30 September 2014

Cars That Live Forever, World's Greatest Car Turns 20

Here we are in 1996 when both of us had fewer dents

This October marks the 20th birthday* of my little, red 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage.

We've had a few adventures over the years including moving more than 13 times in ten years, transporting an entire drum set, accidentally ending up in the bowels of the Hanford Nuclear Reserve, and getting pulled over at Christmastime - by an officer who wanted me to know that her festive holiday lights would be very distracting to colorblind people. When I asked if it would be okay if I replaced the colored lights with white ones, the officer replied MY NEIGHBOR IS COLORBLIND!



After nearly 175,000 miles, I'm glad to say our adventures continue. She got a new stereo this year (with bluetooth). The kid who installed it wasn't even been born the year my car was made, but that's okay. He admired my repurposing of the cassette storage console as an impromptu cup holder.

* In case you're wondering how I know her "birth" month, her manufacture info is on the inside of the driver's side door jam.

Exploring the California coast
Little Red and I first made each other's acquaintance in 1995. She was a repo, actually. One of these days I intend to find out where she came from before she found her way to a car dealership in Spokane.

In 1996 we passed the Washington state driver's test together. I still think it's the hardest driving test out there. One of the skills is backing around a corner while staying within 18 inches of the curb. I am not making this up.



Little Red has worn two more state license plates since then. I was pleased to get NW GRRL as my first vanity plate when I moved to California. I was not pleased when everyone thought it meant "new girl." Buying an I (heart) Oregon bumper sticker to clarify my vanity plate was not my finest moment as a creative writer. Oh well.

Things have been quieter since we moved to Orange County. These days Little Red only hauls scuba gear and groceries, and is generally more of a homebody. She makes the occasional trip to LA where she keeps me inconspicuous when I have to take a detour through Koreatown.




Pictured above is the Mirage ensconced in one of the many garages she has occupied over the years. I would like to take this moment to thank my various boyfriends and roommates past for giving Little Red first dibs on the single garage space. For all the haters: when you're old, I hope someone makes you f*cking live outside.

In the spirit of honoring lesser-known classic cars, I would also like to recognize a few other vehicles that never say die. It's unlikely you'll see any of the vehicles below at a car show, so it's time we put the spotlight on these beautiful beaters.

The Chevy Astrovan (1985 - 1995)
Whether it's in creeper blue or molestery white, the Chevy Astrovan remains a constant fixture in alleyways and school crossings.

chevy astrovan


The Ford Ranger ('93 - 2000 model years)
Loved by dive instructors from Hawai'i to Florida, the humble Ford Ranger endures. Seriously, these trucks practically have a cult following. The One Dolla video (1 mil+ views) has a whole bit on The Ford Ranger at the 1min 44 sec mark.




The Honda Accord (1990 - 1993)
Thinking back to my days as a carpool kid, I remember Dodge Caravans, Jeep Cherokees, and the occasional Previa. Where are these cars now? Nowhere! That's where. They were weak, but not so the Honda Accord. Damn, I think we squeezed four kids and two cellos in my The Nelson's Accord at one point.



Why is the 90's era Honda Accord still on the road? Why did the teal ones made it and the black ones did not? I don't know! I see one of these not-quite-green-and-not-exactly-blue wonders every effing day.

The Toyota Camry (1991-1996) 
Maybe it's not that weird a lot of 90's era Camrys are still on the road. It was one of the best-selling cars in the 90's... but the Saturn, Ford Taurus and the Ford Escort were also big sellers. Donde esta Dodge Neon? So where are these cars now? Not making pizza* deliveries in South Orange County. Not doing the business getting fry cooks and bus drivers to work every day. Nuh uh. 

*I'm told by a reputable source that silver Camrys deliver other substances as well.

What does Camry mean anyway? 

The Volvo 200 Series
Last but not least, I'd like to pay tribute to the Volvo 200 Series (1974 - 1993). It was my friend Gen's first car. We named it Tim? because the Volvo logo looks like a female symbol and we weren't sure if it was a boy or a girl. There's also a Monty Python reference there if you think about it.

Anyway, I've no doubt that Tim? is still on the road somewhere. These things are tanks! You don't seem them in SoCal so much, but I have to assume that's because they've all migrated north where they are truly appreciated.


I hope you've enjoyed this missive du mirage and other cars that history tries to forget. These work horses were never in it for the glory though. Just like their owners, I suppose.