Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

My Favorite Car - And Least Favorite

Posted May 22, 2006

What is your favorite car of all-time? What car do you wish you never purchased? Well, I remember the smell, the look and the over-the-top style of the 1957 Chevy Bel Air. My mother and father bought this classic car at Cutting-Cross Chevrolet in Morganton. It was too cool with its tailfins, hooded headlights and V-8 Ramjet fuel injection engine. The mayor of Morganton once took me for a ride in his 1962 Corvette. That was a thrill. But when my wild childhood friend Hunt Riddle took he out in his '67 Corvette Stingray on I-40 to see how fast she would go I clearly felt we would take off like a Piedmont Airlines jet. My first car as a student was a beaten up Volkswagen Beetle sold to me with a blown head gasket. What a pain that was! The dealer tried to make things up by selling me a Corvair, one of the worst of Chevy's inventions. Once while traveling home from UNC with a beautiful young lady I was trying to impress, my Corvair broke down three times. Needless to say that planned romance never blossomed. My first new car was a Toyota Corolla which I absolutely loved. The dumbest thing I ever did in it was drive down Hillsborough Street the night NC State beat Marquette for the national basketball championship. Students jumped on top of the car and almost turned it over. I escaped. Why me as a target? I forgot. My Carolina blue Corolla had a UNC decal on the rear windshield. Duh! Later I traded in my great little Corolla for a cooler car which turned out to be a lemon. My silver Ford Mustang had all sorts of engine and mechanical problems. My bad luck continued when I lived in Houston. We bought a Chevy Vega at A.J. Foyt Chevrolet. It quickly became one of the worst investments of my life. As a radio news director I was provided company transportation for several years and I can't really remember too much about those vehicles except they were boring. I struck gold in 1984 when I bought a Volvo DL with stick shift. It was my favorite car until the one I bought last year. I loved the firm strength of the Volvo and the safety factor. Plus, it was beige which seemed to fit right in along the streets of Cary! I felt like I could drive through just about anything in his cherished vehicle. I put 200,000 miles on that car and with the help of mechanic Paul Smith of Cary kept it running in great shape with very few repairs. Critics called the Volvo boxy but I thought it was beautiful. The 1995 Ford Windstar van was a smooth ride but riddled with expensive problems. I liked my '98 Ford Explorer and the way it got me to work in that 22 inch snowfall of 1999. But again, like the other Fords I have owned maintenance and frequent repairs were ridiculously expensive. I currently own a silver Honda Pilot and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I need an SUV because my job requires me to get to work during all types of weather. Plus, I have a cabin in the mountains and I need access to a steep ridge. The Pilot is a smooth and powerful ride. Everything about the vehicle is carefully crafted. I don't think I would give it up.....even for a blue '57 Chevy.

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Bill Leslie