The Passion - Part Two - With the Car, so goes my Life
As can be seen from part one of my blog, the Ford Mustang played quite a pivotal role in my car enthusiast life. It was literally everywhere. Before getting my own car, my friend Roger who I have known my entire life, bought both a four cylinder hatchback and then a 5.0L V8 GT convertible, driving down to my Parents house to pick me up. These are things that I both don't forget and that pushed me into the sports car and racing world.
As with all things however, the Mustang also came to an end. As did my sports car and racing world with it.
Due to some "challenges", my car insurance was now more expensive than my car. With some luck, the other part of my working hard in Highschool goal, to get into University, actually came in handy. Being away for school I didn't need a car (as much anyway). Plus, I was fortunate enough to have roommates who did have cars. Of course, I still missed driving terribly, but this made it somewhat easier. After University ended, I was finally able to get back into a car, finding something I could both afford and actually manage to pay my insurance at the same time. I did my research and found the 1992 Honda Civic Si was my best choice. I found an excellent used example, just like my Mustang, and also just like my Mustang, it was white. Pearl white in fact. The owner had just found out he and his girlfriend were having a baby, and his now freshly painted car and brand-new aftermarket chrome wheels and summer tires were mine. There was no history of accidents (the painted car was a red flag) and I was quite sure all was well when I saw the pained look on his face when letting it go. I am still searching for pictures of this car, which I had for at least four years, and it served me very, very well to over 350,000 KM's.
After (finally) finding a career, many years later, I was able to start buying even better cars. Sticking with Honda, next was a 1999 Prelude SH, in a sort of gun metal grey with black leather interior (a first for me). I loved that car. It had 200 HP and with VTEC, Hondas variable valve technology, it had a certain "kick" that made driving the car fun. It also handled extremely well and was super smooth as a daily driver. It was also the only car I had ever had stolen. IN this case, it was partially my fault, I was at the gym and my keys had fallen out of my pocket. Two kids saw this opportunity, picked up my keys and took off in the car. They were fairly stupid however, and came back towards the gym as a part of their escapade and were promptly caught by the Police I had just called. It was only about a 25 minute joy ride but that was enough time for them to burn five cigarette holes into my first ever black leather seats. The punks got off too because the Prosecutor wasn't the sharpest tool in the courtroom. Each said the other stole the car and she did little to mount a case to dispute their defense.
My Prelude was, well, also a prelude to another dark time in my driving career. It was at this moment in time that I first realized my car ownership mirrored how I was doing in my life, and not necessarily just financially (although that helped). If my life was in a healthy state, so was the type of car I was driving; meaning it was a car I enjoyed. The opposite was unfortunately also true.
Fast forward to the time I met a steady girlfriend and my car went from the 1999 Honda Prelude SH, to a Ford Escape. I remember getting it and thinking (or perhaps convincing myself) - "this is a COOL ride!". It is a Ford after all. And as my girlfriend said oh so logically, it was a very practical choice. MUCH more practical than my Prelude! Yes, it all made perfect sense. When I showed this car at work however, one of my co-workers stated that I had bought "a girl’s car". Beyond what I thought was a sexist comment and completely inappropriate, my back still straightened, and I said that the Escape was a Ford truck and was pretty cool actually! He promptly got up from his desk and brought back a magazine with a Ford advertisement; a two page spread as I remember it. On the one side was a Ford Explorer, driven by a smiling man. On the other side was my Ford Escape; driven by a smiling woman. As if a spell had been broken, I realized with a jolt that I had made a terrible mistake. I didn't like practical. Not when it came to what I drive. Ford or not.
I am sorry to say, but things only got worse.
As my relationship grew in seriousness, so did my car selection wane. From the Ford Escape came a 2001 Acura 1.7EL. At that time, basically a four door Civic with fake leather interior. I hated that car. Every time I got into it. It sapped the car enthusiast right out of me. I would have gladly taken my 1980 Tercel over this car. That car at least had some "fun" injected into it. This car was everything I was not when it came to driving. Practical, boring, slow, and entirely too good on fuel mileage. When my relationship ended, like it was somehow connected to the string of cars I bought during that period, the car literally quit on me as well. The transmission blew and was more expensive to fix than the car was worth. I was at a serious car low point. But with being single again for the first time in a long time, came a certain financial freedom. That combined with great friends and a perfectly placed one at that, allowed me to have choices I didn't even consider. As they say, it is darkest before the car dawn. It was late October 2009.
My best friend Hugh's student, Paul, happened to work at Infiniti/Nissan. From dreading the thought of another in poor shape, used boring car, I realized that without having a home and a ton of payments to meet anymore, that I could lease a new car, especially with the price Paul so generously gave me. Please understand, I am not putting down practical cars, or being frugal with cost when it comes to buying a car. These are all important and beneficial things. Some people don't really care what car they drive. It's just transportation to them. I, however, am a car enthusiast, and that means I am happiest in cars that I enjoy driving. It isn't even tied to the cars value. Just how it makes me feel when driving it. Enjoying a drive doesn’t matter to everyone, but it does for me.
My hands literally shook when I first grabbed hold of the steering wheel and took my first ever new(!) car for a test drive. The step between my last car and this car was almost too much for my brain to handle. It was emotional, but in a very, very, good way. I drove that car non-stop for what seemed like weeks. The 2009 Infiniti G37S was the best car I had ever owned in my life. Nothing was even close to it. It was sporty and luxurious and actually pretty quick. I took it to Cayuga, Toronto Motorsports Park and ran a 13.9-14.2 ET with it - about the same as my 1988 Mustang LX 5.0 litre. At first my parents thought it was excessive. Especially my Father. He had always been about saving for that rainy day - something he picked up from my Grandmother (his Mom) who always would state the same thing to me. It was always "better to save". You can always spend money on yourself...later. It didn’t stop my car-loving Dad from really liking this car however. ON the one and only drive I took him on, the first day I picked the new car up from the Dealership, he slowly turned to me and with a slight smile said, "maybe I can buy it when your lease is done". The G37S looked a little like the Lexus GS400, which my Father really liked and once spoke about buying. "Some day" of course, but not today. He would never get that chance unfortunately, to get his GS400, or my car after the lease was over.
My Father, Anthony Charles Tedes, passed away less than two weeks later.
This time however, I would use one of the darkest periods in my life to enable a new, positive outlook on living. And I would literally bring my Father along for the ride with me.