Two cars ago –
I have owned four cars in my life. Many who read this are probably aware, because I just bought it months ago, that I currently drive a 2009 Honda Fit Sport in the most fantastic automobile color ever devised, Orange Revolution Metallic. Some may also know that said Fit is named Copernicus, and is so named because Honda Fits kinda sorta look like Star Trek shuttlecraft, and I decided to name this one after one of the shuttlecraft from the Enterprise (pick one; one thing all of the various Enterprises (NCC-1701, NCC-1701-A, and NCC-1701D) have in common is that two of their shuttlecraft are named Copernicus and Galileo). Many other readers are probably also aware that my first two cars were first-generation Toyota Camrys (one, a tan 1984 hatchback, the other, a blue 1986 sedan) and that I loved them dearly, because the first-gen Camry is a truly amazing vehicle. In fact, the first one remains my favorite car. If I had to rank my four cars in order of favoriteness, it would go something like this:
1. tan 1984 Toyota Camry LE hatchback (“Petey”)
2. orange 2009 Honda Fit Sport (“Copernicus”)
3. blue 1986 Toyota Camry LE (“Cameron”)
5. red 1998 Ford Taurus GL (“Bismarck”)
Yes, the Taurus wasn’t even good enough to make #4 in a list of four cars. What an awful purchase that was.
So, Cameron was a nice solid car and I liked him a great deal. I learned how to change an alternator on Cameron, because I had to replace it three times! (Hooray for refurbished alternators?) I did all kinds of tinkering and not-really legitimate repairs on Cameron, like when the pipe leading from the middle of the exhaust to the muffler rusted out, leaving a muffler hanging there not connected to any other pipe, and a pipe that was unconnected to anything else at all really and therefore dragged on the ground in a loud cacophony of metal and pavement. I “repaired” this until I could afford to actually get a new pipe by holding it up with bungee cords that I had to attach to the seat frames, which are of course inside the car, so there were bungee cords coming out of the bottom of my front doors. Also, realizing that exhaust pipes get hot and that this temperature might exceed the flashpoint of bungee cords, I found a piece of chain hanging out in my basement, cut off a couple of feet of it, and connected the bungee cords to each end of it. This proved to be especially great because the chain is made of non-contiguous pieces of metal with a huge amount of surface area (i.e. rings filled with air), so the heat couldn’t possibly transfer all the way to the bungee cords. It still bounced a little (because, you know, bungee cords), but the pipe only hit the ground on really big bumps. Mission accomplished.
… two cars ago (being Cameron), I discovered something neat as I pulled into the driveway of my small “apartment complex” (two buildings with about 12 apartments between them, and two other houses on the same “street” which was really a driveway). A couple of friends were getting out of their car, so I honked at them. On my stereo was Death Cab For Cutie’s “Scientist Studies”, which ends with a nice noisy, feedbacky guitar part. My horn blasted out in key with the song in the most incredible way. I screamed to my friends to come check it out, and they did, and they too thought it was way cool. Cameron’s horn wasn’t 100% perfect and the pitch slowly fluctuated just a tiny bit, much like an opera singer’s vibrato but not nearly as fast, if you held it on for more than the normal instantaneous honk on the street when some jerkwad cuts you off. It fit into the song gloriously. Any time I listened to that song in Cameron after that, I always honked the horn along with it for a few seconds, no matter where I was.
I miss that.