A history of cars

car
The Hellacious Honda poses at age 11 by the Alamo Wall.

AS I AM NOT a foodie, I am not a car person either.

I bought my first new car when I was 50 years old. Actually, it was a pickup truck, a 1995 Ford Ranger, bottom of the line, color green, and pathetically underpowered.

With the A-C turned on, it accelerated like a ground sloth.

Before that, I always purchased used cars or drove one I was gifted, way back, by my parents, or I used the car that came with a love interest. For considerable chunks of my adult life, I had no car at all, and/or I used a bicycle.

I love motorcycles, however, and I’ve bought them new. The first was a 1977 Harley-Davidson Sportster, a chic, black, rumbling thing. Wish I still had that beauty.

When I moved to Mexico I left the Ford Ranger parked in the driveway of the home I had gifted my second ex-wife because I did not know if Mexico would be a keeper, and I didn’t want to return to Houston, of all places, with no ride.

After deciding to stay in Mexico, just a few months after moving south, I asked my ex-wife to put an ad in the Houston Chronicle and sell it. She refused, just didn’t wanna bother, and I was forced to fly to Houston, and drive the Ford to Atlanta where I stayed with my parents while I advertised the truck. It sold quickly.

My plan on moving to Mexico was to be car-free. Public transportation is great here, but I was too addicted to Gringo mobility. After seven months, I bought a car.

It was the second new car of my life, a 2000 Chevy Pop, which is sort of a Geo Metro clone, not sold in the United States. It’s a great car for what it is. Not long after I married my child bride in 2002, we drove the Chevy Pop all the way to Atlanta. Straight shift, manual windows, no A-C, no stereo, no power steering, no airbags, no nada.

In 2004, we decided something bigger and with A-C would be nice, so we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, also something that’s not sold in the United States. The Brazil-made Meriva was — maybe still is — sold in other parts of the world as an Opel or Vauxhall.

But in Mexico it was a Chevrolet. Neither the Pop nor the Meriva are sold in Mexico anymore. It appears the Chevrolet Spark replaced the Pop. The Meriva just vanished.

We loved the Meriva, but after five years we decided something even bigger, with A-C, power steering, cruise control, airbags and automatic transmission would be more fitting for our age and station in life, so we bought the 2009 Honda CR-V you see up top.

Though it has some annoying details — touches the cheaper Meriva possessed but the Honda does not — it’s been a wonderful car. In 11 years, nothing of note has broken. Like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps on truckin’.

A couple of times I’ve considered selling it for no reason other than to have a new ride, which is a dumb reason to sell a car. At first I considered replacing it with the highly rated but goofy-looking Kia Soul, but I’ve decided that, when necessary, I’ll buy a Kia Seltos.

As recently as six months ago, I was giving serious thought to the Seltos, but I’ve decided against it because it would be a stupid waste of cash. The Honda is wonderful, and I want to remain faithful even if she is old in car years.

Fidelity is an admirable trait, and she’s never two-timed me.

I love her.

31 thoughts on “A history of cars

    1. Ms. Shoes: The Seltos is a relatively new addition to car options in Mexico. It’s been wildly popular in India, however. As for the Soul, I just recently discovered that it sits rather low, making it impractical for Mexican speed bumps. The Seltos does not have that problem. I really, really want one. In time perhaps.

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      1. Assuming that car prices have yet to catch up with the plummeting USD/MXN exchange rate, now may well be your best chance. Surely they are going to have to hike the peso price of that car if the peso remains bid around 24/USD or more.

        You bought the Honda well, during the last time the peso plummeted. I was almost sure you’d do the same here.

        After all, never let a crisis go to waste.

        Saludos,

        Kim G
        Boston, MA
        Where salt and rust almost inevitably spell the end of otherwise well-functioning cars.

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        1. Kim, P.S.: This just occurred to me. I have little money remaining in the United States. Almost all savings have been transferred to Mexico. That happened long before the current exchange-rate situation. So if I bought a new car now, I would be doing it with pesos purchased at the older exchange rates. Such is life.

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          1. I’d recommend you keep some money in USD these days. Not only is Mexico going to get the covid impact that everyone else is getting, but there’s that little matter of the collapse in oil prices too. And AMLO hardly seems like the leader who is going to rise to the occasion in these dual crises. Lower peso doesn’t seem like a stretch of a forecast. Frankly, I’m amazed that U.S. stocks haven’t fallen farther yet.

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  1. We too love our 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis. It is definitely an “old person car.” Everything about it is large, as are we. I do not travel light. We are gone up to six weeks at a time. Take animals and medical supplies, including oxygen. We have not found any car that we are comfortable in or will hold what we take, except a Mini Van. This is a possibility. Nothing high MPG. This car is long paid for, very comfortable leather interior and the only problem is the CD player. Gotta get that fixed one day. Stereo is fine. I really prefer the money in the bank.

