I’m A Tan Van Fan

Perhaps I’m uncool, or maybe I just appreciate function over form, but I’m super excited about my new minivan! We bought it last week after casually shopping for more months than I care to admit. It’s a 2004 Honda Odyssey….tan leather interior, fully loaded and only 72,000 miles. Okay, perhaps that not considered “new” to most people, but it’s pretty darn new for this family. Both the carseats fit, the radio works, and I can fill it full of Home Depot goodies…I’m in love :) And after sharing a car with my husband for a year it’s nice not to have to plan around each others schedules.

tan van
Honda van
family vehicle

Admiring my new fancy car made me think back on all of our past vehicles. Then I realized just how MANY we’ve owned. Between the two of us we’ve had eight cars and three motorcycles. That’s just in the ten years we’ve been driving…and we’ve been together since car one, so it’s not like one of us is more guilty than the other in the car exchanging department.

We’ve never owned particularly nice cars. We only pay cash for things, so that’s why. Plus, when you buy cars that are already depreciated, you can drive them for awhile and sell them for the same amount…or more even.  So, if you will, please join me for a trip down memory lane…car style.
Car number one: 1991 Honda Civic, bought in 2001.
(I know pictures of my civic exist, but I can’t seem to find one. Here’s a stock photo…)

car 1


This was my first car. It cost me 2600 big ones and I paid for it by myself. My parents aren’t the “buy you a car for your 16th birthday” kinda parents. Or the buy you a car at all kind. I was okay with that…. no really, I was. Not that I wasn’t a little envious of all the kids in high school in their parent financed cars, but I knew in the long that knowing the value of a dollar would do me good. And it has. Anyway, it’s a good thing I didn’t buy a nicer car, because I wrecked the crap out of it. I slid out on a back country road going home after cheerleading practice one day. I wasn’t speeding, I swear, but it was raining and I probably should have been going slower. I did a couple 360’s, went through a barb wire fence and hit a tree.
car 1 down
Looking at that picture your probably thinking “oh man, that car’s totaled!” Haha, not quite. Totaling a car is for people that can afford more than liability only insurance. The car still  drove like a champ, so there was no reason to junk it. My family’s pretty handy and resourceful (okay, we’re cheap) so we welded the door back on, replaced the broken windows with plexiglass and caulked the whole thing so it wouldn’t leak.
It still leaked.
Between the plexiglass windows and the broken motors on the other windows, none of them would roll down.
Did I mention that it didn’t have an air conditioner?
In case you didn’t know, I also live in South Texas.
I still loved my car. It ran like a champ and got great gas mileage. I never had to worry about door dings or washing it because it already looked like hell.
I’m going to move onto the next car now, but the story of the civic isn’t over…
Car two (Adams car one) 1974 VW beetle. Yellow. Bought in 2002 for $1700.
(I don’t know if any pictures of this car exist…but it looked like this, only less nice.)
car 2
This was Adams first car. My description of this car is going to be totally different than what he would write, because he thought it was awesome and I hated it. Why did I hate it?  1) It was rattly and tiny and I didn’t feel safe in it. 2) It had a gaping hole in the floorboard where the passengers feet should go. 3) The starter didn’t work, so anytime he would leave my house I had to push it down my parents driveway with him in it. I think I only rode in it twice the whole time we were dating. We always took my car when we went out, cause it was nicer. That should tell  you something.
I remember the first time I saw this car. It was before Adam and I were dating…actually it was before I even knew Adam existed. I was sitting in traffic on my way off campus and in the nearby parking lot there was a yellow beetle doing donuts. Suddenly it came sliding out and cut me off, spraying my car with gravel. Not that it mattered, cause my car was held together with caulk….but I’m pretty sure I called him some choice words. It’s a good thing I got to know him before I realized he was the guy that drove the beetle…
Car Three: 1990 Oldsmobile, bought in 2003 for $1000.
I have lots of pictures of this car, but they all look something like this…
car 3
This is where the car flipping gets tricky.
This was my Grandmas car. When she died I bought it from our family. Except that Adam paid the $1000, and I got the car. Then I gave Adam my Civic, and he gave his Beetle (that he was tired of fixing and push starting) to his cousin. Got it?
Anyway, we called this car Wanda, my Grandma’s name. It’s the only car we’ve ever named..not that we haven’t tried to name other cars, but they never stuck. It was in great shape when we bought it and was super comfy. You know, like a grandma car. This was the car that got “Just Married” written across the back of it. It got driven across the country many, many times with us living in being military in upstate New York and all of our family being in Texas. We generally didn’t take great care of it and sold it in 2006 for $1200.
Car  four: 1996 Ford Ranger, bought for $2500 in 2004.
car 4
Here comes some more car flipping.
After driving the Civic for awhile, Adam decided he need a truck and sold the civic for $500.
We actually didn’t own this truck for very long, he bought it right before we got married and sold it just before he left for basic training, so less than a year. We sold it to my brother for $2000, it was his first car. We could of made money on it, but who wants to make money off their own brother? I do believe he made a profit when he sold it though. Anytime Adam or my brother talk about the Ranger they say how it was slow as poo and had zero pickup. I guess that means poo is really really slow.
Car Five: 2001 Subaru Forester, bought for $7900 in 2006.
car 5
So new…and expensive! Soon after arriving in New York, we decided that a four wheel drive car was needed. Why? Because this is frequently what we saw out of our windshield while going about our daily lives…
New York roads
Also Wanda’s heater didn’t really work and it was a pain to defrost, so we spent an awful lot of time doing this…
why you need defrosters
 I bought the Subaru from a dealership in San Antonio while Adam was in Afghanistan and drove it back to New York. Talked them  down from $9000 and was pretty proud of that. It was a beast in the snow and everyting was heated…seats, mirrors, even the windshield wipers. Sooo nice. When Elijah was born we quickely discoverd that despite being a small SUV, the carseat didn’t fit. we stuffed it in the middle row and it stuck throught the front seats. We sold it for $5500 the week before Adam got out of the Army, which was last year (2010).
Car six: 1993 Saturn SL2 bought for $1200 in 2006.
car 6
When Adam got back from Afghanistan we needed a second car and bought this from a friend. We really didn’t expect too much from this car… it was old, tiny and made of plastic. Plus it was a Saturn…not that Saturn has a terrible reputation, but it doesn’t have a good one either.
This car surpassed our expectations by a long shot. We never had to fix it and it never left us stranded. Even when we left it frozen in a military parking lot for a year while Adam was in Iraq, it started right up. And it got great gas mileage to boot, about 40 mpg, sometimes more. We sold it at the same time as the Subaru for $900.That brings us to our most current car..
1999 VW Passat Wagon bought for $3400 in 2010.

