Silver Bullet

I am not really a car person. If I somehow won the lottery, which is rather a long shot as I don’t buy tickets, a new car would be number 12 or 13 on the list of items I would buy. I have a car, and I appreciate my car, but I don’t really wrap my identity up in my car, or cars in general. I don’t have a dream car, and really, I would almost prefer it if I weren’t so dependent on carbon-spewing transportation altogether.

In spite of my automotive ambivalence, I am waxing a little nostalgic over my car at the moment. Today is a very momentous occasion in the life of my little Honda Civic. I purchased it brand new on July 21, 2000, so it is 10 years old now. My very first car, all grown up. I saved up money for the down payment and I paid $200 every month for 2 years before I owned it free and clear. I felt very grown-up in my car, filled with new car smell. No more lugging groceries on the bus, no more depending on other people to get around. My car represented independence.

My car, affectionately nicknamed the silver bullet
The silver bullet

I made my car my own. I installed a stereo and I gave it a nickname – the silver bullet. I took it on road trips and back and forth to work. On my wedding day, it took me to the salon and back. On the day Jacob was born, it was in my car that I realized I was in full-on labour, and from its front seat (while safely parked) that I called Jon to let him know. My car has carried loads of over-excited 7-year-olds on Brownie camps and field trips. It has held car seats and it has been covered in Cheerios and it has been dented and fixed. And still, it serves its duty well.

When I bought this car, I was hoping to get about 10 years out of it. But now, 10 years later, I don’t feel quite ready to part. It might not be as sparkly as it used to be, but it has a lot of life and miles left in it. And it is mine. I know it by feel. I don’t have to look where my hand is going to adjust the air conditioning or turn down the volume on the stereo. I know how the brakes will respond and how far I can get on a tank of gas. I know exactly what will fit in the trunk and what won’t.

Another angle of my car
If you look closely, you can see Hannah in the back seat, sticking her lollipop out the window

My car doesn’t define me. But I still feel rather affectionately towards it. It is the most vanilla of vehicles, my silver Civic. Its insides are covered in kid debris, and it smells sort of like spilled juice. But it has carried me for 10 years on the road of life. And that’s really all that anyone can ask of a car, I think.

Tell me about your first car. What was it? How long did it last? And were you happy to give it up, or sad to see it go? Or, like me, are you still driving it? I’d love to know!

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  1. I’ve had many cars over the years, my lastest, which I just HAD TO have (all the husbands out there, never let your wife buy a car when 7 months pregnant because hormones drive that purchase baby) is a 2007 Pontiac Montana SV6 minivan. I like it because it’s a small mini-van and as mini-van’s go, it’s good on gas. I don’t commute very far so that helps, and a van is a great thing to have for long car trips, strollers, folding chairs, boxes of groceries and hauling extended family around. I had a black, 4 door, 2001 Honda Civic prior to the van and I loved it! My first car was a Pontiac 6000GL. I don’t remember what year it was but it was pretty old and I remember grinding out spots of rust on the doors, priming and painting it myself. I also remember one very hot day the rearview mirror fell right
    Tanya’s last post … Apron stringsMy Profile

  2. My first car was a hand-me-down from my mom. It was a 1986, 4-door, BROWN Plymouth Reliant. Affectionately known as the Brown Cow. She wasn’t pretty by any means, basically a big ole box on wheels but she got me from point A to point B which was what I needed. I was not sad to see her go though. She had started to leak oil and it wasn’t worth it for me to fix it.

    Hmmm…you’ve got me thinking now about a furture blog post 🙂 Must dig through parents stuff for some old pictures!
    Carrie’s last post … Wordless Wednesday- The Next Jackson PolluckMy Profile

  3. I think you should drive you car into the ground. My uncle has done that with each of his Hondas. It’s amazing how long they go for. About 400,000 kms for each of his cars.

