My Rust Bucket List

I sold my 1992 BMW 316 today. While I’m happy it found a good new owner and glad that I now have a better car to call my own, I can’t help but reminisce a little about the good times with the Bimmer. It was built like a rock and always made it back no matter how long the drive home was. This also got me thinking back to all my cars till now so here’s a short story of my automotive adventures.

1971 Plymouth Valiant

Some time back in ’95 or ’96 my dad brought home this boat of a car. I didn’t really appreciate it till many years later, but I sure miss that thing a lot. Slant six, 225, four barrel carbs, with 3 speed automatic on the column, no power steering (we took it out as it was useless anyway), with room for six inside and a body trunk for at least three more. My dad restored that car from the ground up and while it was never worth as much money as the restoration cost, it was a great looking ride and my first every day car. I was 17 when I started driving it to high school, was 18 when I took it to prom instead of a limo, and drove it well past college. I loved playing classic rock in it and often received compliments on the street; once while bringing home 8 cement bags in the trunk (heavy!) I got a nod from some cholo’s passing me in a low rider. Had they only known that my car was riding low for a completely different reason… We sold it as it wasn’t the most economical car to have, with a 4.0 liter engine and all, plus by then I had another car already.

And yes, that is my mom with our family Valiant.

1972 Datsun 240z

We bought the Z with restoration in mind. It was a very sweet two seater with an inline 6, manual 4-speed transmission that tore the asphalt it rode on. I learned how to drive a stick shift on it and received my first speeding ticket in it as well. The restoration never really went as planned and my dad did most of the work on this father-son project. Somewhere along the line I lost interest in it and simply wanted a car to drive as opposed to driving a car that always needed more work. We had it painted, reupholstered, my dad converted all the gauges to white faces with a nice green glow at night, original rims were repainted, but the engine was mostly untouched till the end. All new rubbers made it very stable but the exhaust fumes that somehow pushed their way inside the car made it a smelly pain to drive. I later found out that it’s a common problem with the 240z, that the only way to drive was really to seal it completely and drive with everything closed. I sold it a month before moving back to Poland to a kid who would continue the restoration who also had a 240z in the past.

2002 Toyota 4Runner

It was a Thanksgiving eve back in 2005 when my dad said he would help me sponsor a car, any car, as long as it was a Toyota 4Runner. That’s because of my mom’s 1998 4Runner that has proven to be one of the best cars we ever had. We bought mine that Thanksgiving weekend. 2002 is the last model of the 3rd generation body style, with six cylinders and a 3.4liter engine. This was my first modern car with electric everything, air conditioning, and the one thing I loved the most, a retracting back window! I put that car through its 2wd paces on the road and in the Sierra Nevada mountains on various camping trips. It served me well as a tent where I almost fit with the back seats folded. I planned to sell it before my move to Poland but gave it back to my dad instead and it now awaits him in Wrocław.

1992 BMW 316

In another deal with my dad I traded the 4Runner for a more economical BMW in Poland. Oddly enough the bimmer doesn’t really burn a whole lot less petrol (gas) than the 4Runner. In fact, for a 1.6 liter it has an enormous appetite for fuel. While a 10 year step backward in my car adventures, it served me well for what it was supposed to do; get me from point A to B. In between those points it also got us through Chech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and all of Poland of course. It also did quite a bit of work for my dad during his house construction a couple of years ago  and it never got stuck in the dirt road that served as a street during a 4 year construction project in our Polish neighborhood. I did get a little tired though of investing money into repairs I felt were worth more than the car itself. It works fine now and will serve its next owner well.

2004 Mazda 6

Finally I am happy to report on my newest car yet, my new (old) Mazda 6. Four cylinders, 1.8liter gas engine, 5-speed manual, auto and electric everything including my very first climate control system with ice cold air conditioning! For the money it was the best looking wagon I could find and I’m liking the way it looks more and more with every drive. I’m hoping it will last me for years to come. This is also the very first car I bought all alone. I had no idea my hands would shake this much while handing over cash for what I hoped was a good car. The stress of buying a car is unbelievable, and even driving back in what was already mine for better or worse, I couldn’t stop thinking if I had made the right choice. Everyone tells me I did, so it must be true.

So what does your list look like? Feel free to share in the comments section!

76 thoughts on “My Rust Bucket List

  1. Fun trip down car-memory lane!

    My parents drove me to school in a Pinto — scarred me for life. But I’ll never forget the day my dad came home with a metallic blue Datsun Z…I’ve never squeezed him so hard in my life, for that car represented the resurrection of my school social life…

    🙂

  2. As a car person, I think you’ve had some pretty sweet rides over the years! The BMW is my favorite. The 316 was and is a great car. Handles fantastically and has decent power to weight ratio! Maybe I’m a little biased- I got a 2011 BMW 335i this year and am in love with it. The new-to-you Mazda will treat you well- and is very practical!