car 7

After selling the Subaru and Saturn last year we moved back to Texas and needed a car ASAP. We bought the Passat and it has treated us well. It’s our fourth standard (the Beetle, Ranger and Saturn were standard) but it is the first one that I had to drive. I’ve been fighting having to learn to drive standard since I was 16.  People have tried to teach me on about 1,000 different occasions, but I never got it. Truth is it terrified me.  Driving in general kinda makes me nervous…not that I’m weird about it, but I’m probably the slowest driving 26 year old out there. Anyway, I finally was forced to learn standard. My husband and family (standard enthusiasts) were thrilled. Me, not so much. Everyone has always told me “just drive it for a day and you’ll feel totally at home in it.” Nope, It took me nearly a month of driving around the neighborhood to get out on the highway. I’ve been driving it for over a year now and my heart still beats a little fast when I’m on a hill with a car behind me. I’m glad I learned how to drive it, and I’m glad I don’t have to anymore.

Then comes the three motorcycles, though I’m not going to go into depth about them…

1970-something Honda CB 200, bought and sold for $900. S.L.O.W…and broken a lot.

motorcycle 1
2005 Yamaha FZ6, bought for $3100 and sold for $3600 (11,000 miles later!)
motorcycle 2
Current bike: 2005 Suzuki V-Strom 1000, bought for $4600.
motorcycle 3
And that, my friends, is more than you ever wanted to know about the fleet of (mostly crappy) vehicles we’ve owned. Anyone else have crappy car stories? I know you do…please share!

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  1. OMG! My first car was a 1993 Saturn SL2! A silver one named Magdalena. It was a great car. I bought it in 1996 and sold it in 2003 to two of three members of the Australian (but Austin-based) band The Green Cards. They were super-excited that the AC, moon roof, and tape player all worked. (I can't imagine what they were driving before….)

  2. I found this post humors! Thanks for the giggles. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and have had 6 vehicles, so I can totally relate!
    My parents rule growing up was that us girls (me and my 3 sisters) needed to learn how to drive a standard, before we were allowed to get our license. Not PA laws, but daddy laws. His reasoning behind it was that God forbid there was ever an emergency and the only vehicle around was a standard, his girls were going to be ok. I'm so glad that he did, becuse it's what I prefer to drive. Only 2 out of our 6 vehicles were automatic, and if I could have had my grand cherokees is standards I def. would. You'll get more comfortable with it. I've been driving them for 13 years now. I get a little high every time I get in the hubbys 5 speed alero, still to this day!
    And besides… girls that can drive standards are hot =) Haha, hopefully that made you smile.
    Congrats on your new purchase =) It's awesome that you two pay cash for what you have.

  3. Congrats on the new van!

    I've had a number of doozies in my day. LOL

    My first car was a VW Rabbit that lasted about 2 weeks. My second was pretty exciting…a Pontiac 1000 (think Chevette) that was an old ladies car that just got driven to the grocery basically. The only downside was it only an AM radio…so a couple months after my parents got it for me my dad put in a new stereo!! Unfortunately, my dad did something wrong and on my first drive after the new stereo….it caught fire and the entire car burnt to the ground!

    We lived in the country, so finding a house close to the road, without a dog, that could hear me yelling to call 911 took a bit…the car was gone by the time a fire truck got out there.

    Then I got to use my dad's Yugo…do you even know what that was? LOL A disposable car…really cool. NOT!

    Then the 1980-something Camero that looked cool….but backfired so bad that every time I took off from a red light it sounded like fires were being shot.

    The Ford Ranger that was hauled home by AAA more than it actually drove home.

    Hmmm, I'm sure there were others, but those were my biggest dumps for sure. :)

  4. We had two burgundy vans among our many vehicles over the years, and once my youngest son was trying to tell a story that featured one of them. I asked which of the burgundy vans he was talking about and he said, “You know, the one with the bullet holes.” What?? Turns out he was talking about the RUST holes!! We got a kick out of imagining our (ordinary) family careening through a hail of machine gun fire (there were a lot of rust holes!) :)

  5. Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it! I love the 2005 suzuki bike you had, I really want that style of bike. I always buy used as well, it is way more cost effective. Have you had any issues with switching insurance between all of the used cars?

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