A history of transportation

The first car I ever owned was a 1956 Plymouth Savoy, just as you see here. It had been my grandmother’s but when she died my parents gave it to me in 1967. I was married with a kid, so it was much appreciated. My first wife and I were living in a rental in Uptown New Orleans, and our only transportation was the St. Charles streetcar, and we had to walk a few blocks to get to the streetcar line.

The streetcar was a fun way to get around, but for convenience a car is preferred. This photo was probably taken about 10 years before we were streetcar regulars on the same route.

The Plymouth carried us a few years, but in 1969 I got a decent-paying job on the New Orleans newspaper. I don’t remember what happened to the Plymouth, but I bought a mid-’60s VW Bug convertible and, boy, was that fun. I found this photo online. I don’t know who the blonde is.

When my first wife and I divorced in 1971, I left the Beetle with her, and she fairly quickly destroyed it by neglect. I moved to the French Quarter, and a bicycle became my transportation until I bought a BSA motorcycle which I shipped to Puerto Rico in 1973. The BSA stayed in Puerto Rico when I left the island about a year later.

Yep, me.

In New Orleans again, I was back on a bicycle, but later I bought a 1977 Harley-Davidson Sportster. I met my second wife-to-be in the mid-’70s, and her 1975 Toyota Corolla became “our” car for years.

Then another Corolla, bought used, and then yet another, also used, when she totaled the previous one while racing a stoplight.

After 19 years we parted company in 1995 and again I had no car. That’s when I bought my first-ever new, four-wheeled vehicle, a 1995 Ford Ranger, a pickup I kept five years until I moved to Mexico.



Here I purchased four new cars over 14 years. First, in 2000, a Chevy Pop, a sweet, little thing not sold in the United States. It was a Geo Metro clone with no AC or even a radio that we drove all the way to Atlanta and back in 2003. Then, in 2004, a Chevrolet Meriva, also not available in the United States. Then, in 2009, a Honda CR-V. Then, in 2014, we bought a Nissan March for my child bride.

We still own those last two, which brings me to the purpose of this post. What’s gonna come next? I have a system.


My Honda CR-V has been the best car I’ve ever owned. Twelve years and not a single problem of any consequence. The thing runs like it did the day I drove it out of the dealership in the nearby capital city in early 2009. I’d never owned a Honda before.

Looking ahead to the day when I may need a new car due to an accident, robbery or an expense so high it’s better to just buy a new car, I like to have the next vehicle chosen. I would prefer another Honda, but the CR-Vs have doubled in price since 2009, and I won’t pay that.

I don’t have a job.

I turned to Kia, specifically the oddly named Soul — good reviews and, though I am quite tall, I can get in and out with ease. So that was my backup for a couple of years till I discovered its rather meager ground clearance, not good in a nation loaded with speed bumps.

Sticking with Kia, I turned to the Seltos, which only appeared on this side of the world relatively recently though it’s long been wildly popular in India. It was my top alternative till just a few days ago when I visited a dealership and sat in the HR-V, a relatively new addition to the Honda line that was upgraded this year. Wowzer!

The mid-model I like costs 403,900 pesos, which is about $20,000 U.S. right now, plus selling my CR-V would trim that down a bit. You cannot haggle at Mexican dealerships like you do above the border.

It’s not as large as the CR-V, but it’s large enough, plenty of headroom. And it’s a good deal less pricey than the CR-V.

It’s my new main man. But I need a reason to buy one aside from just wanting to, like a teenager. Maybe I should drive my current Honda into a tree because I don’t think it’s ever going to wear out.

It appears that when you buy a Honda, you have it for life.

The new Honda HR-V is not a Plymouth Savoy.

26 thoughts on “A history of transportation

  1. What a coincidence. Felipe. I was looking at buying a Honda CR-V when we go down. My son has one (a 2007) and it has been a great car for him. Good to hear they make good ones on the fun side of the wall as well.


