Guest Opinion -- Owen
Okay, so given a choice between studying property law and writing a final
car review, guess which one wins. The car that I learned to drive in was a
1987 Toyota Tercel wagon that went thirteen years without needing anything
replaced except the clutch (twice) the brake pads(twice) and the tires
(twice). Then everything went at once. Shocks, struts, CV joints, clutch,
brakes, and to top it off, a small patch of rust appeared around the
nameplate at the back. Oh, and the engine needed a rebuild. All at about
160,000 km. But they were hard klicks. All city, with the exception of a
one way trip from Vancouver to Calgary, two round trips to Drumheller, and
two round trips Calgary to Banff. Not to mention the two teenaged boys who
learned to drive in it.
How did it run? Well, it was reliable, and had a lot of cargo space. Was
it any fun? Well, put five teenagers in it going to get a slurpee or to the
Sentry Box, and yeah, it was a blast.
But did it handle? Well, we called it Tippy for a reason. Was it fast? It
had exactly the same engine as Tubby, but an extra, oh, like, 800-1000
pounds to drag around. So what you're saying is that it was not a fun car?
Yes. That is what I'm saying. As plain Jane transportation that would get
30 mpg in the city and swallow a sofa with the seats folded it scored a 10,
but as far as tossing it around goes, it was a touch twitchy in corners.
The only thing that saved it was that the replacement tires my mom got were
so narrow and had so little grip that the front end would plow like a John
Deere, usually before you could get it up on two wheels. This tended to
cause me to drive more sedately than I otherwise would. Of course, it
didn't stop my brother from driving it like a maniac until he caught a 180
on a slippery on-ramp, leaving us driving the wrong way on a one way ramp
which was too narrow due to recent snowplowing to pass any oncoming car. We
missed the idiot who didn't even slow down for us by about three feet once
we managed to get out onto a wider part.
Of course, that wasn't the only adventure my brother had in this car. He
peeled the front left quarter panel off on a post in a parking lot, and got
rear-ended hard enough to throw the car halfway across an intersection (no
damage on that one amazing enough)
I think what best sums up the styling of this car is the time we were over
at a friend's house, and his mom came down into the basement where we were
all hanging out, and asked "Who owns a blue Toyota station wagon?" to which
my brother replied, "Oh, that's me, do you need me to move it?" To which my
friend's mom replied, "No, I just wanted to know who would be seen driving a
Toyota station wagon."
Kinda pathetic eh?
But all that notwithstanding, it was the first car I ever drove, and that
counts for something.
What it counts for today is three and a half pints of mass-market macrobrew
Canadian lager beer. Reliable and inexpensive, but totally uninspiring in
any way. It will get you where you're going, and take your friends there
too, all with a minimum of fuss, but you wouldn't really want to be seen
drinking it in public.