Today whilst browsing my Facebook feed in an effort to fill the smallest moment of downtime I had with a morsel of cognitive stimulation that only a funny cat video or dramatic new-job/new-spouse/new-baby announcement could offer, I came upon an adorable photo of a family and a minivan. It was an image that reminded me of why we’re all here at The Autopian: Because to us, cars have so much meaning beyond just their function as runabouts.
That’s the Ganeshan family you see in these photos, and the little four-year-old is Sagar. I know him because, a while back, he cold-emailed me to ask how he could become an automotive engineer. I gave him my phone number, and we chatted about things he (someone who was a little self-conscious about his grades, though I told him they were fine) could do to get that dream job in the auto industry. I knew he’d pull it off, because I could hear the passion in his voice, and he was clearly a smart dude; I’m pleased to hear that he has scored a job at a major OEM, and he did it all on his own by just being resourceful and by communicating his love for cars! Anyway, that’s not the point of the story. The point of this story is: Look at these photos!
The first one is from 2004, and shows Sagar and his parents, who traded in a 1993 Geo Prizm for that minivan, as they were expecting a second son. As you can see, that second son came, and sprouted up big and tall, just like Sagar, whom his father probably would not enjoy holding up like he did back in 2004. As for the Honda Odyssey: The thing looks fantastic after all these years!
“Bought brand new in sept 2004. I was crying when parents bought it because I wanted the EX trim with the power doors,” Sagar told me over Facebook Messenger. “Been reliable all these years. One time it stranded us was when starter broke,” he continued, saying his family has put over 150,000 miles on it with only that single significant issue.
I asked how it felt to finally let it go. “Bittersweet,” he said. “But the car wasn’t being driven at all these days and we had too many cars in the driveway. So a bit of relief.” He went on: “Def some fun memories in that thing. But it did its duty for 18 years. Only person it ever stranded was me .” Here’s a picture of that incident:
It was definitely a melancholy day when I traded in my first car. It was base model Sunfire (but manual!) so really nothing special, but the night I cleaned everything out I definitely got a bit choked up.
Huh, maybe that’s the difference between other car enthusiasts and me. I like cars because of their engineering, the problem solving aspects of building and repairing them and some of the cultural concepts associated with them. But I don’t get too attached to specific examples no matter how long I drive them or how much work I do to them. When they’re scrap or spare parts I regret losing an investment but that’s about it. When I have fond memories of a vehicle it’s usually of it’s usefulness, value or durability. I guess when I see people get so passionate about their likes and dislikes it shouldn’t be surprising to me since they feel so strongly about the subject.
Maybe you just haven’t met the right car yet? Don’t worry, just keep putting yourself out there, plenty of cars in the sea.
Felicity Ace :/
People sell their refrigerators?
As someone working in their dream job/industry where work is more fun than work, it’s awesome to read about people who worked hard and landed their dream job.
My family thinks I’m strange for so meticulously keeping up my 17 year old car, but I’d like to think it’ll be a future classic :p
I learned a fair amount of wrenching from holding the light for my dad, while swatting mosquitoes an him 🙂 to handing him wrenches and sockets once i could read the numbers….beetles, buses, square backs, and then the string of Volvo 145s, good times (now, then not so much) the biggest thing we did was an engine swap on a dodge van! Oh yeah and test drives and road trips.
It gave me confidence to try, and knowledge to recognize when it was just to much. I understand not everyone is into repairs or basic maintenance but it has kept me connected to my vehicles and sometimes my sanity
And back to the title, yeah I have taken before and after pics of a refrigerator, it was old and rusty, but running well, a coat of rustolem red turned it into a jewel of the very retro kitchen
People really need to stop thinking of there own situation. Yeah rich kid is given a new Mustang at 16 years old. Bitches about it wrecks it and demands a BMW. Versus a kid from a poor family works his ass off buys his first car a pos camry with rust and dents but he earned it is proud of it and he should be. A new young couple. Both drive shitboxes. Save for years have a kid buy their first brand new minivan to bring that new born home and transport safely. There are people here might laugh at them. But it is a huge milestone in a couples life.
There are times I truly feel sorry for rich entitled asses. They inherit everything, earn nothing, and will never feel the satisfaction of earning anything. That being said yes i am buying several Megamillion Lottery tickets.
That’s exactly how I feel about giving kids everything without them having to bust ass working for it. No sense of value. It’s the old entitled mentality. I had a friend whose uncle was a self-made millionaire back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Wanted to give his kids everything he never had. So he did. A more spoiled rotten bunch of selfish a******s you never met. And he was the nicest, down to earth guy ever.
Some might say there is nothing special about a faded brown 1984 Pontiac 6000 LE.
To me it’s a glorious piece of junk. It was my first car. I was the fourth or fifth owner of it in my family (Mom-brother-sisters (who rattle canned glittery silver moons and stars all over it)-me. I still have pictures of that car. I still have friends that remember it as fondly as I do, and friends I’ve forgotten who rode with us.
Rust in peace “Luxury Edition” my old pal.
