We paid $1000 for her in 1982. She had over 90,000 miles on her at the time. I learned to drive with Shokoladka in a cemetery (see “Learning to Drive in Oakwood Cemetery” at The Graveyard Rabbit of Northern Virginia).
For a few years Shokoladka was a reliable commuter car. My husband drove her the first couple of years; then I learned to drive and we bought another Civic - one of only two cars that we have ever bought new, the other one being a Stratos Blue 1986 Honda Civic Wagon (my baby for 20 years; we finally sold her for $500 in 2007).
We took a few trips in Shokoladka, mostly to New York to visit my husband’s parents. I remember one winter trip when a snowstorm whipped up right after we had started back to Virginia. The heater was not working very well, and the windshield started to frost up. My husband had to drive with the side windows rolled down and both of us looking out the side windows until he could pull over and scrape the ice off. It was so cold in the car that we could see our breath.
It was when I started driving Shokoladka that she finally started to show her age. She had more than 120,000 miles on her and began to get a bit temperamental. In the cold weather she was still surprisingly reliable (with the exception of that heater), but she definitely balked at travel during the hot summer months, often stalling from “vapor lock” when we stopped at a crossroads.
We brought her to a trusted mechanic, who told us that we should probably be looking for a new car. We were reluctant to do so (whether from sentimentality or strained finances, I cannot remember now), so he said that we could try buying a rebuilt engine for her. That is the choice we made, though why we decided to spend almost as much on that rebuilt engine as we did purchasing the car is a mystery to me.
The first rebuilt engine was a bust; it died after less than 10,000 miles. After much wrangling back and forth, we persuaded the company that sold the engine to replace it. The second engine did better, but by 1987 we realized we needed to replace Shokoladka, and that was when we bought Little Blue. We sold Shokoladka to a neighbor family with a teenage daughter for $100, having warned them that Shokoladka did not like hot summer days very much. The girl did not mind; she was thrilled with her cute little car.
As I mentioned above, I drove Little Blue for many years afterward. Even when she was well into her dotage, mechanics at gas stations would spot her and offer us money.
Our neighbors' little boy "driving" Little Blue
Our one non-Honda was a gold 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan. It gave us more trouble than all of the other cars we have ever owned combined. I remember once when I was driving my daughters home from a school event, the power steering went out just as I was turning onto a major road - scary! I managed to get the car home, and we could see that the steering fluid was leaking.
We traded the “Gold Lemon” in for an Odyssey, a reliable car that has moved tons of stuff, including my younger daughter’s harp to numerous events and my older daughter’s possessions to and from college. At some point my in-laws gave us their old 1989 Honda Civic, a little red car that has seen a lot of action, though it is also showing its age now. After selling Little Blue in 2007 we bought a 2004 Honda CRV - my new baby. My husband likes to tease me that it actually belongs to my older daughter. It’s true that I let her drive it during her senior year in high school while I drove Little Red Civic. She was one of the carpool drivers for her high school crew team, and they had a 50-mile round-trip commute to the boat house each day after school, so she needed a reliable car that could hold crew gear. We call the CRV “New Hotness” (points to anyone who can quote the movie this name comes from).
I plan on driving New Hotness forever.
(You can read about one of the cars my family had when I was growing up in “Memory Monday: Our Edsel.”)
This is the prompt for Week 3 for Amy Coffin’s series of prompts entitled 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Cars. What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it.