Glass Half Full: Vehicles say a lot about people |

Glass Half Full: Vehicles say a lot about people

Ruth Glass
Glass Half Full

The last brand new car I purchased was in 2000, a snappy “patriot pearl” red Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Sunday I went car shopping, fully expecting a browsing experience.

Had you asked me a week ago, I would have said I was in the market for a late model used vehicle. Which doesn’t explain why I now own a 2018 Toyota Rav4 in “black currant.” As a friend noted, they had me at “black currant.”

While my husband and I have owned a number of cars during our 49-year marriage, buying a new one was a relative rarity. If I count correctly, we’ve owned 13 cars, starting with an inherited 1959 grey Buick that we painted green and called, “The Greening of America.”

My parents picked up a brand new midnight blue MGB-GT in Germany that we purchased and drove it around Europe for a couple of months, but I count that as new.

After moving to Tucson, a white 1960 Ford pickup replaced the MG and provided more space for our growing family. The pickup was replaced by a brand new yellow pop-top VW camper, which we owned for 14 years and many happy miles.

While speed was never its strength, and drafting behind semis was the best way to climb hills on highways, I could randomly park in even the largest lot and find the vehicle with no problem. Plus, the “kitchen” and bench seat allowed for storage of all kinds of equipment, from can openers to baseball mitts to sleeping bags. I still miss that camper.

The years between the pop-top and the Rav4 included a haze of used rental cars, all serviceable and appreciated, but nothing memorable until the “gently used” red Thunderbird with black leather interior and 5-speed stick shift.

Serviceable? I think not, but certainly a celebration of moving through the years of young children and into the empty nest phase, which definitely has advantages. The aforementioned Spyder replaced “T for 2” just prior to our move to Southern California. When it was stolen six years later, I replaced it with a 2001 silver model, which I traded for a Mazda Miata four years ago. Stick shift convertibles fit Lake Tahoe driving at least half of the year.

For some folks, the vehicles they drive are simply conveniences. For many of us, our choices are more a reflection of personality and make a statement about driving in general. Think back to the very first car you owned, the one you actually purchased yourself.

For many, just the thought of what was very likely second-hand and possibly even needed a push to jumpstart still evokes very special and appreciative memories. Those vehicles bespoke independence and a sense of growing up.

Likely, we had no choice in color and “bells and whistles” didn’t exist. As I explore my brand new, beautiful car and recognize it will take months to find and figure out all the doodads, I appreciate the cars that brought me to this moment.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at