Here is a list of anything motorized I have own:
Homemade Minibike – Tecumseh X-HP engine – ~$250.00
When we moved from the city to the country, my parents promised me a dirt bike to sweeten the deal. The dirt bike actually turned into a minibike once we realized how much dirt bikes actually cost. We found a used one in the WantAD press and I vividly remember going to pick up the minibike. It was a bright and sunny day and I was so excited. The minibike was pretty cool. It was white and had fat stubby tires. The braking system was suspect as it was just a piece of metal that rubbed against the tire. Needless to say, it didn’t always stop when you wanted it to, especially when the tires were wet. Unfortunately, slapping a lawn mower engine on a frame is not very sound. I would say that at least once a week it would break down: new points, new condenser, new flywheel, clutch, gas tank leak, frame cracked, broken starter rope to name a few. The good part is that I learned small engine repair and was able to fix most things myself. Because of the poor experience with the minibike, I convinced my parents to buy me a…
1983 Honda 185S ATV – ~$900.00
Now this was a machine! I must have nagged my parents for a year straight to get an ATV. Of course, they were dangerous and kids were dying when they flipped over onto themselves. Personally, I must have had it flip on my at least once a day. I guess the reason I never got hurt was just dumb luck. I remember doing jumps and landing on an endo in 3rd gear, flipping backwards down a 20 foot hill, getting stuck in the lake, jumping it into the lake.
Maybe that’s why later in life I have purchased more than a half a dozen Hondas. This beast would never break down no matter how much I abused it. The only major issue I had was when the valve clip broke and the head had to be rebuilt. Fortunately, after leaving the parts strewn apart my garage for months, I got the entire engine back together and it started on the first pull. Absolutely amazing.
1987 Motomarina Sebring Moped ~1000.00
In NJ you had to be 17 to drive a car, but only 15 to drive a moped. A moped was classified as a two wheeled vehicle that had pedals and whose engine no larger than 49cc or 2hp. I forget exactly how I got my Dad to buy me one on my birthday, but I believe my Mom guilted him into it. Unfortunately, I had issues with it the first few days because the head was warped. I remember the dealer saying that it “sometimes happens”, which I thought was ridiculous. Besides the warped head issue, it ran pretty well. It only got up to a top speed of about 29MPH though. If you tried to go faster, like down a hill, you would definitely foul the spark plug. No worries because the little tool kit that was included with the moped had a spark plug wrench and wire cleaner. Cleaning the spark plug was just about an every day thing.
I had the moped for the two years until I get my regular driver’s license and it was great. I remember planning a trip to hobby store that was 30 miles away. While it doesn’t seem that far now, I remember planning if I would have enough gas and what back roads to get there. What a sense of freedom. Another fond memory was getting pulled over by the police. I was all legit though. I had an official driver’s license [I had to do two figure eights without using my feet to pass the exam, no joke], real insurance [85 bucks a year!] and it was registered. When I got pulled over, the cops didn’t really know what to do so they just told me to stay out of trouble. I guess moped registration was not on the police test.
198X Mazda GLC ~450.00
Technically, this was my first car, although I never actually drove it. My dad, kinda of a fix-er-up type of guy, promised my Mom that he would get me my first car. Unfortunately, it was from a junk yard and beat up pretty badly. I actually didn’t mind the car, but my Mom was really upset that my first car would be a junker. I soon traded it in for…
1981 Toyota Corolla ~2100.00
This was the 2dr coupe version. It was red and had a black interior. I guess my Dad felt bad about the Mazda ordeal, so he promised me to get a new radio for it. We went down to Bleeker Street in NYC and I got a Blaupunk cassette/radio deck for it with Benzi box. I never even heard of the Blaupunk brand before, but it sure looked cool.
Thankfully the top speed of the car was about 75MPH otherwise I would have gotten pulled over a lot more than I did. Another good thing was that I played basketball with all the cops so when they pulled me over, they would say “you look familiar” and then let me off with a warning. I was actually a good driver and didn’t speed excessively. I just always seemed to get caught doing 40MPH in a 25MPH speed trap.
A couple of found memories were pulling the e-brake in the Space Farms parking lot and slamming the wheel into a concrete barrier, which bent the axle, which then later broke. No problem as there were plenty of cheap parts at the salvage yard. I also tricked it out with a pair of yellow fog lights. For some reason, I would let random girls drive the car, which ultimately would break off the fog lights. A prelude [no pun] to things to come.
