I’ve purchased one new car in my life and that was 26 years ago.

It was a shiny, copper Toyota Corolla that did me proud. For more than a decade, I drove the daylights out of it, back and forth to work and out of town to newspaper assignments. Its lone major repair was a clutch that a mechanic installed incorrectly. I took the asshole to small claims court, channeled Perry Mason and won.

But at about the 200,000 mile mark, the Corolla, through no fault of its own, died.

Driving around with a malfunctioning gauge, I ran out of gas one rush hour on an eight-lane expressway. Unable to get to the side of the highway, I exited the car and somehow made it to the shoulder without becoming roadkill.

The car wasn’t as lucky. Within about 10 minutes, its trunk was smashed into the backseat by some unsuspecting motorist, who escaped unharmed.

I miss that car.

Comfortable, reliable, presentable, it is everything the vehicle I drive now isn’t.

My 2000 Honda Civic is a mess.

The hubcap that popped off when I hit a pothole last year in St. Louis has never been replaced. Duct tape holds on the driver’s side mirror. A piece of Scotch tape stabilizes the rear view mirror, which droops at the slightest agitation.

The plastic skirt on the back bumper is loose, and I can barely hold a conversation while I’m driving, the exhaust is so loud.

I bought the car to save money. So it has served its purpose.

But little else.


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