    1. Mike: Honda makes spectacular cars. I paid 280,000 pesos for our CR-V in 2009. I don’t remember what the exchange rate was then. That amount of pesos today would only be about $14,000 U.S. Fat chance of getting a new CR-V for that amount these days. So the fact that CR-V prices now start at 560,000 pesos instead of the 280,000 I paid is, I imagine, a combination of the different exchange rate and that it’s simply a far fancier automobile than the 2009 model.

      Till I bought the Ford Ranger in 1995 I and everyone in my family had bought Toyotas and lightly used ones, no more than one or two years old. Always worked out fine. Buying used cars in Mexico is a dicey proposition, however, though I am sure that good used ones are available at the dealerships, which sell them with guarantees just like what happens above the border. My wife is paranoid about not buying used cars here, and her attitude has influenced me a bit. Anyway, new ones are more fun.

      Unless you’re quite flushed with money, I’d recommend you look hard at the HR-V. It’s really sweet.


      1. I seem to recall that you took advantage of the weakness in the peso in 2009, generated by the financial crisis to buy your current ride. Thus I believe that you got something like a 20-30% discount in USD terms. So you might consider that when comparing the price difference.

        But if you no longer have USD savings accounts, you won’t be able to take advantage of the next peso crisis, at least beyond snapping up a car in pesos before they raise the peso price.


        Kim G
        CDMX, Mexico
        Where, due to a combination of horrendous traffic, difficult parking, and the idiocy of “Hoy no Circula,” a car isn’t nearly as useful as it might appear.


        1. Kim: Both you and Ms. Shoes have better memories than my aging brain. What you say rings a bell. As for now having a U.S. account, I have none, squat, zilch. All my resources are in “real money,” i.e. Mexican pesos.

          As for the inconveniences, vehicular and otherwise, of living in Mexico City, there are legions of them. Better out here in the provinces.


  2. CR-Vs are very popular down here, I bought a Kia Sportage, and it’s a good car. Bought it in September three years ago. I looked around to who had the best sale on last-year models and bought a Kia. I would have been happy with a Honda, Kia or Toyota.


    1. Kirk: When I was checking out the Seltos a year or two ago at the dealership, I decided to sit in a Sportage out of curiosity. After just getting in and out of the Seltos with ease — the smaller Soul too — I immediately whacked my head on getting into the Sportage, so … not for me.


  3. How many KM on that Honda? You might never need another car as it appears that you take care of that one. Over the very long haul, the weakest part of any car will be the plastic parts (something BMW owners sadly know all too well). If your car is parked in the shade, that is very probably a long ways into the future.

    As for HR-Vs, they are VERY popular in Ajijic. My friend “B” has one and it’s a pleasant car, if a bit gutless.


    Kim G
    CDMX, Mexico
    Where there’s a constant internal battle between my love of cars and the sheer impracticality of owning one here.


    1. Kim: There are 220,000 KM on the Honda. I do take care of it, do all services, and you are correct. It could last longer than I do, being as how I am long in the tooth. It is parked in the shade. As for HR-Vs being gutless, that depends on who is driving. I bet it’s quite sufficient for my non-racecar personality. You are a car man, cut from a different fabric.


      1. Relatively speaking, in car-years, that Honda is younger than you are. Just hang onto it. Even if you someday have to, say, replace the transmission, you’re not battling rust or anything like that. By the way, if Honda subscribes to the nonsense of “lifetime” transmission fluid, ignore them and change it pronto. Transmissions last much longer with regular fluid changes. Your car’s weakest points will be things like shocks, suspension bits, half-shafts, and motor mounts. Especially with front-wheel drive, you’ll probably have to rebuild the front end at some point, but it’s well worth doing.

        I have a 2001 Mercedes SLK230 in Boston with about 85K miles on it, fairly low. Mechanically, it’s perfect, but it’s going to rust away before it wears out. Like you, I’m good about maintenance. But there’s little one can do about rust, except live in a climate where they don’t salt the roads.


        1. Kim, P.S.: Yep, changed the transmission fluid just last April. Also changed the water pump a few months back just to be on the safe side. It was not presenting a problem, but I did it anyway due to the mileage. My mechanic said it was a good idea too, but he would say that.


          1. Water pumps usually give some warning of impending failure, either by leaking or growling. But your mechanic wasn’t wrong.