  3. Nice history. I think the most beautiful car my familiy ever had was my mom’s midnight blue 1980 Monte Carlo. Lovely, but not very practical. My current ride is a 1997 Olds with more options than I really need. Nevertheless, I like the car and feel lucky to have it.

  4. Thanks for the trip down your family’s historical memory lane motorcade. Isn’t how funny how every car has a story? I am just freakin’ glad they can’t talk. Awkward.

    Have a great day!

    Mr. Bricks

  5. Nice review, it’s hard not to remember our cars. My first car was a red Ford Pinto that everyone made fun of but I loved that car. I was 16, it was in mint condition and I kept it clean, it was cheap to run and like your Valiant was bare bones, no power brakes or steering and crank windows, an AM radio and no AC. The only option it had was the three speed automatic. Thanks for sharing. Check out my blog at http://www.detailjournal.wordpress.com

  6. I loved all my old cars. The windows never failed to roll up with your hand. They never suffered computer failure. You had an ampmeter, oil pressure gauge, temp guage besides. You had all the room in the world under the hood and could do just about all your own work on them without going to a technical school, or calling for a mechanic.
    1935 Standard Ten, 1941 Chev. 1940 Ford Prefect. Rover 90 ( forgotten her age). Riley (Twin Carb). Ford Consul, Austin Mini, there were others I have forgotten. They were all second hand and much loved, and faithful, and I didn’t get killed or wreck any of them, or allow myself to get hit.

  7. Great story! I’ve been thinking about doing a similar bit myself but haven’t had the time to dig up the old photos. Do you name your cars? My Acuras’ names are Yoko and Mitsumi.

  8. Nice story and I like the 1971 Plymouth Valiant it reminded me of the dart swinger I had back in the 80’s It was my first car when I got married. It was a 1971. Later on I got another dart swinger and this was a classical 83 and I had it for a while until I got rid of it. Nice cars. Great story.. God bless.

  9. This is a great post! I especially love the Datsun. I always dreamed of having a Z. When I was a kid, my mom had a Carolina blue Pinto station wagon with wood paneling and blue vinyl seats that nearly scorched the flesh off my legs in summer. My dad also owned a body shop, so when I turned 16, he bought me a wrecked 1980-something Dodge Daytona that I had to help fix. It was pretty rough.

  10. Great list!

    My first car was a 1987 Honda Accord named Charlie, that I bought from my grandfather. That car was a beast. I treated it like crap, and it never left me stranded. I worked on a farm, and one morning, it rained while we were working in the field. When we went to drive away our vehicles, which were parked in a field that had been turned to mud by the rain, Charlie plowed right through it, while my co-worker’s Chevy pickup with 4WD had to be rescued by a tractor.

    I traded Charlie for a 1999 Honda Civic EX two-door. It started with an innocent window tinting, and then it mushroomed into lowering it, adding huge disc brakes and lo-pro tires on aftermarket rims, among other things. A customized car is fun to look at, but a pain in the butt to actually own.

    Eventually I traded it for my first brand new car, a 2007 Honda Civic EX, that has 94,000 miles on it, is still 100 percent stock and still 100 percent fun to drive — and very easy to own!

  11. Ahh Car Memories. My favorite car growing up was my 1984 Buick Regal with a lift kit and mother of pearl Buick hubcaps. I now drive a Ford Ranger and love how it handles. Thanks for sharing – Congrats on being FP!

  12. OMG a freakin Plymouth Valiant. I had a Dart. Those cars were beaters the second they got off the dealer’s lot, and continue to run like shit long after you want them to fall apart and die.

    Did those cars come in ANY color other than Baby Shit Tan and Baby Shit Gold?

  13. I am totally jealous of your Valiant!

    In order: 1986: ’75 Ford Pinto, 1988: ’83 Renault Alliance, 1989: ’89 Chevy Beretta (purchased new), 1998: ’96 Mercury Sable wagon, 2000: ’98 Toyota Sienna, 2005: ’03 Toyota Matrix, 2009: ’03 Toyota Matrix XRS.

    Favorites: The Pinto and the Beretta. Most hated: The Sable and the Sienna.

  14. One of my first car memories was seeing my dad drive our 1987 red Poniac Bonneville off the lot. Right then and there I decided I wanted a red car, but then later added some conditions: grey interior (shows less dirt), cute round headlights, and less of a tendency to rust out. My first car was a 1997 Ford Tarus, and amazingly enough, it met all those conditions! It’s been a durable, versitile car for me so far and I’m thankful to have it.