    My first car was awesome and a piece of poo at the same time. It was a green Volkswagon Scirocco 5 speed with leather seats and a sweet sound system thanks to my boyfriend at the time. It could fly down the highway and was probably a little too much car for a 17-yo. Alas it was also a massive lemon, leaked oil so badly that I had to carry a gallon of oil in the trunk and top it up for every trip. It cost me thousands of $ in repair bills during it’s life and so I sold it for a boring Honda Civic Hatchback was all sorts of sensible and worked for many many years.
    Marilyn’s last post … A Bucket of Water Will Buy an Hour of Quiet- Wednesday of Few WordsMy Profile

    • I have about 87,000 kms on my car right now. So that means, if your uncles are representative, I could drive this thing for another 35 years! Somehow I doubt that, but if I kept to it my first car could be my only car.

  4. I’m with Marilyn on this. Cars should be run until they can no longer stumble.

    My first car was a 1969 Morris Minor that looked a lot like this one:
    My Gran had bought it new the year I was born (there, I’ve gone and given my age away), she stopped driving by the time I was 17 and so I got it. It smelled of dogs and cigar smoke. I called her Rosy. Hmmm, memories.

    Then I got a silver second hand 1985 Subaru 4WD that I drove until it died. It took me on my first serious road trip all the way along the length of Baja California, Mexico. I was a senior in college. Her name was Betsey.

    Then, I finally got a 1992 Honda Civic. I still have her, but since marrying my husband we’ve added a few cars to the family including this beauty, a 1975 Monte Carlo Landau, my husband’s first car.
    Tepary’s last post … Challenging the Mental BlockMy Profile

  5. My car’s story is very similar to your own, only 5 years later. In July 2005, after I’d just graduated my Master’s program and gotten my first job, I bought a Mazda 3 and all of a sudden I was a career woman commuting to and from work and feeling so very grown up. I kept it clean and pristine and took a lot of pride in it, even though I’m really not much of a car person. Now it’s home to a massive carseat that takes up most of the backseat, several toys and baby books, and all the usual crumbs, cheerios, and food debris. We’ve come a long way together, me and my Mazda 3!
    Amanda’s last post … Pros and ConsMy Profile

  6. Like you, I don’t have a particular fondness or attachment t cars; they’re just a tool that gets me from point A to point B so I’ve never been picky about what I drive.

    My first car was a 1981 black Chevy Citation X11 (wow, it took me a to remember that). It was basically a “sport” edition of a regular citation…the engine was already over-powered, and my neighbor was a mechanic and tweaked it even more…just what a 17 year old needs. After a year, maybe two (I really can’t remember) I sold it for less than I paid.

    I’m not a fan of buying cars, although I absolutely love the negotiating and haggling, so if I had my way my next car would be a hearse…and I wouldn’t be driving 🙂

  7. There’s something special about that first car. 🙂
    Summer’s last post … Anti-Consumerism Link FarmMy Profile

  8. My first car – in 1994 – was a 1987 Pontiac Grand Am. I loved it. It was fully loaded. It had the widest turning radius ever. Now I have a 2005 Loser Cruiser, the van of choice for North American parents. I’m pretty sure it doubles as refuse heap.
    Ironic Mom’s last post … Midlife and Make UpMy Profile

  9. I never bought a first car on my own. Our first vehicle was a little green Toyota truck that looked like a toy. When we lived in Hamilton I used it to get to work (audio publishing) and my husband took transit to work at the university. When we lived in Toronto I took transit to work (bookstore) and my husband used it to get to work. We adored it even though whenever someone came anywhere with us I had to sit in their lap. Finally we moved to Ottawa and bought a more grownup car (Mazda 626) which we just got rid of after well and truly driving it into the ground. But I loved that silly little truck.
    allison’s last post … If You Dont Have Anything Nice to Say- Say it LoudMy Profile

  10. I’ve had my car for six years and love how it works and how I don’t have to think about it. My husband is already thinking about what his next car should be, but I don’t dream about cars.

    Like one of your earlier commenters, I remember when the rearview mirror regularly fell off my first car (hand me down Caprice Classic boat!) on hot days.
    Lady M’s last post … Temporary Lisp I Hope- Plus OctopiMy Profile

  11. My fondest car memories are of the one I had while I was growing up. From my birth up until the age of 10 we owner a Happy Honda! A silver honda civic hatchback. I loved this car. It took us everywhere, including yearly visits down south to family in California! I have terrific memories of sleeping on the fold down back with my sister as my day drove us through mountains, and valleys. With the same monkeys tape playing over and over again in the tape deck. Some of my favorite moments were in that car.

