My Automotive History, 1986-present

81 Chevy Citation
My first car - a 1981 Chevrolet Citation. Graciously purchased for me by my parents, I proceeded to beat this car into the ground over my high school years. Not that it was entirely my fault - this was, in retrospect, a pretty crappy car. I believe the 1981 Citation had the distinction of being the second-most-recalled vehicle in US automotive history (pre-Yugo era). The first? The 1980 Chevrolet Citation.

Owned: May, 1986-July, 1989
Miles Driven: ~45,000 (little short of 48,000 through little over 93,000)
Plates: 3 (Maine - 28409 L, 94637 T; New York SSM 214)
Disposition: Traded in for...

79 VW Rabbit
My second car - a 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit C. I'd always really wanted to own a Volkswagen. Owning this car forever disavowed me of that notion. Fun to drive when it was running correctly, which was almost never. This was a "Westmoreland Rabbit," built in Pennsylvania and famous for shoddy build quality. They had this lovely habit of rotting out where the roof pillar meets the windshield, allowing water to run down into the fuse box whenever it rained. Lots of fun.

Owned: July, 1989-February, 1991
Miles Driven: 38,597 (66,927-105,524)
Plates: 4 (Maine - 54363 Y, 57260 Z; New York 5SA 672; Maine 7592 CC)
Disposition: Junked after overheating ruined engine.

79 AMC Concord
My third car - a 1979 AMC Concord. OK, for the record, I did not pick this one out. This car was purchased by a co-worker of my father at a New York State surplus vehicle auction - you could still see the spots on the doors where the state seal had been. It was completely gutless, with the 3,000 pound monstrosity being pushed around by a straight six that had a bizarre appetite for carburetors. The radiator blew up coming home from work one day. I don't think I've ever been glad to hear a mechanic tell me my car wasn't worth fixing before.

Owned: March, 1991-June, 1991
Miles Driven: 4,086 (118,261-122,348)
Plates: 1 (New York 3WL 361)
Disposition: Sold for $50 after the radiator blew up.

86 Subaru hatchback
My fourth car - a 1986 Subaru STD hatchback. Now, for a bare-bones econobox, this was a great car. This was quite a find at the time - it was a "Grandma car," five years old with 32,000 miles on it when my parents bought it for me. It got me through the remainder of my stay at the University of Maine and beyond. I still regret trading it in, although it was showing signs of needing some expensive work and, having graduated college and found gainful employment, I convinced myself I needed a real, live new car. Of course, now I spend half my spare time looking for a good used Subaru hatchback to buy. Oh well...

Owned: July, 1991-November, 1995
Miles Driven: 93,538 (31,988-125,527)
Plates: 3 (New York 5SA 672; Maine C/R 14711; Massachusetts 518-XTA)
Disposition: Traded in for...

94 Ford Escort
My fifth car - a 1994 Ford Escort LX sedan. My first-ever new car, purchased shortly after getting my first-ever real job out of college. This was a great car as well, very reliable, and averaged 35MPG over the entire time I owned it (yeah, I kept track.) It had the distinction of bringing both my kids home from the hospital when they were born. I was bound and determined to get this car to 200,000 miles, but had to finally admit defeat in May, 2004 when, as the NASCAR guys like to say, my "motor broke." At least the car had the courtesy to die right next to a tow-truck driver's house.

Owned: November, 1995-May, 2004
Miles Driven: 183,329 (13-183,342)
Plates: 5 (Massachusetts 518-XTA; Maine 5019 DX, 15 Q, 878-AAA (lobster), 15 Q)
Disposition: Blown engine, sold for $50.

96 Subaru Outback
My sixth car - a 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback wagon. Hey, a creampuff deal from eBay Motors - what could possibly go wrong? I took the Metroliner to Trenton to pick this heap up on my birthday in 2003. It supposedly had 113,000 miles on it, but in the process of chasing a mysterious Check Engine light and cloud of smoke pouring from the back of the thing, I discovered a maintenance record from two years previous when the car had...168,000 miles. D'oh! That, plus learning a little about the Phase I 2.5L DOHC Subaru engine and its appetite for head gaskets, sent me running for the nearest dealership that'd give me anything in trade.

Owned: December, 2003-February, 2004
Miles Driven: >1,000 (odometer readings pointless)
Plates: 1 (Maine 115-AAQ (lobster))
Disposition: Traded in for...

98 Toyota Camry
My seventh car - a 1998 Toyota Camry LE. Jumped from the Outback and its quirks (odometer fraud notwithstanding) to the epitome of reliable family transportation. This was actually a great car, right up to the point where the tree branch fell on it, at which point it lost a great deal of its charm. I sprung for a couple grand in body work to get it to the point where I could get windows back into it, but the thing was never really right again. I put up with it for another seven months or so after the accident, then traded it in for my current driver (see 2005 Saab). And, yes, I did have to drive around the block a few times on the day I traded it in to get my total mileage in this car to exactly 20,000 miles. Those who know me would expect no less.

Owned: February, 2004-June, 2005
Miles Driven: 20,000 (68,998-88,998).
Plates: 3 (Maine 115-AAQ (lobster), 15 Q, 123-ABC (lobster))
Disposition: Traded in for 2005 Saab (see tenth car).

74 Toyota Celica
My eighth car - a 1974 Toyota Celica ST. This was kind of an impulse purchase - after the Escort died and my family was down to "only" two cars, I started casually looking for something old and interesting to tinker with. I found this car online in Massachusetts and ended up buying it. It was a tremendously fun car to putter around in, but I quickly realized I didn't really have the time or ability to give it the attention it deserved. Plus, in the meantime I'd picked up another old heap, so something had to go. Sold this to a couple in Ontario who seemed very happy to get it, plus up to the task of restoration to its former glory. I think it's in good hands.

