OK, so I have some spare time now that I’ve finished up graduate school (hopefully for good, but who knows) AND am sequestered at home due to our ongoing collective thud as a civilization, so I think I’m just going to go ahead and write an automotive blog.
For better or for worse, cars are something I have enjoyed thoroughly since my beginnings as a juvenile car pedant during the latter malaise era, peering out the backseat of my parents’ laughably horrible 1980 Chevrolet Citation as I mentally took stock of all the Ford Tempos, Buick LeSabres, occasional Audi 5000s, Pontiac 6000STEs, Nissan Stanzas, Honda Accords, Fox-body Mustangs, Subaru Loyales, Plymouth Voyagers, and sundry other mediocrities plying the rapidly expanding housing tracts and and ever-widening state highways of Chicago’s far western suburbs during the Reagan era.
As a kid, my inclinations for comfort over sportiness or rakishness were well formed. When my sister went to the Chicago Auto Show and brought back a bunch of posters, I was immediately drawn not to the Porsche or the Corvette, but that of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. Even then, I was aged beyond my years, I suppose. Those large, tufted pillow topped and largely unsophisticated land yachts just seemed worlds away from the sensible, solid (except for the aforesaid Citation), and efficient compact cars my father preferred.
Since the age of sixteen, I’ve owned, or was the primary operator of, 11 cars:
- 1985 Buick Regal Somerset
- 1991 Ford Escort
- 1988 Buick Skylark
- 1993 Ford Crown Victoria
- 1991 Mercedes Benz 190E
- 1997 Dodge Neon
- 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
- 1993 Lexus SC300
- 2014 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2011 Subaru Outback
- 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek
My wife owns a 2019 Forester and a Chrysler TC by Maserati, both of which she occasionally lets me drive. I even have a seat memory preset in the Forester.
This list doesn’t necessarily bathe me in gearhead legitimacy, but all of these cars had something to recommend them. Except for the Neon, which was a bulbous and hateful little thing with a confetti pattern on its great bucket seats, because the 90s. Not Greater Rockford’s best work, truth be told. Anyhow, most came into my life because of happenstance or necessity. A few I genuinely sought after, several I loved dearly, and each of them reflect a certain place in my life. At any given time, I usually have four or five different cars I daydream about owning. As of today, I am obsessing over Toyota Tacomas, late-model BMW 3-series, Audi A4s, and for some reason, the Mini Cooper.
In addition to my driving history (my own and those of my friends and family), as well as opinions of current offerings, I will also share my reflection on car culture – from TV shows, Cars and Coffee klatches, the weirdly compelling automotive YouTuber universe, the politics and future of these wonderful yet harmful machines that embody so much of what’s right and wrong with us humans, our history, and our future.