Nascar is the biggest sport in America, believe it or not, and its roots originated here in the South. Illegal moonshiners in the mountains would spend their time and money on fast cars so they could outrun the law during transport. And over time, the pursuit became a national pastime.
Loyalties to different car brands were a badge of honor in those days. Ford people were Ford people and Chevy people were Chevy people. This brand loyalty has been carried forward to today as most Southerners identify with one car maker or another.
I’m an exception to the rule. I have zero car loyalty and I can prove it.
My first car ever was a six-year old 1982 Chevy Celebrity, a four-door old-person car that overheated at every other stoplight. My Dad bought it for me and all I had to worry about was putting gas in it so I had no complaints whatsoever. It was a great little car for its time and just happened to sponsor some pretty good necking sessions.
I bought my second car after a couple years in college, a two-year old 1989 Ford Mustang LX. It wasn’t a real Mustang but rather one of those four cylinders with a 2.3 liter engine. It was beautiful, though, with a deep blue color that matched my eyes.
My third car was a brand new 1996 Honda Accord EX, with a CD player, moonroof and electric everything. It was silver, got great gas mileage and rode like a charm. Even though I leased it, I loved my Honda Accord like it was my own son.
Next came a brand new 1999 Mercedes ML430. A 4.3 liter eight-cylinder SUV with all the bells and whistles that money could buy. It rode like a dream of a dream and with its all-wheel drive, it was always the only Mercedes out on the beach strand among the beat-up pickups and Jeeps.
Then, after losing my ass in business, I throttled back to a 1996 Eagle Vision. It was maroon with the exact body frame of a Dodge Intrepid and other than a slipping transmission, it was a great little car.
I graduated to a 1999 Nissan Maxima, forest green in color and great on gas mileage. This was the first car I installed an MP3 / CD player in so I could listen to two hundred songs without ever changing the CD.
Not once in my car-buying history have I ever owned a car from the same company twice. Chevy, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Eagle, Nissan. Half were American, half were foreign (pronounced "fern" in the deep South with as much disdain as you can muster through a mouthful of chewing tobacco). I do believe in certain loyalties (marriage, AMD PC’s, Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch, etc.) but it is painfully obvious that in the area of automobiles, I hold no allegiance.
Maybe I’ll get a Chrysler PT Cruiser or a Pontiac Aztec next time. We’ll see.
UPDATE: In January of 2009, I purchased a 2004 Pontiac Aztek and promptly (2 months later) installed a car radio that not only played MP3s, it played them from a USB drive or an SD card. Sweetness. And I must say, as much flack as the Aztek has gotten throughout the years, this is the absolutely best vehicle I have ever owned. Too bad they quit making them after a few years …