Set the Controls For 1998! Which of These Rides Would You Rock?

Let’s turn back the clock as we like to do here at Curbside Classic. It’s 1998 and you’re a junior in high school. Which of these rides would you rock?

I remember this photo, and on this day, like so many others, my buddies and I would head over to the Y’Not Burger in Torrance and BS about school, girls, cars, and teen miscellanea. We’d spend hours there, ogling the Pennysaver classifieds and Auto Trader ads, wolfing down greasy burgers and fries, and chugging gallons and gallons of free refills.

Each of these cars met its inevitable end, but for one fine moment, much like a tight-knit circle of friends that blossoms before the vagaries of life cause the inevitable drifting apart, here they are, captured and sealed into a moment in time that I recall fondly and vividly.

Would you take Joel’s ’95 Blobstang? At 6’3″, we always wondered how he managed to fit into it. He called it “Ares”, and it met its end four or five years after this photo when a drunk t-boned it and ran away from the scene on foot. The ‘stang was totaled, but Joel never got over it, buying a Gen1 Retrostang in the same color years later and naming it “Ares II”.

Or maybe you’d like my ’95 Firebird? Only three years old at the time, it suffered from a slipping transmission, and in the rain, it was like a hockey puck, but hey, it never rains in Southern California, right?  That car was an accident magnet, and was hit into by other people more times than any other vehicle I’ve ever had. Four years after the photo, a freshly sprung convict in my apartment complex would steal the T-tops, and by the time I found a new set and sold the car two years after that, it reeked of mildew. One day I’ll do a proper writeup on that car, but suffice it to say that it suffered from many of the GM maladies of the ’90s. Still, it was fleet, and quite the looker!

Steve’s Taurus was a family hand-me-down. An ’86, it still looked great in ’98, and with the most mechanical prowess of the group, Steve kept it running well. I recall that you could take the key right out of the ignition while the car was in motion, and it would just keep cruising. I think its engine blew up basically right across the street from the high school within a year of this photo. It was the second hand-me-down Steve managed to kill. His first car, an ’82 LeSabre lost a battle with a streetlight a few blocks away from where the Taurus met its end if I recall correctly.

Akshay’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was a ’93, I believe. It was actually on loan from his father that day, and it became his a couple of years later. It was a flossy ride, complete with fog lights and the leather package. It outlasted most of the other cars here.

Jason’s Explorer was also a loan from his parents that would eventually become his. He regularly drove an ’89 Nissan Maxima, and I’m not sure why he had the Explorer that day. A 5 speed strippo, it was purchased that year (’98) for his mother, and given the Firestone rollover fiasco and overproduction, dealers were giving these away: I believe they got it out-the-door for a meager $17k or so. He would later take it to college in Arizona, and last I looked at Carfax a few years ago, it was still there, but had not been driven much since.

It blows my mind that this photo was 20 years ago. The cars are gone, and some of these old buddies have drifted away, but in the photo, I see five young guys, proud of their rides and their friendship, and that’s the way I’d like to remember us.

Which car would you fancy?