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Off Topic Discussion: Your Wheels

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1972 Buick LeSabre
1972 Buick LeSabre

This has nothing to do with baseball, but we haven't had a nice off-topic discussion for awhile. These are good community building exercises and helps the Minor League Ball community learn more about each other.

For today, let's talk about cars. I've had autos on my mind recently since we are about to get a car for my son who just turned 16. That got me thinking about my first car, which was a 1972 Buick LeSabre, a hand-me-down from my dad that got me through high school 1984-1986 before it finally died. It looked very much like the LeSabre in the photo, two-door coupe, same color, etc., although mine wasn't a convertible.

Here are the cars I've owned through my life and what I thought of them. What cars have you owned?

***1972 Buick LeSabre, 1984-1986. My dad gave me this. He hadn't taken good care of it and despite just 40,000 miles, the 350 V8 engine was shot due to lack of maintenance and infrequent oil changes.

***1977 Ford Mustang II, 1986-1990. My college car, four-cylinder engine. It looked great but was a total piece of junk that broke down several times per year. It was finally no longer repairable by the summer of 1990.

***1978 BMW 520: June-July 1990. I got an incredible deal on this in trade for the Mustang. The catch was that it was a gray market import which had not been brought up to proper US emissions standards. I had never heard of a gray market car before. I couldn't find a mechanic who was willing to work on it and finding parts was impossible. I took it back to the dealer and threatened to report them to the Iowa Attorney General for selling me a car that wasn't even really legal for me to own.

***1990 Mitsubishi Mirage, July 1990-May 1995. Almost-new car, they gave me a terrific deal on this, taking the illegal BMW back and giving me way more than it was worth in trade for this, I assume because they didn't want me talking to the AG. The Mirage was a great car, economical and reliable and fun to drive, but was destroyed by a drunk driver in 1995 in an incident that almost killed my wife. She was t-boned by a drunk running a stop sign at 60 MPH. The car was ruined but Mitsubishi engineering saved her life.

***1995 Ford Aspire: May 1995-February 2011. Replaced the Mirage, this is the first and only car I ever bought that was new off the lot, just 25 miles on the odometer. Economical, slow even with a stick, 4 cylinder, got excellent mileage. It was mechanically reliable until 2006 when it started to fall apart. Kept it around as a spare car until '11 but eventually sold it to a parts dealer.

***1989 Chevrolet Beretta, February 1998-June 2003: Bought from a friend when we needed a second car to compliment the Aspire. Fast, stick shift with a 6-cylnder, sporty, but worn out already by the time I got it, difficult to keep running, temperamental and had been treated badly by previous owner. Sold to a dumb high school kid in 2003 who wrecked it within a month.

***1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra: Spring 1999-July 2003: Bought from my father-in-law. Fine vehicle, never gave any trouble other than normal stuff like brake pads. Totaled in car accident, 2003, two weeks after I sold the Beretta because we had too many cars.

***1998 Mazda 626: July 2003-July 2009. Replaced the Cierra. Nice to drive, good acceleration and power from a 4-cylinder and got good mileage for a 4-door sedan, gave good service until transmission died in 2006. Tranny in these cars were apparently the weak points, prone to overheat. Engine was developing serious problems by mid-2009, not unexpected approaching 200,000 miles, and it was going to cost a lot to keep up.

***2000 Toyota Sienna van: February 2006-present: Bought for Jeri since the Aspire was getting too hard to maintain and she wanted something bigger. Excellent vehicle, just now showing its age.

***2005 Buick LaCrosse: July 2009-present. Traded the 626 for this. Outstanding vehicle so far, over 120,000 miles, I've had it for five years. Non-standard repairs so far have been ABS brake sensors a year ago and a bad water pump this week, but overall I love it.  The 3800 engine will go forever as long as I take care of it. Smooth Buick ride, has some oomph to it, but gets great mileage for a larger car.

***2010 Ford Escape, October 2014-present: We just got this for Jeri, to replace the Toyota van which will be sold.

So of my cars:

***Best mileage: Ford Aspire
***Most fun to drive: Chevy Beretta
***Most reliable: Mitsubishi Mirage, Toyota Sienna, Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra
***Least reliable: Ford Mustang II, Chevy Beretta
***Biggest mistake: BMW 520

Overall, I've had good results with cars. The only real junker was the Mustang. The Beretta and the LeSabre had a lot of problems but both had been abused when young; if a GM car is properly maintained (as the Olds and the LaCrosse have been), they do as well as anything else. The Toyota and the Mitsubishi showed great reliability, typical for Japanese cars apparently. The Mazda is also Japanese but was less impressive mechanically than the Sienna and Mirage.

Generally, however, most of my car problems have just been normal wear-and-tear or attributable to poor treatment from earlier owners. The only car that I think was simply badly designed was the Mustang.


What cars have you had, and what categories do they fit into?