The Army years
1980 Dodge Omni (Ugly) - our first car on our own. Bought this one through the PX in Germany. Was looking for a Toyota or perhaps a cheap used car, when the Dodge dealership suckered me into this classic POS (I used to favor Plymouth/Chryslers based upon my experience with the Furys). 2 door hatchback with a moonroof (leaked) and yellow & black paint pattern. I shoulda seen this disaster coming when, within 6 weeks of buying her, the battery blew up in the engine compartment spraying battery acid all over the inside. I had that think in for service/warranty work several times in the short 2 years I owned her. I think, after a year, we decided it wasn’t going to get any better and we cut our losses and I sold it to one of my sergeants. I really did not want to stick it with him but his wife drove it and she fell in love with it and would not take no for an answer. I sold it to them (young couple with 2 kids) with my own comments/cautions. He never did pay me the remaining $400 for the car and I had heard a rumor it caught fire in the PC parking lot one day, so I did not feel right about trying to get the remaining money. Up to this point, I used to be a Dodge/Plymouth guy, but after dealing with this turd, I decided to go in a different direction.
1982 Volvo 244 GL (Blue) - our first REAL car (ok, I’m declaring a mulligan on the Omni). A metallic blue 4 door GL with a sunroof. It had those big 80’s 5 mile-an-hour bumpers that would take a direct hit from a tank without suffering any damage. I bought this directly from an off-post dealer that specialized in European cars (BMW, Porsche, Volvo, Saab). We test drove a BMW 321 and a Mercedes 240D, but liked the handling of the Volvo. Besides, I was told that Mercedes had a 6 month waiting list. We ordered our car directly from the factory in Gotenburg, Sweden and made plans to go to the factory to pick it up. Note: IF you ever have a chance to do this trek, DO IT. It was a fantastic trip. We took a cross country train to Bremen and then a overnight ferry across the north sea to Sweden. The guys from the factory picked us up and the dock and took us to the factory to introduce us to our car. The whole experience is first class and you get to tour the factory and see how your car was built. The end of the day, we signed for our car and drove back to the ferry to head back to Germany. For the next 8 days, we drove all over northern Germany/Belgium touring the wine country, hitting a few castles and breaking our new car in. One of the BEST vacations ever! We drove the Volvo for several years all over Germany & France before we finally shipped her back to the states. Took 6 weeks, but I picked her up in the port of Houston and was driving her all around Texas. Was a good car for a young family, but it was not the best for the Texas summers. During the summer, when it was brutally hot down here, it took a while for a/c to the car to cool off. Had 135,000 miles on her before she started showing any real problems. Being an engineer, I loved to work on her. I did the brakes, oil changes, plugs, radiator, windows, water pump, timing belt. This car was designed & build by engineers. Everything comes apart in a sequence and, if you deviate from the sequence, it won’t work. After 11 years, two continents, and 140,000 well worn miles, I reluctantly traded her in for 1993 Camry.
Time for a second second car. Next round: the Dallas Years