So, I don't mean to brag, but today's Morning Shift was all about me. 2nd Gear: Volvo. 3rd Gear: Honda. Neutral: Volvo and Honda.
My driveway is currently filled with a '94 Honda Accord EX, '13 Honda Accord Sport, '93 Volvo 945 Turbo, and two '98 Dodge Dakotas. If only the Jalopnik gents would have included something about the Gen III Dodge Dakota, I would have had all my bases covered.
This got me thinking about how weird my automotive devotion is to different manufacturers. I don't follow one specific brand. I don't follow brands under one big corporate umbrella like GM or VAG. I don't follow brands from one specific nation or even for specific type of car it makes. My attachment matches that of my driveway: efficient and reliable Japanese; safe, practical, and unassuming Swede; and crude but powerful American.
But why? Why am I so attached to three different brands from three different nations that make three completely different vehicles? Why every time I shop for a new car I'm led back to these three brands? Well, it's complicated, but I think it has a lot to do with how I acquired them. So, here's the long winded story of how I did...
1998 Dodge Dakota
This is the first vehicle I bought on my own. I paid for it by running a little mowing business in high school, so the fact that it was a truck was very beneficial. I've owned it since I was 17, and I wanted it to replace the embarrassing (more on that below) '86 brown on brown Volvo 740 passed down through from my grandparents and siblings. My favorite cars have always been the '68 Charger and the original Viper. So, I knew I wanted a Dodge. I wanted RWD, and I wanted a V8. Well, 11 years ago, the only ponies in the Dodge stable that offered that were pick-ups. The Ram was too big, but the Dakota was a much better size with the, in my eyes, much better and sculpted styling. I also loved the fact that you could get it with the V8 engine. To me, it was a modern day interpretation of a muscle car...shoehorn the biggest engine possible into the smallest body possible. I desperately wanted an R/T, but I 'settled' on the green beauty you see due to price albeit with smaller wheels, taller ride height, and 42 cu in less under the hood than an R/T. But not to worry, I have corrected all those defects over the years.
1998 Dodge Dakota Part II
Well, a year after owning my green Dakota I got cocky, as many 18 year old teens do, and my dad and I bought a wrecked '98 Dakota to rebuild for him to eventually drive. It was a near duplicate of mine...318 V8, 2WD, and extended cab. The project was a little more ambitious than planned. College, job, marriage, kids, and life in general got in the way. So, it took much longer than anticipated, but it's road-worthy again! We've put a couple hundred miles on it, but there are still a few finishing touches left.
'94 Accord EX
My brother bought this car used when he was in college. My dad was not really into cars other than routine maintenance, but my brother loved all things performance. So, naturally as a younger brother, I leeched to him with all things automotive. So, when he stepped up to a mark IV GTI, I snapped up the little Honda as quick as I could. It's under-powered little 2.2L 4-cylinder is masked by the wonderful manual, general toss-ability, and willingness to rev. So, now 19 years old with 283,000 miles, 150,000 of which is from my time behind the wheel, it is definitely showing its age, but I cannot imagine getting rid of it despite my wife's insistent nagging. I'm actually thinking of replacing the rear quarter panels to eliminate the typical Honda rust and repainting the whole thing. Why? Because I can.
'93 945 Turbo
So, as I mentioned above my first car was a brown on brown Volvo 740 with a measly 115-hp and 4 speed auto. I hated that thing in high school. I thought it was uncool and a crime that I, a motoring enthusiast, was stuck driving a shit-brown grandpa Volvo, but it was a free car from my parents, so I couldn't complain too loudly. It was also the only car I would get from them, as they often reminded me. However, when I look back on it, I loved that thing. It was big, comfy, reliable, and un-apologetically a brown brick. It was also RWD, which made it fun in the snow with the small amount of power keeping me from getting into too much trouble. I realized how much I missed it in college and bought a '91 740 turbo sedan for dirt cheap as a project. It was fun to drive and work on, but I wanted to convert to a full weirdo, and I needed more room. The red 945 turbo fit the bill perfectly, and I absolutely love it! What other 22 year-old actually wanted an old Swedish station wagon? When I bought it, it became the 10th+ Volvo in my family. So, there's also some loyalty due to that, but that's a story for another day.
'13 Accord Sport
When my son was born my wife and I hauled him around in his infant car seat in my Accord, my Volvo, and her '05 Civic coupe. However, once we moved up to the toddler car seat getting him in and out of the two Honda coupes became problematic. She was unwilling to drive my Volvo on a daily basis, so that led us down the path of a new car and selling her Civic. We both wanted to stick with a manual transmission, so we test drove anything we could find with 3-pedals. Sadly, that was a small list in our price range. After driving a handful of cars we both independently choose the Accord. I'm not sure if there was a level of comfort from both of us going from older Hondas into the new Accord, but I do know both of us fell in love with the buttery smooth gear changes. That alone was the deciding factor.
Well, if you made it this far, now is the part where I'm supposed to tie it all together. Well, here's the thing...I can't. These cars all became parked in my driveway for very different reasons, whether it be first vehicle I ever purchased, nostalgia for a first car, family loyalty to a brand, influence from a gearhead family member, or just general opinion of a car. It just sort of worked out that all those reasons have led me to Volvos, Hondas, and Dodges. It's also funny that a lot of new cars on my wishlist are from those three brands. I've often thought about trading all my cars in to buy a respectable, new car with a lot more features and comforts. I know that would make my wife very happy. Every time I do, though, I can never decide on what to get. Nothing matches the efficiency and fun to drive factor of the Hondas, the practicality and sleeper-status of the wagon, or the towing/payload and shear grins of the V8 Dakotas. Plus, I wouldn't be able to wake up in the morning and decide what to drive based on my day.
So, that is my story of why my fleet of cars puts me in the stereotypes of a inattentive Consumer Reports reading appliance driver (Honda), sensible but a bit boring liberal with a young wild streak (Volvo), and redneck (Dakota). So, at the minimum, you'll at least understand how I can post one minute about fuel efficiency, the next about 'Screw SUVs! Save the Wagons!' and follow up with a post of why every American needs a pick-up cuz 'Murica.
How about you fellow Oppo-nauts? What is your weird car brand allegiances to different manufacturers and why? What different brands are in your driveway at night? What different brands are in the driveway in your dreams? Hopefully you can respond below in a few less words than me!
Also, first Oppo post! Woot!