It was this Black Grand Prix that I had when I got married in December 1979. And to save money, sometime after we were married, it became our only car after my new wife sold her car. But I missed the day of having fun driving a stick and so a year after I had purchased the Grand Prix, we traded it in on a 1980 Honda Accord, with 5-speed transmission but no air conditioning. What was I thinking buying a car without air conditioning living in the south? No doubt, Mother Nature pointed out the foolishness of my ways as we had a heat wave in the summer of 1980 with 15 consecutive days of 100-degree highs and 54 days with highs above 90. But at least I had a stick shift again and as it turned out, an extremely reliable car.
Once we started our family and as soon as we had two children in car seats, it became extremely obvious that a two-door car of any kind, especially a two-seater sports car was not going to be practical. In fact, once our family expanded to three children, it seemed that the most practical vehicle would be a mini-van. We still needed two cars in our family so “my car” became the hand-me-down car. First the un-air conditioned Honda Accord and second, a four door Pontiac station wagon (another stick shift but at least with air conditioning).
In 1992, after numerous repair bills for the station wagon, it was time for me to get a new car of my own. My requirements in order of practicality were: 1) Four seats, 2) Manual transmission, 3) Cheap. If I could get a convertible that met all three requirements, that would be all the better. During my search, I distinctly recall going to the Mazda dealership to test drive a Protégé. While this car met all three requirements, it pained me just to drive past the row of new Miatas at the dealership that only met one of requirements—a manual transmission. The Miata was the car I really wanted; that was the car I had longed for ever since that magical weekend driving the TR-6 way back in college. But in spite of a brief irrational thought that maybe I could double buckle two children in its one passenger seat, it wasn’t a car that made sense for the time. So I settled on a 1992 Geo Tracker that in addition to meeting all three requirements had a removable top.
I used to refer to it as a “poor man’s convertible.” But it was fun. I remember I used to take the top off and drive some nearby windy country roads just to feel the air blowing through my hair with the radio loudly blasting songs by “Boston” or “Foreigner.”
For four years, this was my fun toy car. But it was missing something; it wasn’t the low to the ground, convertible sports car I dreamed of driving. So even though I was having fun in the Tracker, I couldn’t stop thinking how much more fun I would have if I were driving a Miata. This feeling was exacerbated when my brother who lived in Memphis at the time bought a beautiful blue/green Miata with tan leather interior. Now this was a car I could really get into.
So does the car story end here? See my previous post Magic! There you will find how memories from my childhood collided with my love for cars.