  15. I remember my 62 Nova well. It was a great car until I destoyed the passeger side door. I was at the drive-in movies on a first date and forgot to remove the speaker from the window before pulling out. CRUNCH

  16. My car list is much longer, started with the 76 malibu classic. Then to my classic fix up 68 GTO. When wrecked that first available 73 malibu station wagon. Then to luxury sedan 75 impala. After that was back to coupe 77 Monte Carlo… like them so went back in time to 71 monte carlo SS. Then went to truck phase for 10 years, ford f150s. Back to cars in late 90s. the 84 olds delta 88. 89 ford taurus wagon, 03 Porsche. Now Ive moved to motorcycles.nothing like a harley
    Rockin good post you have, good to see your story on cars.
    Tim

  17. I leased one of those Mazda6 wagons back in ’04 or ’05, its one of my favorite cars Ive ever driven. I think you have many great years ahead of you in that baby.

  18. I had to read this just because of the title – brilliant! I am a huge fan of old cars. I’ve got a ’93 Plymouth Acclaim that runs like a charm! But my dream is to have an orange ’68 Dart GTS…. with a black bumble bee stripe.

  19. My first car was a 1976 Pontiac Trans Am, chocolate brown with the golden chicken on the hood and that scoop. Had the 455 with a 4 speed manual.

    That car could lay rubber anywhere. Gave it up after about 6 months because I was getting a little too much police attention with it.

  20. Love that Datsun 240Z – that car was way ahead of its time for sure. My list of cars started with a beaten up Triumph 1500 that my Dad bought from a scrapyard! It had no handbrake, no radiator, and a host of other missing bits that I didn’t even know were supposed to be there in the first place. We (well my Dad :)) built it up and I ended up doing about 20,000 miles in it right through University and beyond. I then ‘graduated’ to a Talbot Solara (yuk), A Renault 5 Turbo (outstanding), A Ford Mondeo (boring), a Cavalier SRi (quick), three BMWs (loved them all), a Mazda RX8 (headturner), a Mercedes CLK Cabriolet (a lemon, sadly), and now drive a Boxster (beautiful).

    Cheers from Oxfordshire, UK, Chris.

  21. Gotta love those older cars and the stories that they all hold. My first car was a 1963 Studebaker Lark, I drove that car after high school and well into my college years. Of course the intention was to restore it as well, but things always got in the way. I love that car and the memories it holds. 🙂 Great post!

  22. My first car was a Ford Maverick that that my grandmother had before me. That was several cars ago now and I have found memories of all of them! In thinking about it, I find it fascinating how many of us get so attached to our cars, regardless of what they are. Thanks for sharing!

  23. The 4-Runner’s a great one. I’ve got an old 1991 sitting out there with a quarter-million miles on it, have to park it facing downhill at the moment to get it started next time. I wish they’d made it easier to get to that starter. But I expect it’s going to last me another quarter-million or until I kick, whichever comes first.

    Thanks for the post.

  24. Interesting to read about how much someone’s first car means to them once it’s gone. I (relatively recently as I’m only 17) obtained my first car, a 2002 Honda Accord, and as much as I’m in love with it now, I’m sure it will mean more to me once it’s gone.

  25. I LUV that ’71 Valiant !! I had a ’71 Ply.Scamp with the Slant Six, I drove it for 10 years and put about 150000 miles on it.
    MoPar to ya. 🙂

    – Nick

  26. My first car was a used 66 Valiant. I drove it more than 220K miles and gave it to my mechanic who had it for more miles and years. Nice to look back, nice post.

  27. You never forget your first ride from the sheer thrill of it and I have remembered every ride since for the same reason. It is fun to reflect on them from time to time. Great post and “Thanks for the memories”.

  28. My rust bucket was a 76 Toyota Corolla purchased in California before I relocated to DC. It couldn’t handle the weather back east and rusted away after 10 years. It was still a great running car rusty.

    How many miles did you put on that 1992 BMW 316?

    Congrats on the FP!

  29. The 240Z was the car I longed for as a late teen/early 20s. They were very hard to find in upstate New York, by 1980. I ended up with a ’73 Mercury Capri. A sweet little ride, standard, that had some problems, but generally served me well. My sister took it over and drove it for a few more years. We just scrapped a ’97 Mazda 626, with over 248,000 miles. Bought it new. My son drove it, when I had told him not to, and the timing belt went. That was an excellent driving car.

  30. My first car was a hand-me-down from my mom; a tealish-colored, 1980 Ford FTD station wagon. I shared her with my older brother all through high-school. She was a barge of a car, with so much space we could cram 9 people (or 6 and all our camping gear) into her and ride for days. We called her Lola- she walked like a woman but talked like a man (due to the hole in the muffler that made her sound like a mud truck when she started up). I have great memories of that car!