    As a grown up I didn’t get my license until my early 20’s. I enjoyed being the designated drunk prior to that, and let someone else do the driving. Learning to drive I rode my husbands (boyfriend at the time) Saturn. Honestly I don’t hold any sentimental attachment. We’ve had a few cars since then. Still I never had my own and mostly used transit to commute. Only once we had our second child did I realize how much I needed a vehicle. So we bought the mini van. I love it! It drives like a car, but hold all my crap. It truley is MY first car!
    Laura’s last post … Come see the Sea!My Profile

  12. My first car was a GIGANTIC Buick LeSabre. I had it for about 18 months, until I left for college. Since I wasn’t paying for student parking, my parents sold it and passed the cash my way to get me started in college while I looked for a job. It was a decent car while I owned it, very few problems. I know drive an ’04 Kia Spectra and I absolutely love it. I hope to drive it for a good long time, but when I need a new car I know for sure that I’ll be looking at Kias first. My MIL had a Honda Accord that she bought new in ’95 and just parted with last year. Honda makes great cars. I’m sure your Civic still has plenty of life in her!
    Earth Muffin’s last post … Oh- my myoh- hell yes!My Profile

  13. I just retired my Madza 323 (1993) last year (always went by the moniker “323”) – and I was balling like a baby when we drove it down to the Scrap It yard. Side note: I drove it 40 km an hour to the yard with my fingers crossed that it would not break down. That car was a part of my body I knew it so well.I could park it ANYWHERE. I will never feel the passion that I did for that car. By the time I got rid of every door lock was broken, ever part had been replaced and I clung to it like a drowning sailor fingers curled around the hull.

    We now have a forgettable silver-grey family mobile.

    I guess the car represents the end of my carefree, childess “youth.”

    Still… sighs…

  14. that looks great for 10 yrs, but then again you don’t have to worry much about the harshness of salt and nasty winters. my first car was a hyundai accent. it was forest green it was new to me. it didn’t have power steering. i sold it when we found out we were pregnant. a car seat with only two doors wasn’t something i was willing to go through.
    smothermother’s last post … A Summer DayMy Profile

  15. my first car…in 1999 was a dark blue (or should I say dark rust) 1982 ford tempo. I paid $250 for it, it lasted for 2 years. Best deal I ever had on a car!
    Jenn’s last post … Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  16. My big and grown up car was also a 1998 Honda Civic – a black, two door, sun-room and I was in love with it for 11 years! It would still be in my driveway if I hadn’t had a second child and realized half-way through my pregnancy that getting a child in and out of the backseat with a huge belly just wasn’t going to work….and nor would putting two kids in car seats in the back of it.
    I can totally appreciate the love for the Civic. It was a perfect “first” for me. I used to love zipping around in it with the music a tad on the louder side – of course I was cool! ; ). However, I stopped doing that when the Baby Beluga CD was always in my player! I was sad to see it drive away for the last time when it was traded off.
    Kristin’s last post … Bath Time!My Profile

  17. I’m not a car person either. I am driving my dream car–a 2004 (or 05?) silver Honda Odyssey that as of a few weeks ago is PAID OFF, yay! The paid off part is what I dreamed of for so long. We will drive until it dies. The first car I had and took my driver’s test in at 17 is a 2000 Toyota Corolla, and my husband is driving that to and from work now. It doesn’t look so good and the AC sometimes doesn’t work, but it runs and means I’m not left carless during the day. I don’t get fancy cars. There are so many other things I’d rather have.
    Jenny’s last post … Dressing to impress myselfMy Profile

  18. Caroline

    The first care I bought myself was a Dodge Daytona. Mags and T-Top baby, I was the envy of all the High School girls, and it was a quick little thing! That car stayed in my family (my Dad drove it for awhile, I needed a truck while working on farms and swapped for his Dakota) until 2003 when I hit the back of a BMW on an icy road, and totalled it. A fitting goodbye to my “little banger”.

