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NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Next to buying a house, buying a car is one of the biggest investments the average person will make. The similarities include new sticker shock and the ongoing money hole that comes with old houses and used cars, not to mention endless payments. We may someday see a 40-year "mortgage" on your new gas guzzler.
My one-time boss summed up life and cars: "During a man's lifetime, he will need one true love, two doctors, three dogs, 16 cars and 128 tires." If he's right, I've had too many dogs and not enough cars, although it could be argued that a few of those cars were dogs.
You hardly ever hear someone talking about their worst car ever. That's usually thanks to the greater fool theory with which all investors become familiar. But ask someone, any guy especially, about his favorite car and be prepared for a dissertation on that old beauty that ran like gold and never had a problem until, oh, fill in in the fate: It was stolen, or T-boned, or didn't fit with a growing, or shrinking family.
The first car I bought with my own money was when I paid $250 for a 1963
VW Bug, in 1972. I wanted that old, gray car so bad that it didn't matter that I couldn't handle a clutch or drive a shift. Before I could move it anywhere, I sat in the driveway and cranked the canvas sunroof open and closed!
And 41 years later, I'm on my ninth car, as near as I can remember.
That gray Bug got me through my senior year, and to my first job, at $2.25 an hour, until I traded it up for a '71 semi-automatic M&M-orange-colored Bug, which I drove until an icy road and my forehead turned the windshield into a mosaic.
I graduated to a '75 Datsun B210. It was M&M green. When it was new, we drove it to Indiana and almost made it home when we had a blowout in the front-left tire, about 5 miles from home, on a giant hill near "Pleasant Valley Way on a Sunday," in West Orange, N.J. Carole King never wrote a song about a Datsun, but it wasn't that far removed from a lawn mower.