            Before my trip to CDMX, I pro-actively replaced a bunch of stuff in my car. I’d rather be out a few hundred bucks in new parts than out a few hundred bucks in a long-distance tow.


  4. Have had the 2020 HR-V for a year now, Thinking it’s one of the best cars I’ve had, also excellent gas mileage. I don’t think you can go wrong with Honda.


    1. Hi, Ben: Thanks for the feedback. Sounds like your experience with the HR-V has been the same as mine with the CR-V that I’ve had for 12 years now. The only drawback, if you can call it one, is that they never give you a good excuse to buy a new car. They’re like the Energizer Bunny.


  5. The ubiquitous (I had to look that word up) VW Beetle! I drove a 1965 “vocho” for 5 years while doing my studies. Always took me where I needed to go. In those days there was nowhere near the selection of autos that you have enjoyed since your arrival here.

    If I remember correctly the foreign brands were VW and Renault from Europe, Datsun (later Nissan) from Japan and of course Ford, Chrysler; Chevrolet and American Motors. The prestige models were the Ford Gran Marquis and the Chevrolet Suburban. Autos were very expensive back then. Ownership was far below what it is now. Credit was difficult to acquire. The NAFTA agreement slowly changed all that.


    1. Antonio: When I bought my first car in Mexico, the Chevy Pop, I also looked into the possibility of buying a vocho. At that time, the price difference between the two was inconsequential, the dollar difference of about $500, so getting the Pop was, as they say, a no-brainer. It was a wonderful car in spite of having virtually no bells and whistles. I am very tall, and I slipped into it easily, lots of legroom. It never broke down. Easy to service. The back seats folded down to create a relatively huge cargo space. It used very little gasoline. I bought it in October of 2000, and it became my wife’s car when we bought the Meriva. We kept it 14 years, finally selling it to a nephew who rather quickly turned it into a trash heap. Oh, well. I now wish we had kept it just for the fun of it.


  6. I had a 1956 Plymouth, a lemon yellow station wagon. I loved it. Did yours have a push button transmission selector? One day I was going down a steep hill in Hollywood. I wanted to engage a lower gear to slow it down, and hit R by mistake. As soon as I realized my mistake, I pictured the whole transmission falling out, But it had some sort of an interlock over 3 mph, and nothing happened.

    Eleven years ago, in anticipation of some sort of a move, I bought a Honda Odessey Minivan. Three years ago when I finally did move, it paid off. I loaded it with about as much as I could get in a standard pickup, and everything was secure overnight. After 11 years, I only have 43K miles on it, so it may be my last vehicle.


    1. Phil: If memory serves, it did have push buttons. I recall wondering what would happen if I pushed Reverse while tootling along forward at a pretty good rate. You have answered that question. Makes sense. As for Honda Odesseys, I am a fan. I would like to have one. Never will, of course. No need, plus they ain’t cheap.


      1. I should have added, the transmission push buttons were mounted at the left end of the dash. It made a convenient place to rest your left hand.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Felipe,

    I recall this being a topic of conversation a couple of years ago when you previously had an itch to buy a new car. I believe you concluded you didn’t need a new car. Having ridden in your CR-V, I think you made the correct decision. It’s doing just fine doing what it’s designed to do; getting you and your child bride safely from point A to point B.

    My advice, spend the money on something nice for your child bride, something that will appreciate in value, not depreciate the minute you drive it off the lot.



    1. Troy: You are correct in that it would be unwise to dump the CR-V with no good cause, and I don’t plan to do that. It is fun to dream, however, and it’s a good idea to know what I’ll move to whenever the current car fails to serve for whatever reason. So …

      But I won’t be spending the equivalent cash on my wife. I’ll just let it sit in an investment fund, which is where it is now, making a bit of cash. And regards back in your direction, señor! Or, as we say here, saludos.


    2. Troy, P.S.: And yes I wrote something similar a year or two back when I made the same decision, but that time it was the Kia Seltos that had advanced to the warm-up box. It’s still a great option, but Honda has a longer track record.


Comments are closed.