    The car we drive now has the best story. I have (and love) a Ford Mustang. 2006 Pony, Vista Blue. I bought the car as a birthday present to me in January 2006, after a break up and loss of a loved one. I wanted something fun, something fast, something just for me. I was ready, and boy, did it look awesome!

    When my dad and I walked into the Ford dealership that blustery January Saturday, the gentleman who walked up and shook our hands and then sold us the car (after a test drive in a snowstorm), well..

    He became my husband.

    Yup. I met my husband when I bought a car from him. Crazy, eh? We still drive it, (yes, a carseat fits in the back nicely) it is almost paid for, and was in our wedding pictures. Its just a car, but its also a very sentimental object for us, as a family. Not sure what to do when we upgrade to a more family friendly vehicle next year.

  19. lol…I can relate to the spilled juice smell! My first car was a dark pink with a sunroof that I adored! Sort of like a real life Barbie car 🙂 I LOVED it in HS and University!
    Wendy Irene’s last post … Featured ArticleMy Profile

  20. Amber, did I read right, you only have 87,000 km on your civic. Wowzers!!! You can certainly go for another decade or two with that low mileage.

    My first car was a 1999 Toyota Tercel. I bought it used in January 2004 and still drive it today. This car still runs well and I love it. Best part about it is the rubber bumpers. I’ve bumped into so many things and never left a scratch … why don’t cars have rubber bumpers any more? I only see them on minivans these days.

  21. Hondas are such great cars. My first car was a Ford Focus. I had to sell it in my mid-twenties because i could no longer afford car insurance in New York City. I loved that darn car! It went everywhere! I drove it from NYC to Texas!
    Old School/New School Mom’s last post … An Anonymous Reader AttacksMy Profile

  22. My first car’s name was Bob. I inherited it when my grandfather passed and it was the biggest lemon you ever saw. I only had it for about a year (it was THAT bad) but it still holds some pretty special memories (of DRAMA!) in my memory 🙂 Since then I’ve had 6 other cars (wow) although one of our two cars now I’ve had for 9 years, which is definitely a record, and the first car I bought new.
    Lara’s last post … Rollin rollin roll-oops!My Profile

  23. My first car was a honda civic too… but a really REALLY old one…

    The car that I loved the most though was my little red Mazda… I saved and saved and saved to be able to buy a brand new car (probably the only one I will ever own) and it was so awesome! The car’s name was Bob and there were many many good times in Bob…. I had plans to keep Bob for a long time but it was already a squeeze to fit twins in car seats in the back and then when we had our third child and talked about a fourth I knew Bob had to go. I actually cried the day we traded Bob in the Big White Bus…. wherever you are Bob I hope someone loves you as much as I did!

  24. How amazing to have a mobile piece of your life’s history like that! My first car was a 2000 Ford Taurus station wagon. Green. My friend crashed it, rolled it off the highway, while babysitting my kids. Thank heaven no one was hurt. And the shake up inspired me to grow up a little and ditch my lead foot ways. Quite a few memories though…I’m feeling all nostalgic now.

  25. I am still driving my first car, a 1999 Subaru Outback. My first vehicle was actually a motorcycle, but when I decided I needed a more reliable all season vehicle for living in the mountains I got the used Subaru. I love this car. It is reliable and with the hatchback it makes a great hauler. I bought it for $6000, 6 years ago and its still running great. I wish I had the spilled juice smell! On a warm day I still pick up a slight hint of cat pee, the result of an overly adventurous ride to the vets office.

    My 3 year old daughter now tells me we need a van. All her friends have them and she is very impressed. We regularly host exchange students, and so as a family of 5 road trips now see me wedged in the middle of 2 car seats in the back, I too am starting to think we need the van or “Swagger Wagon” as Toyota has dubbed it.

  26. Rebecca The Greeniac says:

    Ha! I have a 20 year old Civic wagon that’s still goin’ strong! However, there were numerous disastrous used cars that preceded it. The Toyota with the cracked block, the Ford that threw a rod, the Chrysler that burned more oil than gas, and finally the Mazda that had a nasty habit of just dying in the middle of major intersections for no reason that any mechanic could discern.

