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.

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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.

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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.

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.