Cars are special, period. Even my wife, who isn’t ‘into’ cars like I am, is sentimental about a few we’ve owned together.
Hell, I have more photos of cars I owned briefly than I do photos of our first home we lived in for a decade!
When I traded in one of my cars years ago, I was sad but excited for the new one. It was then that my (at the time) fiance understood why so many men (her opinion) give their wife their old car lol.
Its the personality that we love, cars (like bicycles) have a personality and appliances don’t. Well, usually…we once had a coffee maker that made whale noises and brewed more coffee than the water we put in, but as a general rule appliances don’t have personalities.
I started early with this. When I was 5 my parents parted ways with the 1950 Olds 88 that brought me home from the hospital. To do so they sent me off to stay with my oldest sister for a week. When I got back home and learned of what they’d done I cried for a day.
Moving on…in the late ‘oughts I had a 1995 GMC Safari. At the time I was into collecting old outboards and goofy fiberglass fin boats from the 50’s. Together we travelled to and through 16 states. When it finally gave up I was able drive it to the recycling yard. We sat together while I recounted the highlights of our time together.
When we talk about how deeply we get invested into our cars, and how they get so closely tied to our lives, it reminds me of the Corvette commercial where it says “they don’t write songs about Volvos”.
Having had 2 ‘Vettes, but no Volvos, I always assumed this to be true. Now I’m wondering if the Swedes ever wrote a song about their Volvo. Anyone…Anyone…. Bueller?
Suede once had a song with a great lyric “Does your love only come in a Volvo,” but that song was not at all about the car.
I have absolutely no doubt about that.
Ha, dunno about songs being written about Volvos but I do know I still miss my ’74 Volvo 144 greatly & regret ever getting rid of it; it was a blast to drive & served well as a car for me to learn wrenching on despite the inevitable mistakes & blunders I made as a novice shadetree mechanic. Apparently of all the cars in his eponymous Lane Motor Museum Jeff Lane’s 1974 Volvo 142 (ha, yeah, the two-door version of my car, GMTA & all that) is one of his all-time favorite cars to drive (& race.) Yeah, Corvettes *and* Volvos do have strong followings…
I still miss my Volvo 142, replaced in 1976 by an even more beloved white 1977 VW Rabbit named Thumper. Check out the Volvo 142 Song (in Swedish), with several performances available on YouTube.
This Swedish song is about a guy and his Volvo. Its a parody song the translates roughly to “Damn fucking Volvo”
NSFW warning, but Everclear’s ‘Volvo Driving Soccer Mom’ is an iconic anthem for any brick driver.
My mother, who has advanced Alzheimer’s, often will ask me where her 1971 BMW 2002Ti is parked. We sold that car 40 years ago, but it’s the one she remembers and misses.
I wonder if you could find a local club member who has one similar that they could drive by and park where she could see it. Might do a lot of good for her.
That’s a great car to remember, though.
I have never sold a refrigerator but it’s good to know that, when the time comes, this is expected to be a simpler process.
Yes, you won’t have to hire a photographer.
It’s not a requirement but I still can, though, right?
But people will call say they are coming to buy it and not show up and wont call to tell you.
Yes, that will absolutely happen. I sell all kinds of stuff, and people remain terrible no matter what you’re trying to sell.
No it isn’t. If you’ve never sold a refrigerator before, you’ll never find another refrigerator as good as the one you have now. New refrigerators are junk.
I was into vintage refrigerators before they were cool.
I traded in our 99 Grand Cherokee and Buick Century on my first new car. I took a picture of my 7yr old son standing between them at the lot the last time we saw them. That Buick was the one that brought him home from the hospital when he was born, the only family car he’d known, the one we’d had countless memorable experiences in, and the Jeep was Dad’s work truck and the fun car he got to ride in occasionally. It seemed wrong, like a betrayal, to trade them in on a stranger. I still feel things when I see that pic. Odd, that.
That was a nice piece, David. I am guilty of having pics of previous cars on my phone – which reminds me, I’m missing a few and will need to rectify that. 🙂
Side note: being something of a superannuated flatus, I remember when the Honda Odyssey was a go-kart type of thing like we see in this brochure: https://www.ebay.com/itm/362653173754
superannuated flatus… We need t-shirts of this. Of course the subannuatedin’s may not get it.
Ok, Boomer. =P
As you stated, this what the website is founded on. A love of cars and what they mean to us.
I see a beige people mover, that family saw a long time vehicle with special meaning. It is not the vehicle but the passion behind it.
This headline reminds me of Mercedes-Benz’s lovely “No one ever poses with their toaster” commercial.
Similarly, we bought a 2005 Honda Pilot EX-L the day we learned our son was coming home (he was a preemie, born at 25 weeks and 774 grams). It was a great vehicle for camping, road trips, skiing, etc, and was perfect when we had a second child three years later.
Over the years we put 300k on it, driving all over the US west on family trips. The Honda was super reliable, only ever needing a radiator, alternator, starter, and brakes (all stuff I could replace myself) outside of normal maintenance.
