As I made my way down to Sacramento from the California Central Valley town of Merced, I looked down at the odometer and it read 250,000 miles. That's a quarter of a million miles of driving since my family bought the car brand new in December of 1999. Little did I know as we drove home from the dealership that day, that this little automatic Honda Civic Sedan would still be in our family 15 years later and humming along happily like it always has. This article is about when cars become more than cars and in some small way, become part of your life for better and for worse (in this case, seemingly always for the better)
We needed a reliable and cheap on gas commuter car to fill in for the 1989 Hyundai Excel which left our family after blowing it's engine on a trip to Southern California. My father had rebuilt that Hyundai's engine at least twice and replaced the headgasket more times then he wants to remember. So what we bought had to be the epitome of reliability. A bad salesman at Volkswagen swayed us away from the Jetta and we immediately made our way to the number two choice, the Honda dealership. This particular Civic sedan that offered exceptional value was aptly called the Value Package. It was the exact same trim level as a DX but had air conditioning, power doors ( now not working) and keyless entry. Clover Green Pearl in color and foregoing the complimentary detail, we drove it home the same day we stepped in the dealership. And so began the long odyssey of ownership that many Honda owners can atest to.
First my Mother drove it. With a 100 mile round trip to and from work from Union City to Vallejo, this is where the little Civic gained most of its mileage. For more than 3 solid years for weeks on end, my Mom made that commute without fail. And on the weekends, we would use it to go to Church and various other trips to the mall and to eat out.
Next, my Father took the reins of the sedan for about 2 years driving to and from Oakland as he worked at Oakland's postal distribution center at night. During the day, he would use it to pick me up from Cross Country practice after school. By this time I was in high school. And when we had overnight trips out of town for school, sports or church, this little Civic sedan would be the frugal vehicle of choice.
By this time, my family picked up a Mazda MPV van, so my Mom was driving that now.
After my father left working in Oakland, my Brother took the wheel and used it as his commuter car to college in Hayward. It wasn't a far drive, but he would take it wherever he wanted and used it as he pleased. During his time with the Civic, the rear fender and upper control arms where damaged after a side collision with another car.
About this time, I also started learning how to drive in the Civic. The fender was cheaply repaired and spray painted green so it wasn't the prettiest sedan. My father would take me out to Moffett Field to flog the car around the base. Secretly at night, with just a learners permit I admit I drove it around for fun.
By the time I got my license, I was in college and drives to and from Merced ( where I decided to go to school) all where in the Civic. My brother had effectively given it to me by this time, and I was thoroughly enjoying my time with it. I got to know how slow it truly was and how much freedom it afforded.
An internship in Southern California brought the Civic and I to countless trips to the beach, company dinners and in contact with a local Honda community they had locally. By this time, I had different rims, lowered it and added an exhaust and intake.
This Civic has become my faithful companion on countless trips from and to the Bay Area and all around California. Maintenance has been cheap and predictable and the only biggest repair (a new transmission) was my fault (countless neutral drops when I didn't know any better).
Because of this Civic, I never hesitate to recommend a Honda to my fellow friends and family. I'll probably buy another Honda when I start making my own money.
So here's to Honda and the're reliable cars. And here's to another quarter of a million miles of driving.