Row, Row, Row Your Own

Here’s the thing

More times than I can count, when I meet someone who is a friend of my wife, parents, siblings, or coworkers, the conversation often starts like this:

“Hi, I’m Erik. It’s nice to meet you.”

“I’m (insert name I’ll forget immediately), nice to meet you too. So, I’ve heard you’re quite the car guy.”

I suppose I am a car guy. Actually, I consider it a compliment when someone calls me that.  The truth is I’m obsessed with all things automotive.

Sweet Celica Supra, even sweeter jams

Sweet Celica Supra, even sweeter jams

This obsession goes back as far as I can remember.  As a toddler, I laid on the hood of my mom’s Camaro and cried the day she sold it while we were waiting for the buyer to show up. I used to ride on my belly under the hatch of my uncle’s 1984 Corvette. For some reason no one thought that was unsafe back then.

I learned to drive in my father’s 1987 Grand Am. I learned to drive like an idiot in my friends’ cars. I was the 2nd youngest kid in my class and the last to get my license. My friends were cool enough to let me drive their cars before I turned 16 anyway.  When I graduated high school, I bought my first car that was all mine. It was a 1997 regular cab Ford F-150.  That truck wasn’t my first choice but my parents weren’t too keen on the idea of me getting a 1977 Trans Am with a 455. I should probably thank them for looking out for my safety but one has to keep up appearances and I constantly remind them how I will never forget that transgression.

After that, I bought my first sports car. It was a 2004 Acura RSX Type S. That thing felt like a go-kart after having the truck for 6 years.  To this day, I believe it’s the best car I’ve ever owned.  It was quick. It handled great. It looked good and it was reliable. It was killed by a moron with no driver’s license who wasn’t paying attention.  I can say without an ounce of doubt that stopped Acura RSX cannot survive being rear ended by a Mustang travelling 65 mph.

Not Guards Red

Not Guards Red

This is where practicality started to elude me.  I bought a 1983 Porsche 944. I was living in Missouri and the car was in Little Rock AR. It was a one owner car and the guy had kept every record of everything he’d ever done with it. That guy lived by one rule: If it makes a sound, it must need to go back to the Porsche dealership. He had over $40K in maintenance receipts. I agreed to buy it without seeing it and bought a one way plane ticket from St Louis to Little Rock.  His daughter picked me up in the 944, drove me back to her house where she handed me the title and sent me on my way. Looking back on the one way plane ticket, sight unseen auto purchase, I see that that plan had several flaws that could have very well lead to a story ending with my body in a ditch. That didn’t happen.  I drove it 6 hrs back to my house and loved every minute of it.

Soon after that, I moved to Houston and had to get rid of the Porsche. Air conditioners made for Germany don’t quite get it done in southeast Texas.  I was risking heat stroke 9 months out of the year every time I got in that car. Interesting fact: while the Porsche 944 handles like it’s on rails, it has no power. I think other cars actually steal its power in traffic sort of like those garbage Highlander movies. My next move would have to be a power move.

I bought a 2000 Trans Am WS6 that seemed to be in pretty good shape. It wasn’t. After numerous commonly known issues with that car including turning my hat backwards and making me drive like a dick, I sold it and bought a Tahoe.

The utility of the Tahoe was great but holy hell was it boring. Once I felt I’d purchased enough things that would only fit in a Tahoe, I put it on craigslist while I was just to see if there would be any interest. I had 10 phone calls in the first hour and immediately drove back to Houston where I sold the truck in the Bass Pro parking lot. When the guy sent me my plates back in the mail there was a note that said the serpentine belt had shredded itself the next day. As a compassionate person, I felt bad about that. As the seller: Sold as-is, dude!

Settle down. He was a mechanic and said it wasn’t a big deal and he fixed it that day.

I rode my motorcycle for a day or two and found a suitable replacement for the Tahoe: a 2002 Electron Blue Metallic Corvette.  It was perfect. It had low miles, tan leather, and of course, a 6 speed manual. One thing I must have in a car is a manual transmission. Yeah, I’m that guy. If a manual transmission is an option and someone chooses the automatic, I instantly hate that person. I’d rather take a homeless person as my date to an open bar company Christmas party than befriend someone who would willingly choose an automatic transmission.  The Tahoe was the only car I’ve ever owned that had a slushbox in it.  I drove that Corvette for a year and a half until someone fed the electrical gremlins after midnight one day.

This past January I traded the Vette in for a 2013 Ford Focus ST in Performance Blue. I love the Focus ST. According to every automotive website in the universe, the Focus ST is the best thing ever! Well, except for the Miata. That’s why I bought it. Also, I like the seats.  Now the Focus ST has a little brother in the Fiesta ST and all those websites are excited to meet the new baby. Half the legroom, twice the fun! Everyone knows the older brother is going to go to college and be successful while the younger one is going to end up smoking cigarettes by the dumpster in the back of the high school. Fiesta ST needs to get his act together. That’s what they’ll whisper in 10 years.

Why is this particular F430 so fast? It's a rental. That's why

Why is this particular F430 so fast? It’s a rental. That’s why

But I digress. I enjoy driving more than most anything else. I’ve driven everything from old column shifting Land Cruisers to F1 paddle shifting Ferraris. I’ll save those stories for later.