The five things my crappy first car taught me

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A story of passion and heartbreak

By Chandler Walter, Distribution Manager

There’s something unforgettable about a first car. I’ll always remember that first drive home from Pitt Meadows in my newly purchased 1991 Honda Prelude. It was sitting so low to the ground I could practically feel the hole in the muffler.

I learnt a lot in the year-and-a-half of owning, insuring, and maintaining a hunk of metal that had spent three years more than me on this planet, and it helped grow me into a better person, in a lot of ways.

Responsibility: You don’t have a first car until you have a first car. Your mom’s minivan that she lets you drive on the weekends doesn’t count.

A $2,000 time bomb of rust and faulty brake lights in the hands of a 17-year old boy is a lot to handle: making appointments at the shop, checking the fluids, paying the monthly insurance, and not committing manslaughter every time you (idiotically) check your phone while behind the wheel.

It makes you realize the sheer weight of being the primary caregiver of a thing that—if it was anything like mine—needed a lot of care.

Negotiations: You haggle with the guy from Craigslist you’re buying the car from, you haggle with the bad-smelling ex-trucker who wants to charge you $50 for a door handle you salvaged out of his scrap yard, and you’re always skeptical of the unfamiliar auto shop owner who says you “probably need a new timing belt.”

Granted, the used-auto industry is not the greatest example of humanity, but having a car that needs work gives you your first idea of how some people out there in the world really will take all that they can get.

Resourcefulness: Windshield wipers won’t wipe the windshield completely? Hockey tape the lever.

Can’t pay for a tow? Get your buddies to push you back to your place from the shop.

Headlight out? Tape a flashlight to the hood until you can get a new one.

Dead battery? Go ask everyone you can find in the parking lot if they happen to have jumper cables.

A crappy first car puts you out of your comfort zone and makes you think on your feet at the absolute least opportune of times.

Sympathy: The other day I picked up a pizza delivery guy who was walking on the side of the street with a jerry can. I asked him if he needed a ride and he jumped right in.

“No one ever picks anyone up like that anymore,” the middle-aged man told me as I gave him a lift to the station. “I was waving and flashing my light like crazy, and I’d been walking for 20 minutes.”

So why did I pick him up? The goodness of my heart? Hell no. It’s because I had been there before, and I owed it to the universe.

Loss: I parted from my Prelude in the cold winter of 2012. It simply stopped running, due to a broken timing belt (of course).

I elected to coast it down the street to my driveway, and part it out from there. It tore my heart out, truly, but I knew each part taken would go on to give new life to another Prelude, that my first car would live on in many other crappy first cars to infuriate, befuddle, and teach other young drivers everything I learnt.

In loving memory,

Darth Luder