  31. Cars I’ll never get back again…

    When I was a kid, a loooooong time ago we used to get a new car every other year. With a growing family, I’m the first of seven kids, my folks opted for station wagons and we had a series of Ford ‘woodies.” Wouldn’t you want to have one of those now?

    I wish I had my very first car right now. It was a 1956 Chevy Bel Aire. Two-tone gray and white. Straight six with three on the column. I bought it for $500 and drove it into the ground.

  32. What does “FP” stand for? I’m seeing a few people saying: “congrats on the FP” What do they mean?

    • It means ,”freshly pressed”. A WordPress editor has seen and liked a blog and has decided to feature it ,along with other interesting blogs on the WordPress home page , which means your blog will get seen by a lot more people

      • Thanks, Herb! (and imaginecreation) I kinda figured it out after posting my question, but I appreciate the confirmation. So, it’s a subjective kind of thing, on the part of WP editors. I think I was on FP in the early days of my blog, but just the one time. Maybe they try to feature newer bloggers, to try to give them a boost. Mine has grown nicely in 3 years, and I’ve had some record days, visit-wise, but no new FPs. But, I meet some great people by checking out the FP page!
        Take care!

  33. Dude, I wish that I had not read this, because now I am depressed! I miss so many cars from my past. Coincidentally, I also had a ’71 Valiant (green) which I inherited from my grandfather – it was as solid as a tank.

    I also had 2 ’76 280Z’s, one of which was destroyed by a Buick when I pulled out in front of it. I was not hurt, though, because the seat belt and bucket seat kept me in place.

    The other cars I miss so much are as follows, in order of importance: ’67 fastback Mustang, ’68 Ford Ranger, ’67 Mercury Cougar, ’71 Chrysler Imperial (only car banned by demolition derby), ’71 Maverick, ’79 Pinto station wagon, ’77 Chevy Caprice Classic.

    And speaking of fuel consumption, a full tank of gasoline in the ’71 Imperial would only last 200 miles. It had a 440 with a four-barrel. THAT was a ship.

  34. WOWEE! That’s a nice list of cars. I love cars myself and I really want to get a 1960’s Mustang restoration project. I like your taste in automobiles hahaha. If you are interested, come and see my blog- it’s nothing like what you have here, but it’s great for the soul.

  35. A nice trip down car-memory lane. Brought me back to my own ’75 Plymouth Duster with the impossible to kill slant 6 and 3spd manual. My copy had a hand cranked sunroof that surprisingly didn’t leak as most did in those days. The poor thing rusted away, but even after more than 200,000 miles the engine and trans. were in great running shape. Miss that car. Loved the photos and the personal stories, these memories are important.

  36. A friend of mine gave me my first car at 20 years old. I know, I didn’t get my license until then. Late bloomer. HA! Anyway, it was ’90 Subaru wagon. My brother totaled that for me. Thanks, Jon. My next car was also a Subaru but much older . . . and it was cheap cheap cheap. That finally kicked the bucket, a year after I got married. A ’98 Honda Civic got us around until kids came into the picture 3 years later . . . and then we ended up with a Nissan Quest mini van, thanks to my mom helping us out! Then that started to go and we bought a ’00 Ford Expedition. Now we drive the Expedition and the Civic. All paid for . . . no car payments in site and they are in good condition! That sums up nearly 15 years of car ownership . . . =D I like your new wagon! . . . especially the color!

    • I will give props to the Nissan Quest mini van . . . that darn near hit 300,000 miles before the tranny started to go. . . . that’s a good chunk of miles!

  37. Great blog! My favorite car was my lead sled. The 1956 Neapolitan colored (pink, brown and beige for kiddies who don’t know) Dodge Custom Royal. Push button transmission, air conditioning, fins, duel antennas, a radio with tubes and one of the first Hemi engines. The super red ram with the intake manifold that looked like a spider on a mirror. I will never forget it. Keep writing. You are dong a great job with this blog! Love it.

  38. Interesting how each car fit at the time, then you moved on to something that was an even better fit. The Mazda looks great, and sounds like the A/C is faboo! Congrats!

  39. my husband has owned about 30 cars since he was 16 and 10 during the 6 years i’ve known him. out of all those cars, i liked his old bmw 525i the best because it was built like a tank.

  40. OMG, my dad bought me a ’72 Plymouth Valiant as my first car. I was around 16. I didn’t have the same sentiment as you did about yours, but it was a car and that is all that mattered. I went to Ford’s after that. I vowed never to get another Plymouth/Dodge/Chrysler product EVER!! Simply because that Valiant had a lot of problems and was never consistent in the winter/cold weather.

  41. Pingback: Selling My Zoom | The Polish Magician

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