s car. I loved it. My parents kept it for a few years after she passed away, and frankly they ruined it. Chain smoking in it between Chicago and Clearwater and back several times in that time made the interior salvageable. By the time I got it, the torque converter wouldn’t lock up. Then it started randomly shutting off. It was either the camshaft position sensors or the crank position sensors that were going bad, I can’t remember anymore. I was about to get married and buy a house, so I couldn’t put any money into this. I cleared the codes and dumped it on CarMax.
2012 Malibu: 2015-2015
My second CPO car. My second lemon. Wasn’t as bad as the GTO, but I couldn’t trust it. I don’t keep cars around that I can’t trust. Dumped it at a small loss. Worth it.
1994 Buick Roadmaster: 2015-2016
Oh man. My one genuinely regretted sale. Hated by my wife, loved by my daughter. She still asks about “the brown car” and wants me to get another one. I may just do that. Damn you rust! Damn you to HELLLL!!!!
1998 Chevy Metro: 2016-2018
A search of the tag RallyMetro will give you the full recap of the shenanigans. Never before has so much vehicular fun been had for so little money. I am forever grateful to XJDano for essentially giving it to me. I never would’ve guessed the little bugger would last this long. Sadly, I’m planning to haul it off to the boneyard tomorrow. There have been no takers for it.
And so there we have it. A dozen vehicles, some kept for a long time, and others for barely an instant. I’m really not sure what will come next.