As a 40 year old driver, it’s not typical that I’ve only ever had two cars in my life. But then I’m not big on change. I like what I like and take care of it. Always have. My first car was a blue 91 Sprint five door. Had a raging 1 liter inline 3 cylinder with a five speed. Hardly a racer but it was mine and I loved it. I bought it three years old and drove it for the next ten years, which got me through university, a year off, tech school, and university. After I’d been working a couple of years, I found myself married, living in my first house, and expecting our first child. It was time to move on and get something safer, warmer, and less likely to be a subject of a prank (some teens picked it up and turned it sideways in a parking lot once… It was actually pretty funny). I sold it to a teenaged girl from a nearby small town. I’ve often wondered what ever came of that car.
Next came the silver Protege sedan. I have never had even a moment of buyer’s remorse in picking up that car despite the nagging feeling of being ripped off by a skeezy sales manager. Seriously, who in 2003 wears a mullet, short sleeve button down, and hard-soled loafers.
The black on black interior is comfortable, well finished, and classy compared to other models I was choosing from in 2003; it’s tossable, but flat in the corners; responsive and quick. Sure, once again, it’s no racecar, but it’s sporty enough for getting me where I need to go. Still, it’s eleven years old now and starting to show its age with a touch of the surface rust that plagues Mazdas and their thin paint. I’ve only got 119,000km on the odometer, and it’s mechanically sound. It still drives as well as it ever did and I know I can depend on it. But I’m ready to move on. I’m ready for something with a cabin filter so I don’t need to stock a supply of Swiffer cloths. I’m ready for a turbo. I’m ready for all wheel drive so I don’t have to waste four hours attempting to escape the valley after the first big storm of the winter. And as much as I love to row my own, my last couple of arthritis flares tell me I’m ready for an automatic.
I learned to drive stick at the age of twelve on my uncle’s old Case tractor. We grew up with trikes, dirt bikes, and quads so piloting a vehicle was easy enough and we learned pretty early on about gear selection. Gravity is a good teacher when you don’t choose appropriately while driving a rainbow down at the sand dunes or the gravel pit. What I learned on the Case was the feel of a shift gate and how to manage a clutch with my foot instead of more nimble fingers. I’ll miss it. I know I will. Just like I sometimes miss the old Sprint with its poorly supported side windows and laughable acceleration.
I’m overly sentimental, but for now I’m looking forward. I’ve put my name on a factory order to get a 2015 Subaru WRX. Sure I can joke that I’m looking forward to hypermiling with my new CVT, but this thing takes premium fuel. What I’m more likely to experience is the difficulty of explaining yet another speeding ticket to my wife and parole officer. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’s going to be a hell of a ride.