Owned: July, 2004-October, 2005
Miles Driven: 513 (171,388-171,901)
Plates: 3 (Maine 266-AAW (lobster), 21-905 (antique), 74 (antique))
Disposition: Sold.

84 Subaru GL
My ninth car - a 1984 Subaru GL wagon. Still harboring a fondness for these older-style Subarus like my old '86 hatchback, I was quite interested upon seeing an '84 wagon listed in Uncle Henry's Swap-n-Sell Guide. The car was bought new by a 65-year-old man in New Hampshire in 1984 and driven around 40,000 miles by the time it was sold in 2002 - I got it with 69,000 on it. Unfortunately, I also got it with quite a bit of rust on it, to the point where I had to send it to the junkyard about a year later.

Owned: May, 2005-June, 2006
Miles Driven: 2,760 (68,995-71,765)
Plates: 2 (Maine 5080 MX, C/R 1160K (loon))
Disposition: Junked (thanks,

05 Saab 92x
My tenth car - a 2005 Saab 9-2x Linear. This re-badged Subaru Impreza wagon was originally purchased to handle a my then 100-mile daily commute to work and ended up as my trusted traveling companion for more than the next 14 years. Easily the best car I've ever, or probably will ever, own, the venerable Saabaru provided over 260,000 miles of reliable service, visited 30 states, nine ALPCA conventions, and more than a few Zaxby's and Superchunk concerts. I was very much hoping to get it across the 300k threshold, but mounting rust issues on top of a broken (original) clutch and other costly repairs needed for inspection forced me to put it out to pasture early. A very sad day indeed.

Owned: June, 2005-September, 2019
Miles Driven: 260,340 (12-260,352)
Plates: 1 (Maine 15 Q)
Disposition: Sold to mechanic for $100.

81 Subaru DL
My eleventh car - a 1981 Subaru DL wagon. My Subaru wanderlust continued, leading me to purchase this thing from a seller on Craigslist Seattle and have it shipped from Washington. It was immediately dubbed "The Potato" by my wife and children due to its color and shape. Nice enough car aside from a wretchedly dirty and foul-smelling interior. Luckily, the nearly-pristine interior from my '84 wagon was freed up by the body rusting off around it, so a successful transplant was performed. And who wouldn't like a beige car with two-tone blue interior? This was my second car to get sent to Canada, having been sold to a fellow Subaru enthusiast from Québec to clear some driveway space for an even quirkier Subaru purchase (see thirteenth car).

Owned: March, 2006-December, 2006
Miles Driven: 139 (187,213-187,352)
Plates: 2 (Maine C/R 1163K (loon), 74 (antique auto))
Disposition: Sold.

64 Chevrolet Impala
My twelfth car - a 1964 Chevrolet Impala. Yeah, THIS made sense. Purchased under the well-known "It was for sale locally and I really wanted one when I was 12" corollary. I bought this with the intention of garaging it and getting it restored a bit at a time, which would've been a fantastic plan if I'd bothered to measure my garage first to see if it would fit. One guess how that worked out. Faced with the fact that the car would be reduced to dust after a couple more winters outdoors, I opted to let it go on eBay. It now lives in Georgia, where the roads are less salty and the garages are (presumably) at least a foot wider and longer.

Owned: October, 2006-December, 2006
Miles Driven: 19 (83,596-83,615)
Plates: 2 (Maine 505 PA, 364-AHA (custom vehicle))
Disposition: Sold.

79 Subaru
My thirteenth car - a 1979 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon. Uncle Henry's strikes again! Found this gem for sale and, despite already owning four cars at the time, had to go look at it. I believe I was about ten feet away from it when I spied the perfect-condition brown plaid seats and knew I'd be taking it home with me. Automotive love at first sight in its purest form, to the point that I immediately decided that I could sell all my other "extra" cars in order to make this one mine. Unfortunately, despite once claiming a desire to be buried in this car, the combined effects of increasingly difficult parts availability, a harsh winter spent outside with bad window seals, and a bad tank of gas clogging the fuel system finallt caused me to throw in the towel. It now lives in rural Connecticut with a new owner with more skill, patience and spare parts than I.

Owned: December, 2006-August, 2011
Miles Driven: 720 (80,661-81,381)
Plates: 10 (Maine 123-ABC (lobster), 32-143 (antique auto), 554-AGA (agriculture), C/R 3485L (loon), C/R QQQ (loon vanity), 505-ALA (breast cancer), C/R 4237L (loon), 478-AMA (pets), 45-350 (antique auto), C/R 9949L (loon))
Disposition: Sold.

2012 VW Golf
My fourteenth car - a 2012 Volkswagen Golf. This was an odd case where my new car was also my old car. Upon the demise of the Saabaru in September, 2019, several replacement options were on the table, none especially appealing for a two-tuition family. Oddly, the most sensible option ended up being buying a new car, which my wife is now driving on her longer commute, leaving the Golf she'd been driving for the past four years up for grabs. This old reliable base-model two-door hatchback should suit my motoring needs just fine for the next little while, assuming I ever get the front seat position dialed in.

Owned: September, 2015-present (in my care September, 2019-present)
Miles Driven: xxx (-127,300) (in my care circa 126,950)
Plates: 3 (Maine C/R 8435H (loon), C/R 14G (loon), C/R 542P (loon))
Disposition: Still owned.

Note: The concept for this page stolen wholesale from Bill Sproull. Thanks, Bill.

© Copyright 1998-2022 David Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

Last Modified 9/20/2019 (updated Saab, added Golf).