My son learned to drive in the car, and is still driving it today. We’ll finally retire the Pilot this spring, and get something more fuel efficient for college next year.
I would put brakes solidly into the normal maintenance category. They are very much a wear item. Only needing a radiator, alternator, and starter outside of normal maintenance over 300k miles is pretty dang impressive!
Somewhere, there’s a photo of us in our pullover Starter jackets standing in front of our parents’ brand new teal Lumina APV, not sure if that’s a good thing or not
Or me in my Members Only Jacket in front of my $50 AMC Javelin.
Only if the paint peeled off the Dustbuster fast enough to get redone under warranty.
As I recall, the only fault that one had was that the windshield wipers would occasionally just stop working and stay that way for days, then start functioning again. Dealer could never trace what was wrong, the fix was just to coat the windshield with Rain-X. GM’s paint was generally atrocious in that era, but somehow that one held up in that department.
This is great
There’s a fetish for every weirdo out there, but cars are clearly in a league of their own.
It’s often said that a car is the second biggest financial purchase after a home (that’s always debatable), but even for a layman who uses their car to go from A to B and even C, that’s exactly what makes cars special: the ability to give you freedom. Quick escapes. Efficiency in movement. And then add every other emotional element such as design and performance/handling which just adds another level for any enthusiast.
There are reasons I salivate over Alfas and dream of a GTV6, and not over Camrys and Corollas. But for hypothetical Linda, any reliable car gives her more freedom of movement and an ability to earn a (better) paycheck and carry her kids and all that. And what is worth more than freedom?
They’re a source of fellowship like few other possessions even have the chance to be.
You might collect model trains. You might restore hit’n’miss engines. You might play soccer. You might love to read. You might have any number of passions or hobbies. With very few exceptions you aren’t going to get stopped in the parking lot of some place and have a chance to discuss those hobbies; you aren’t going to have a chance to expand your circle with someone that likes some of the same things as you.
Not saying that any of those other hobbies are bad, not saying that you need to jump into cars with both feet (although if you’re reading this, you probably already have,) just saying that its a beautiful thing to be able to see someone in the weirdness that the world has become and be able to instantly connect with them on some level.
It’s interesting- a lot of the hobbies I’ve had over the years can be kind of gatekeepy- craft beer snobs who always want to question your knowledge or judge your preferences, or photography people who look down their nose at my equipment- I realized it’s made me approach hobby/fan groups cautiously. I was taken to a soccer match, for example, and when asked how I was enjoying it, I said I lacked the expertise to have an opinion, but was having fun.
I was not taught mechanical skills growing up and smile and nod politely at many of the more technical discussions here. I definitely feel like an imposter sometimes, and not a worthy gearhead. That’s probably why I landed here, because of in particular Jason’s approach- cars as art, the tactile feel of chewing on various rubber or vinyl bits, etc. There are so many ways to be an enthusiast. I keep reminding myself I don’t need to be able to rebuild an engine to appreciate things.
“I definitely feel like an imposter sometimes, and not a worthy gearhead”
Gearheads come in all shapes and sizes, interests, knowledge levels, and personalities. I view the gatekeeping as insecurity-based jackassery from people who should shut their word holes.
You are worthy as anyone else of being a gearhead. Go for it. 🙂
Cars can sadly be as “gatekeepy” a hobby as anything; it’s incumbent on us as enthusiasts to be a big, welcoming group, even to people who may like different vehicles than you, who may have come to their enthusiasm in a different way than you, who may look different, who may vote different, who may have different knowledge etc.
There’s already enough in this world that divides us.
Oh God you want to meet gatekeepy people hang out in DIY paint and body groups. While most are supportive there’s a hard core of “professionals” who crap on any and all but the most superlative efforts done by people working under a carport…if that.
Yeah except for the Porch snobs. That is how you spell it right?
excuse me, it’s parsh
I get you so much here goes over my head.
I know an engineer at an OEM who has been there 30 years and never even sat in one of the cars he’s worked on. He rides his bicycle to work and while he loves his job he doesn’t care about cars at all.
Knowledge isn’t linked to interest. I’d rather chat to someone who loves a car they know nothing about than someone with technical knowledge no enthusiasm.
The thing that makes me an enthusiast is that I love cars, and I loved them way before I could give boring lectures on camshaft heat treatments. Also no one wants to hear about camshaft heat treatments.
Old cars especially will introduce you to tons of people. I do joke that my MGB doesn’t attract women, it attracts old men.
I met a very good friend of mine because my 1952 John Deere tractor was running in the front yard and he stopped to talk about it.
It’s an old fallacy that cars attract women at all. Those that it does attract aren’t really interested in your car, but your money.
Hey now, cars can definitely attract women. I seem to have a thing for chicks in Subarus or riding old motorcycles. lol My wife drove an Impreza when we first met. 🙂
Joke’s on y’all, I’m *only* interested in the car.
My mom always joked (I think) that she married my dad for his MGA, and then got stuck with him when he sold it…
Oh hey Stef, cool to see you here.