A history of cars

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.

Riding in style

On moving over the Rio Bravo in January 2000, I intended to use the famously efficient Mexican public transportation to get around. That notion lasted eight months.

I am addicted to my own wheels, I discovered.

So I went to the Chevrolet dealership in the capital city and forked over less than $8,000 (Gringo dollars) for this little baby. It has no AC or sound system. It’s called a Chevy Pop. It’s not sold in the United States, and it’s based on an old Geo Metro design.


It is an absolutely wonderful car. It gets a million miles to the gallon. It’s easy to maintain. The leg and headroom are huge. The backseat folds down, giving you carrying space like a pickup through the hatchback. And it never breaks down.

It cost only $500 more than a new VW Beetle at that time.

Ours has just 75,000 miles after 13 years. It was our only car till 2004 when we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, another great car that’s unavailable in the United States. It was made in Brazil and sold elsewhere as both an Opel and a Vauxhall.

At that point, the Chevy Pop became the spare vehicle. My child bride drove it downtown to the gym thrice a week, and that was about it. It was enjoying semi-retirement.*

But she was using it more of late, going here, there, everywhere hereabouts, and the fact that it has no safety equipment save seatbelts put the worry into me. Plus, she is lovely and deserves a lovely car to carry her about.


So last week we bought a 2014 Nissan March. The little baby has airbags, power steering, automatic transmission (which was new for her), a sound system plus Bluetooth, and other bells and whistles.

And she’ll never lock herself out again, forcing me to come rescue her, standing on the pavement, looking woebegone, staring through the window at the key.

* * * *

If you don’t count the beautiful Harley-Davidson purchased in 1977, I never bought a new vehicle until I was 50 years old. It was a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup.

I sold it five years later in Atlanta.

Since moving to Mexico in 2000, however, this Nissan is the fourth new car. The Chevy, the Meriva, our current Honda CR-V and now the March.

For years, I have looked down my nose at the Gringos who move here in their U.S.-plated vehicles, jam-packed trailers in tow like Okies fleeing dust. My opinion is that if you are moving to Mexico permanently, do it correctly. Leave your junk at home.

Buy new junk here, stuff that suits the surroundings. Mexican junk.

And buy a car like the locals do. But Mexico has allowed foreigners to bring their cars and drive around unmolested for years with expired plates.

And eternal tourist insurance.

But the rules have recently changed here, both with visas and with foreign-plated cars. This has caused lots of headache, consternation and expense where Gringos gather. Now they must have Mexican plates. This provides me pleasure.

I did it right from the get-go.

* * * *

* We sold it to a nephew last week.

(Note: Lots of links can sauce up a story, I think.)