The car that made me hate the color gray.
This was my first car. The first car that I could truly call my own. I don’t have any pictures of it, because I never bothered to save them. It was so… plain. It blended in so well and was so utterly dull that I’m struggling to write about it. Well… That isn’t exactly true. This car taught me a few valuable lessons about Craigslist, engine swaps, and the reputations of certain car brands.
In the beginning, my step father gave me his 1978 Chevrolet C-10 Custom when my Mom and I moved to Texas from New Mexico. It was not near as nice as the picture above! It was a single cab, long bed, painted plain white. It had a little bit of rust in the floorboards, and was generally knocked about. It used to belong to a farmer, who wanted the most basic truck he could find, with the few luxuries he thought would be practical. It had a 305 V8, three speed automatic, and an AM radio. The carb needed to be rebuilt and it had a mind of its own. I decided to call the truck Mack. A good old name for a good old truck.
It would take 20 minutes to start because one had to pump the gas pedal and turn the kept until the planets aligned just right and by some divine force, Mack would cough to life like an old man getting up in the morning. Being 16, and the layabout that I was, I assumed old Mack would stick around until I got around to addressing his many, many problems. In truth, because I never worked on him, and rust was starting to pop holes in the floor, it was sold to a newlywed couple for one thousand dollars who desperately needed a car. Looking back… it wasn’t the greatest or safest vehicle to be given to a new driver, but not a day goes by that I don’t kick myself for not taking care of him. That’s why I do my damnedest to take care of my current classic car.
Anyway, back to the COAL:
The internet can be a wonderful thing. However, it can also be a place of absolute dick pistons. I sold a plot of land my late grandfather had left me for the princely sum of $2000, and wanted to use that to find my first real car. No matter what I felt about the truck, it was never truly mine, having never taken responsibility for him. I continued this trend by not taking the search as seriously as I should have. That prompted my parents to bite the bullet and ask if they could find one for me. I said yes, having other more important things to deal with at the time to a teenager, like eking out an existence in my new high school in a town that didn’t truly feel like home.
Soon enough, I found a gray 2000 Honda Accord sitting in the driveway that had been found on Craigslist. I had never been so underwhelmed in my life up to that point. It needed major transmission work, because every time you came to a stop, the car would buck like a horse had kicked it. When we finally managed to get the car to the shop, the man was amazed it had made it in, the transmission was so ragged out.
The interior was comfortable, but totally awash in gray plastic. The cloth seats were gray and plain, the dash was a swoopy mass of gray on darker gray… Did I mention it was GRAY? I was working at Whataburger at the time and driving the car was a soul sucking experience, unlike Mack. Yes, driving that dinosaur was borderline insane, but at least I had a connection with it. My first car felt like a prison, and deep down, I knew it was all my fault. I would’ve found a great classic, but here I was, stuck in this perfect flat line of a vehicle. That was until my first oil change…
We discovered that the oil filter we bought (that would’ve fit the stock engine) wasn’t going to fit this one because the car was originally sold in California, and at some point, had an engine swap. The new engine was an F22A1. It looked very similar to the stock Honda engine, but made more power. This proved problematic for a car that was already falling apart. Thankfully, each time the car needed a massive repair (which was often) my step Dad would loan me the money to get it fixed. This included a $300 oxygen sensor that had to be special ordered. The ECU never worked right and after spending about $5000 over the course of the year I owned it just to keep it running… It was decided to finally sell it. It took until I was 18 to fully pay him back for all the debt the Accord had piled up. It was certainly a learning experience! A brand does not a car make!
This, of course led me to the subject of my first article I did for CC, a 2008 Kia Rio.