I was able to learn more about fixing cars as well by rebuilding the head and retiming the engine. I’m not sure exactly how it broke, but it involved replacing a lot gaskets, and resetting all the valves.
At one point in college I was wearing Fahrenheit cologne and a bottle of it broke in the back seat. The car REEKED for months. TO this day if I smell that cologne, I think of my old corolla.
SO how the car ended its life is one of those infamous college stories that my friends have never let me live down. To put it bluntly, my girlfriend wrecked it and then broke up with me a few months later. Oh well. Good car, stupid me.
1986 Honda Prelude EX – ~6500.00
So when I got my first full time job working for the University I decided to buy a car. I remember my friend Steve, who was working at a car dealership, helped me haggle with the Honda sales guy. To be honest, I don’t think he budged on the price. I got my Dad to pay for the $1500 down payment and I paid the rest by taking out a $5000 loan from the school’s credit union. I believe between my car payment and insurance, it was half my paycheck.
It was worth every penny though. This was one sweet ride. I have the greatest memories of driving that car with the music blaring, windows down and sunroof open. It was also a 5 speed which made it so much fun to drive; I wish I still had it. Actually, I kinda do still have it. Years later I had given it to my Dad because he offered to fix the rusted out exhaust. Unfortunately, he never fixed it and it lays in his backyard, rusting away to this very day. I would ask him to get the baseball mitt out of the trunk, but he also lost the keys to it!
One 90’s thing I did to it was I added a Viper alarm that talked. If you got too close to the car it would say “Protected by Viper stand back”. And when you armed it, it would say “Viper Armed!”. MEGA MEGA awesome.
1996 Nissan Pathfinder EX – 379.99 a month Lease
My first new car/truck that I leased with my newly married bride, Toni. We got a great deal on the lease. No money down, 15k miles a year for 379 month. The first quote the dealer gave us was 480 something and we threatened to walk out. He dropped it a hundred bucks in a heartbeat. Cool and scary. Another great truck. It was forest green with grey leather. I loved washing it in the weekend, which was a big deal back before kids. I even took it offroad a few times, but it absolutely killed the shocks and springs. When we gave it back after the lease was over they charged us 500 bucks for wear and tear due to a ding, but that was ok since the CD player was broke, muffler rusted practically off and the 4wd stopped working. This was the first and last car we would lease. Leasing is just not for me and is just a waste of money in the long run.
2000 Honda Civic EX Coupe ~16k
I think the reason I bought this car was to relive some of the great experiences I had with my 86 Prelude. Unfortunately, driving a stick in the daily grid of going to work is a lot different than driving to a party in college. It was a nice car, but I think after driving the luxurious Pathfinder, I was not feeling the cloth seats and loud ride. It also made the worst rattle in the window. One cool thing is that I bought this car entirely online. I negotiated the price online and simply had to go to the dealer, sign the contract and drive away.
2001 Honda Accord V6 Coupe w/Leather – ~25k
We actually went to the dealer to buy a CRV for my wife and I decided to trade in my year old Civic for the Accord. I got the V6 2 door coupe with black exterior and black leather interior. I also got the rear spoiler, which the dealer threw in for free. A really great car and the only problem I had with it was that the ABS sensor would fail.
2001 Honda CRV – ~25k
This was for the wife, but unfortunately I made the same mistake with the CRV as I did with the Civic. This car was just too tinny and the seats were really uncomfortable.
2004 Honda Pilot EX-L RES – ~35k
A replacement for the CRV and had a similar feel to our old Pathfinder. We got the DVD option and the kids love it. A great car and we still have it for 2 more years. At this point, I would trade it in for a new one in a heartbeat. There is nothing on the market close to the quality [Don’t even say Explorer]
2006 Acura TL w/Nav – ~35k
I had thought I had another year left on my Accord loan, but to my surprise, in December I got a letter with the deed to my car. Of course my initial plan was to keep the Accord for at least another year and enjoy no loan payments. Unfortunately a few weeks later I was browsed over to the Acura site and they had 4.9% financing on TLs. Two days later I was driving the TL.
I kept this car for almost six years and it was still mint when I traded it in.
2009 Honda Pilot EX-L RES ~32k
If it’s broke don’t fix it, but do replace it! After 100k miles on our ’04 Pilot it was time to look for something new. Even though the car was in good condition, I couldn’t deal with service issues.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug In ~30k
100mpg? Plug in for free with rebates? I’m in.
2016 Honda Pilot Touring ~42k
Our 3rd Honda