Thirty-one years have passed since I became a licensed driver, and in that time, I have owned thirty-two automobiles. I also briefly possessed a tired Yamaha motorcycle and a battered motorhome. I’m not even counting the vehicles I held in inventory when I had a car dealer license for two years. I can admit that I might have a problem.
It’s a well-established fact that I have an addictive personality. In my lifetime, I’ve battled addictions to alcohol, video games, and chocolate chip cookies. My obsession with buying, selling, and trading vehicles is probably the least harmful of my various vices, but it is, nevertheless, a habit I seem to be powerless to kick.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by cars and trucks. I can not only remember every car that I’ve ever owned, but also many of the vehicles my parents drove when I was a kid. When I turned 16, my mom owned a 1976 Datsun 210, which she let me drive literally to death. By the time it was hauled off for scrap, it was emitting copious amounts of smoke and running on only two cylinders. My friend Grant nicknamed it the Fireball, although we never did see any actual flames through all that foreboding smoke.
Meanwhile, my dad traded-in his 1979 Jeep CJ5 with a manual transmission for a 1980 Ford Thunderbird so that I could drive a car with an automatic. I would have rather he traded away the hail-damaged Chevy Chevette he received from my grandparents after their insurance company totaled it, but alas. Unfortunately, I never bothered to check the oil in the T-bird’s six-cylinder engine, and it, too, eventually died a premature death at my hands.
Before I learned to drive, my parents owned an International Scout, a 1967 Chevy C10 pickup, an early ‘70s Nova, a Plymouth Duster, a couple of Volkswagen Beetles, a VW Bus, and a 1977 Datsun 280Z—all of which I remember well. I forget people’s faces and names, but I never forget an automobile.
My mom worked in the car business as a finance manager, a salesperson, and as a general sales manager throughout my formative years. I guess I learned to love, buy, and sell automobiles from her. Then again, my grandmother, “Grandma Sweetie Pie,” bought a new car every other year until she turned 90. Maybe I inherited my obsession from her.
Either way, there’s no denying that I am fixated on cars and trucks, and I imagine I always will be. One would think after acquiring the car of my childhood dreams, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, (and a hot-rodded 1971 Chevy C10 truck) that I would be content with what I have. But I ask you, are fine-art collectors ever satisfied with the paintings they already own, or are they always on the hunt for a new piece? Do people who collect Precious Moments figurines or vintage dolls ever turn down an opportunity to add to their collections? Will my wife ever be able to go on a vacation without buying a souvenir coffee mug?
With my two classics, our Chevy Suburban family vehicle, Bethany and Alex’s matching Beetles, and our pull-behind camper taking up space in our shop, garage, and driveway, it might appear that there is no room for any more vehicles in our fleet. That, my friend, is merely an illusion. There’s always room for one more.
My buddies Jake and Brian, both car guys themselves, have been working to convince me to add a hydraulic car lift in my shop. Then I could stack one vehicle on top of another. I could even install two lifts for twice the fun. However, if I bought a lift (or two), I wouldn’t have any money left over to buy more cars. But if I buy more cars and don’t have lifts, where will I park them? It’s a classic car conundrum if there ever was one.
First World Problems notwithstanding, I am saving my pennies for another purchase. Our 19-year-old Suburban is still hanging in there, but I would love to buy a newer, more powerful diesel truck to pull our camper with. I had entertained the idea of selling my Bel Air to fund such an upgrade, but after rejecting several lowball offers for my car, I decided to pull it off the market and be patient. Patience is a novel concept for an impulsive car buyer, but the strategy may already be paying off.
My beloved wife has generously pledged to match the money I earn while substitute teaching this year and apply it towards the purchase of a new-ish truck this spring. When the last day of school finally arrives, almost two full years will have passed since my most recent vehicle purchase. That’s an eternity for someone who has bought an average of one automobile per year for over 30 straight years.
In the meantime, the temporary moratorium on car shopping will give me plenty of time to devote to writing. One book idea I’ve been kicking around for a few years is a memoir with the working title “To All the Cars I’ve Loved Before”. I call it an automotive autobiography. With the millions in royalties I’m sure to earn, just think of all the cars I’ll be able to buy…