by Justin Crockett
Some men feel the need to maintain a stable of flashy rides, to be ever-hunched over an engine deep in thought, to perpetually be soaping and hosing off tires, to sit in a driveway and rev a car motor inexplicably, repetitively, and loudly.
Me? I like a sensible sedan. Give me a vehicle and I will change the shit out of its oil. I will dutifully keep a can of Fix-O-Flat in the trunk. Tires? I’ll inflate the tits out of them, as per manufacturer’s recommendations.
I’ve had a few whirlwind romances, automobilically speaking. Each one left an imprint on my heart, and each one exploded spectacularly, as each lover’s embrace should.
note for pure gearheads: most of these are stock photos to protect the innocence of the vehicles that I have personally entered in my life.
1997-1998: The 1994 Ford Tempo
Bluetooth connectivity: No!
Drive Train: No, it’s a car
My first car, my first love. Some things they don’t tell you about a black car, though: when you open the door in the middle of the summer, the car itself actually exhales a hot breath of fury onto where your face was previously located.
I got my first Discman when I had this car, and the sheer amount of wires required to play that thing in the vehicle made it look like I was keeping something on life support.
My short time with this fine specimen ended when I backed up onto a bush stump and tried to keep going, rendering the transmission, in car terms, on my front yard.
1998-2000: The 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Station Wagon
Color: “Fuck Me” Blue
Engine/transmission: Chevy Snarler with a dual-winged chassis(fuckin’ maybe)
Onstar assistance: No
6 CD changer: How’s about tapes?
Like a perfect blue boner unfurling onto the highway, this car….I don’t remember much about. It had room. Yeah, we’ll go with that. That fucker had room, for…things. I think the alternator went up, and I was too young to realize that’s kind of an easy fix.
So I think I just literally left it somewhere.
2000-2005: The 1997 Nissan Sentra
Color: Androgynous Burgundy
Engine/transmission: The much-anticipated Nissan Vroom with windshield wiper fluid reservoir
Tires: All four
Number of babes slayed by car appearance: 0
Number of raccoons hit and killed by car: 1
The workhorse of my early to mid 20’s, this magenta-ish abomination was all function, it even had a spoiler! During street deathmatch races, my drag was very minimal due to this!
One day, when I lived in Baltimore, someone broke one of the windows during the night and stole all my CDs. I walked to my car in the morning and witnessed the aftermath. I knelt to the ground in agony, and raised one solemn fist to the sky, swearing to my blood demon that I would find the antagonist, and vanquish him into a puddle of grief droplets. Then I walked to work. And then the city towed it five minutes later.
And then after I got it back, something else went wrong, and I think I just literally left it somewhere.
The Wasteland Years: 2005-2008
Color: Republican White
Engine/transmission: Mitsubishi Rumblefist XP Series (XR series is garbage)
Fits in standard garage?: No
Nods of approval when driving through urban areas?: You betcha
I’m driving behind you, am I a cop?: No, I am not a cop
After the ordeal with the broken, tattered Sentra in Baltimore, I embarked on a long campaign of stoic walking and public transportation. Melting into the city hellscape, I lived off of the bones of the dead. I foraged the hopeless streets for any kind of connection, my hands stuffed in my pockets, my sunken eyes never raising. When I spoke, a hollow tone emerged that rattled off of the concrete and steel, and I made sure I always had quarters for the bus.
I eventually was gifted a true white whale: a Lincoln Towncar. What it lacked in turnability, it made up for with a complete lack of rear shocks. Which made every trip to Dairy Queen a rolling, bouncing, real-life Dr. Dre video.
At some point during work one day, the rear suspension firmly made a choice to resent the rest of the car, and drove itself into the asphalt. That’s right, the car had bounced so much, the rear axle snapped clean in half.
I think I literally just left it there.
A Rebirth, 2008-2016: The 2003 Hyundai Elantra
Color: Triumph Gold
Engine/transmission: Both there
Aux input: No…
Cassette tapes in trunk that date back to first car: Two
Gas tank that uses blood instead of gasoline: Dude, I wish.
Rising from the ashes, I got a hot tip on another sensible sedan that only had 11,000 miles on it. Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed the salesman by his stiff collar and shook him until his teeth collected in a pile on his stupid sales-y desk.
I still drive it. Girls around town find the nearest bed and lay in it on pure reflex now. I get about 30 miles per gallon, and that’s with EVERY gallon of gas. My carbon footprint is like a twelve. What have you done with your life today, loser?
Balls Deep In Adulthood, 2016-Present: The 2012 Nissan Versa
Color: Bird Shit-Accentuating Black
Engine/transmission: Seems to be
Aux input: FUCK YEAH, PLUS SUBWOOFER
Tires that inexplicably lose air every two weeks: 1, rear passenger side
When you think “base model”, you’ve obviously been in my car, and I’d like you to leave now, please. Imagine stripping yourselves of conveniences like “being able to lock your car with your key fob”, or “having the ability to place your toddler gently in her car seat without whacking her head on the door frame”, or “being fairly certain this automobile was equipped with a roll cage”, or “where the diggens is the rod that holds the hood up?”
I took on this car when my wife purchased a car more suited to her long daily commute. I also took on the car payment, because I had $165 too much every month. Other than feeling slightly like I’m in a tin can and if my toddler daughter sneezed I would clutch the wheels with white knuckles due to the imminent possibility of capsizing onto the road, it’s economical and gas-efficient. The hatchback keeps my ambitions in check when it comes to putting groceries in. The wheels feel just a cunt hair too tiny. My knees are in the same position when driving that I put them in when people are trying to scoot past me at a baseball game. But there’s a small Sirius player clinging to the AC vent, and two old bottles of dubious fruit-flavored wine in the trunk, so I should be set if I happen upon a group of middle-aged rural housewives in need of some quick uninterrupted music.
Balls Deep in Soccer Dad Territory, 2018: The 2015 Ford Escape
Color: T-1000 Silver
Engine/Transmission: Both present, and silky smooth as a shirt you’d wear in a 90’s yearbook photo.
Audio options: I’ve entered the Bluetooth audio age! There’s like zero wires traversing my lap and thighs when I’m driving. There’s USB charging IF I NEED IT. I HAVEN’T EVEN USED IT YET.
Tires: Big ones! One inexplicably lost air in the first night that I had it (same placement as the Versa tire; I think rear passenger tires resent me), but Royal Farms offers free air. Does everyone know this??
When you approach the age of 40, things like “do I have enough money?”, and “should I add a much larger payment to my monthly expenses” get thrown out the window in favor of immediate gratification. I drove to a local dealership and Glengarry Glen Ross’d the shit out of them. “Here’s what I need, here’s what I can afford, this is the thing I want. Now I’m going to flippantly look at my phone and appear disinterested because I have the upper hand”.
Of course, they always have the upper hand, but the metaphorical fisting I received still ended with me in a sweet new ride wherein my daughter doesn’t have to share living space in her car seat with all of my various musical equipment, books I’ll never get around to reading, and hoodies that I’ve tossed in the back with every intention of reassimilating them into the society of my closet.
The audio is crisp, there’s a rear camera so that children don’t get trapped underneath my wake, and again, I can fit an ungodly amount of shit in the trunk. It does feel weird being positioned so high after a mostly-sedan life where my lowness to the ground ensure a healthy respect for dirt and nature. I think I will adjust.