    My mother actually bought my car for me when I graduated from college. It was less of a graduation present than it was a self defense maneuver as she was tiring of having to rescue me from the side of the road. Get this… she actually had it “de-cursed”! My mom’s a little bit out there. But seriously she put a “curse breaker” “Wonga Doll” in the glove compartment. And the deal was that the car was mine as long as I agreed to keep the Wonga Doll in there forever.

    20 years later I guess it’s hard to argue!
    Rebecca The Greeniac’s last post … Be Careful What You Ask For!My Profile

  27. We have the same car as you! Bought in 2000 and it has 90,000km. To celebrate we just got it detailed for a $100 and it looks brand new. Worth every penny for a car that’s been so good to us.
    Kelly’s last post … My Head is GrowingMy Profile

  28. I have that civic too! But it’s an ’02 and I just got it 4 yrs ago after the first kid was born.

    My first car was a civic hatchback, white, immaculate, “lady driven”. I had to buy it because i was unemployed and got a job in Richmond while living in the west end of Vancouver during a transit strike. I needed the job so my parents lent me the money to buy the car. I loved it. It had a sun roof and a tape deck and even though it was white, a lame ass colour for a car if you ask me, I was free and easy and happy.

    6 months later I got rear-ended by a cube van. Cube van vs. civic hatchback = write off.

    I bought an ’87 Tercel with tweed interior and a musty smell and pocketed the rest of the insurance money. We named that Tercel Gordo and drove him hard for years until we moved back to the west end from Burnaby and couldn’t park / didn’t need or want a car.

    As luck would have it we got pregnant, moved back to the ‘burbs and when son1 was 6 months old and I was going crazy trapped in the house after weeks of snow we ended up buying my dad’s old car (4 years old, but he wanted a hybrid in the worst way..or just wanted to do us a favour) and that’s our silver bullet.

    I fully expect my kids will learn to drive on it. Least that’s what I am telling them now.
    clara’s last post … Shock!My Profile

  29. As soon as I can afford it I will hire a driver to drive me around. Cars not on my lottery list either. I do feel nostalgic over my first ever one which is long gone. Never felt that way over any since but I haven’t owned a car in six years anyway. Though that is all about to change.
    AmberDusick’s last post … Woodmouse CircusMy Profile

  30. we just bought our first small car, a small Mercedes. but because of the good public transport system in Germany, you dont really need one. good to know that there a some Americans, that dont drive SUVs 😉

  31. I got my first car in 2000 – it was a 1990 Chev Sprint with less than 50,000 km on it. (yes, a 10-year old car with less than 50,000 km!) It was a three cylinder (after we got the last one fixed – at first it only fired two of the cylinders) didn’t like to get wet and had no bells and whistles what-so-ever. In the 10 years I drove it I put two stereo systems in it and made my parents crazy because they thought it was too small to be on the road – indeed, you could feel the road through the thin tin-like doors on it’s tiny frame. Still, I loved it as much as I loved a car and was determined to drive it into the ground which I guess is exactly what I did since it wasn’t worth fixing it anymore when more and more things started to break – I donated it to the Kidney Foundation last December. Thankfully my husband loved it too and we were so proud of driving a small car (even with a child in it) that everyone hated and thought wasn’t safe. The car was fine – it isn’t our fault that so many people in our city drive giant trucks and SUVs. We try not to drive much anyway: we walk and save up our errands for one trip. We bought a second hand Ford Focus station wagon after we gave up the Sprint. It is also lovely but we feel kind of spoiled with the heated seats, air conditioning and car that doesn’t pout (i.e. not work) for four days after a big rain storm.

  32. I have joined the ranks of the Honda Civic owners! After living car-free for nearly a decade, this is a pretty big shift for our family, but it feels right at this time. We bought a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid and we look forward to many happy years of trips and memories in our new car. I’m glad to hear that you’re still driving your Civic with two kids, as that’ll be me in 2011!
    Holly’s last post … Carfree no moreMy Profile

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