Despite my lifelong obsession with cars, I didn’t buy my first car until my Senior year of college, so my list is pretty small.

3) 1998 Honda Civic EX Coupe 5-speed

This one was fun when it worked and seemingly returned better fuel economy the harder I drove it. But it was slow and unreliable. I owned it for nine months and invested the purchase price back into it four times over in an attempt to keep it on the road. Ultimately I was unsuccessful and it was scrapped.

2) 1985 Pontiac Fiero 2M4 3-speed


The Fiero gets a lot of hate and my car was the reason why. It’s mid-mounted Iron Duke I4 sent all of 92 HP to the rear wheels through a clunky 3-speed automatic gearbox. It did 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds and couldn’t sustain anything over 65 mph for more than 20 minutes. The ride was awful and the handling was no better. My parents’ 02 Grand Caravan had an identical turning radius.

But I don’t care about any of that because I loved my Fiero. It fit me like a glove and had incredibly comfortable seats for long-distance cruising. Some day another Fiero will be on this list, but next time with a V6 and a 5-speed stick.

1) 2006 Mazda3 S 5-speed


From two-seater to two-plus-two to five-door hatchback. When the Civic crapped out on me I really wanted another coupe, but there aren’t many coupe options in the 10-year-old compact segment that would handle the abuses of pizza delivery. Plus all that cargo space really came in handy when one of the local factories or the college would order nearly 100 pizzas.

This Mazda3 is currently my daily driver. It’s easily the most powerful, comfortable, and reliable car I’ve owned. Out handles the others, too. This one will probably be around until it’s killed by either the Mazda Rust or my own stupidity. Only time will tell which gets it first.

0) 1996 Ford Econoline & F-150

Not our family hauler, but similar.


Not my dad’s truck, but similar.

Bonus round! These weren’t mine, they were my parents’, but I learned to drive in them. Both big, green, and V8-powered (351 Econoline, 302 F-150).