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    1. Beverly: I did an image search on that one. Yep, it’s an old-person car all right. Nothing wrong with that. I think it would be fun to have an old-person car as a spare just for fun. Back in the 1970s, I bought an early ’60s Cadillac DeVille from an old man who lived next door in New Orleans. It was YUGE. Didn’t have it more than about a year because it developed mechanical problems, and I could not afford to fix it. Sold it to a mechanic. It was like riding down the highway in a living room.

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    1. Annette: It cleans up nicely. I took that photo just yesterday. I’ve done every scheduled service on time since I bought it. Alas, right now it’s a little overdue for the 210,000-kilometer service, but I’m putting everything on hold till the Kung Flu thing blows over. I’m replacing the water pump as a precautionary measure, and it’s sitting in a box just over my shoulder right now. I bought it at the dealership a couple of months ago.

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    1. Señor Cotton: Price, size, appearance, features, great reviews. Look on YouTube, and you’ll find lots of reviews. It’s a hugely popular car in India where it debuted some years back. It has not been available in Mexico very long and has not been available in the United States until very recently. But be aware. If you get one first, I’ll be very jealous.

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    2. Señor Cotton, P.S.: Not only would I be jealous were you to buy a Seltos before me, I would be sad. Sad for the poor Seltos that had the lousy luck to fall into your hands because I know the lamentable manner in which you care — or don’t — for cars.

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      1. Hahaha … thanks for the first good laugh of the day.

        By the way, at an exchange rate of 24, the starting price of that car is a super-reasonable $14,292 USD. What are you waiting for?

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  2. Señor, how are Toyotas in your adopted homeland? Up here NOB, I am a convert.
    I have owned many cars and other assortments of vehicles over the years. In my work, for over 30 years, I drove 50,000 to 60,000 miles each year. Decades ago, it was not easy to keep a car in good condition beyond two years at that pace. Not so much a problem anymore.

    Like you, I owned a Harley Sportster. Bought new in 1961. Like you, wish I still had it. But I don’t, now it’s a Honda Goldwing (2018). That is a 6th generation Wing, DCT transmission and all the electronics you expect in this decade.

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    1. Ricardo: Toyotas seem to be quite popular down here. My family — parents, sister, myself — was totally Toyota for decades, and I might have bought a Toyota instead of the Honda nine years ago except for its having the spare tire hanging out back. I did not like that, so I went with the Honda, and I’m glad I did. Nowadays, Toyota does not have the spare dangling out back anymore.

      If you had that Harley in 1961, you were a really young feller. I bet that was fun.

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  3. We bought a Kia Sportage when we moved to Mexico. Good vehicle, no issues with it. Automatic folding mirrors. I really like those when parking in the village. When I lived up north I drove an F-350 pickup. Big difference in power and cost.

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    1. Kirk: Kia is making some fine cars. When I was in the dealership looking at the Seltos a few months ago, I decided to get into a Sportage. On doing so, I whacked my head against the top of the door frame, something I did not do getting into either the Soul or the Seltos. So for me, that is a design flaw on the Sportage.

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        1. Kim: Boy, is that the truth. But it was far worse when I lived in Puerto Rico. Now those are some little folks. I could hardly walk down the sidewalks at times due to how they trimmed overhanging trees.

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  4. I enjoyed your car essay. Nice range of vehicles. I had a Ford Ranger during a brief but memorable year that I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico. You are correct in saying it had no zip. My vehicle love is still with my wonderful Toyota Hilux that I had in Honduras. It was the only vehicle that I named. The truck was Pepe Burro, not to be confused with our then-president, Pepe Lobo. Now I drive a white Mazda CX5. I like it, but I don’t love it.

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    1. Laurie: My Ranger had reasonably acceptable acceleration till the A-C was turned on. The change was drastic. Acceleration became like pouring molasses. During the test drive before buying it, I obviously never turned on the A-C. I took it to the Houston dealership twice till a mechanic finally told me that the Ranger was simply under-powered. It did not need a repair. It would have needed another motor, which was not in the cards. So I lived with it. Of course, in Houston the A-C was often turned on.

      Your Mazda looks quite nice. Insurance on those things is quite high in Mexico. I considered buying one years back.

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  5. 11 years isn’t that much for a car, unless you bought a Fiat or something like that, or you live in rust country. You do get more electronic gizmos now.

    I have a Kawasaki 650 bought some years ago. I really need to sell it because I hardly ever use it. On the other hand, I have a Kymco 200 cc scooter. Use it all the time and love it. I call it my 50-mph lawn chair.

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  6. I miss my giant Oldsmobile 98 lead sled that was like driving a Lazy Boy recliner. Gas mileage, not so much. Now it’s a Toyota Hybrid (50 mpg) and a 1995 Nissan p/u which refuses to die. Take care of them, they’ll run forever. Can’t beat Japanese cars.

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    1. Cracker: Last time I wrote here about thinking of selling the Honda, someone said this: If you’re waiting for a Honda to wear out, you’ll be waiting a long time.

      It stuck with me, and I believe it’s the truth.

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  7. My parents had two Hondas, ’90 and ’92. They drove them 20 years. They’re still running, parents long gone.

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