Me and My Cars

I was a Honda guy and drove six different Honda's between 1978 (yes, I was born in 1960) and 1994. How comes? My Dad was an Audi guy driving a NSU Prinz, the NSU 1000C and all iterations of the Audi 80. So is my older brother, first car an Audi 50, working up the Audi ladder and today, in 2012, driving the latest A5.

1976 - Dream Car #1: I still remember the German technology magazine "Hobby" featuring a test drive of the first generation Honda Accord Hatchback and I fell immediately in love with that car. A few weeks later a new Honda dealership was opening just two miles away from our home and I rode my bike to meet Mr. Putzlacher, the business owner. He treated me like an adult person and even drove with me around the block. The car wasn't that good but I liked the attitude of the owner and made myself - and him - a promise: My first car will be a Honda. Period.

1978 - Car #1: I got my drivers license in 1978 and bought --- a Honda Civic (first generation). To be honest, it was an awful car! A tiny 1.2l engine with just 52 hp coupled to a 2-speed automatic transmission. Good news: My Dad borrowed the car on a Sunday for a trip to Karlsruhe (it was very fuel efficient) and a Dutch gentleman rear-ended the Civic. The little Honda looked like a banana and thanks god, no one was hurt.

1980 - Car #2: I replaced my first generation Honda Civic with a second generation Honda Civic. It was larger, looked more masculine and had even a stronger engine. Was it a good car? Not really. Was it reliable? Not really and I started to doubt about my promise to Honda. But four years later Honda introduced the third generation of the Civic and it was an eye catcher. I was instantly in the "must have" mode.

1984 - Car #3: It looked good, drove good and had an unbelievable fuel economy of 50 mpg and even higher on some trips. Now I'm really into Honda - 8 years after my promise in 1976. But Honda wasn't into me, within a few months an idiot of a teenager girl tried to pass me on a wet road with her Mom's BMW. She hit the kick-down in a wide left turn and crashed into my left side, the Honda twisted a few times and crashed in the safety barrier. Total loss, no one hurt.

1984 - Car #4: The insurance company replaced my Civic and instead a red one I drove now a silver one. Still a great car. A few years later, in 1986, Honda introduced the third generation of the Honda Accord and it was available as a shooting-brake a.k.a. Honda Aerodeck. Dream Car Alert!

1988 - Dream Car #2 and Car #5: It cost DM 35,000, a lot of money for a Japanese car in 1986. That money bought easily an Audi 80 or BMW 3-series. But look at these eyes...

1990 - Car #6: Just two and a half year with the Aerodeck and I got a job offer from a Swiss company. Cars are expensive in Switzerland and the Aerodeck was not really a family car. So I bought the most boring Honda of my life, the forth generation Honda Accord Sedan. In boring gray metallic color. Was it a good car? Yes, a perfect car for long trips on high ways. Was it a reliable car? No! It broke the day before we moved back to Germany and I knew that this would be my last Honda.

1992 - Car #7: Two kids - we needed a car for my wife. Small, affordable and an automatic transmission. Guess what, only a few cars fitted these criteria in 1992. We opted for the Renault Clio 1.4RT, our first French car. French car translates usually to: Smooth and easy to ride, but loves the shop, too.

1994 - Car #8: Barbara was pregnant with our third child and I finally had a reason to drop the Honda Accord Sedan. I wanted badly the Volvo 850 Station wagon, my wife wanted everything but the Volvo 850 and we ended up in a Renault Espace. Designed and built by Matra, the inventors of the lemon car guarantee. Yes, you know that you buy a lemon and so it was. The transmission broke on a vacation trip... Later more.

1994 - Car #9: The Clio was too small for my wife and she drove most time the Espace. Me and a Renault Clio! Well, on a business trip to Freiburg a nice gentleman used the Clio standing at the end of a traffic jam on the Autobahn A5 for the last 3 feet to stop his car. Banana, again! Single income, family of five - I was looking for a safer car with a nice trunk as crash zone and found the Renault Laguna RT. An astonishing good car! But not reliable, the water pump broke on a business trip to Munich.

1996 - Car #10: The tranny of the Renault Espace broke in Bitburg and we made it to the local Renault dealership, right across from one of the largest Toyota dealers in Germany. While waiting for the cost estimate for the Espace we ended up in test driving the Toyota Previa. And signed a lease for it after we learned about the repair costs for our Renault Espace.

2000 - Dream Car #3 and Car #11: I always wanted the Land Rover Discovery. Okay, not always - it was introduced in 1989. I saw the Disco the first time on a nice trip to Munich with my wife Barbara and couldn't resist to talk her into buying one. Too expensive, too tall, too English, too snobbish, too everything. But she had a killer argument, too: The seats in the third row are facing inwards (kids would vomit) and only equipped with 2-point seat belts (kids would die). But dreams are meant to live on and in 1999 Land Rover promised the Discovery II, stretched a few inches to accommodate a front facing third-row with 3-point seat belts. Yes, I ordered mine on Day one of it's introduction in Germany. And we all loved it.

2002 - Car #12: A Land Rover Discovery seating seven and a Toyota Previa seating six made not really sense and we sold the latter for a new Toyota Corolla Verso. Just a perfect car.

2006 - Car #13: Our Great Adventure - moving to Rochester in Upstate New York. Barbara always loved the PT Cruiser and it was a no brainer. Was it a good car? At least it looked good.

2006 - Car #14: How do you replace a Land Rover Discovery II? With a Disco III? No, I didn't like the successor of my beloved second-generation Disco and was looking into the Toyota 4Runner (Dad, the rear bench is a joke!), the Chrysler Pacifica (Dad, the rear bench is a joke!), the Chevy Tahoe (Joerg, are you going crazy?) and ended up in a Ford Explorer. A very good car, just a little thirsty and gas priced went North of $4 in 2008. Time to say goodbye, but I'm now a Ford guy. Not a single issue with the Explorer on 80,000 miles in three years. Sixteen years with Honda, twelve years with various brands and the next couple years with Ford. It's that easy.

2009 - Car #15: Do I need a Ford Explorer with the kids moving out, me traveling more than expected and gas at $4 and even more? No, this Ford Fusion 2010 is just a perfect car. By today the Fusion is 3 years old and averaged 29 mpg over 80,000 miles without a single fault. Okay, we had to replace the rear right directional light a few months ago.

2011 - Car #16: Five years with the PT Cruiser and we learned about the differences between a Chrysler and a Ford. And with this new Ford Fiesta 2011 we traded 25 mpg for 40 mpg.

2012 - Dream Car #4 and Car #17: Just do the math! A dream car once in every twelve years and always five down-to-earth cars between. It's a V8, it's a convertible and it's probably a good invest.

2013 - Car #18: Best complement to a V8 with 3.9l displacement? A Ford C-MAX Hybrid with a mileage of 3.9l per 100 kilometres.

2014 - Dream Car #5 and Car #19: Okay, I broke my own rules. You might me call now a car collector.

2015 - Car #20: With my first granddaughter Ella born on September 9, 2015 it's time for a SUV.

2016 - Car #21: Bye bye, Black Widow. Welcome Magneto.

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Joerg Woerner, May 26, 2012. No reprints without written permission.