The Vehicles I have Driven
I recently took a trip back home to Louisiana where my mother presented me with a box of old photographs that I forgot about long ago. I have updated the pictures with pictures of the actual cars.
The first motorized vehicle I ever drove was an Allstate 125. This was a small 2 stroke motorcycle that my brother gave up riding because he had so much trouble with it. Well, being a mechanical person, I figured out why it wouldn’t run and fixed it. I think I was 14 when I started riding.
The very first CAR I ever drove was a 1950 Red Ford coupe, with a 3 speed transmission. I learned to drive this car when I was 16 by just driving it around the front driveway of my Parents house. My dad would leave the keys in it, so I would just go out and practice driving it when they were not around. After a while I got pretty good just driving it around, backing up, and parallel parking. After driving this car for several months, my dad started to notice the extra miles on the car. It was then that he signed me up for drivers education at the high school I attended. I aced the class in no time and got my drivers license.
After I got my license, I bought a used Honda motorcycle. A Red Honda 305 Dream. This motorcycle had a 2 cylinder 4 stroke engine. I drove this motorcycle for 3 years of high school. One of the few black students in my school and I became fast friends. We would go everywhere together. I was criticized for catering to a black man, but I didn’t care. I even took his sister to the senior prom. We are still friends, and I visit them when I go back home. After high school, I enlisted into the Air Force. After basic training, I came home on leave then drove this bike back to my next duty station in Del Rio Texas. It was a 600 mile trip and I drove it without a bit of trouble. I drove this motorcycle back home several times. One time I drove it home for Christmas vacation. On the trip, there was a freezing rain on almost the whole trip. I had stopped in San Antonio at a truck stop to warm up. As I was leaving, a truck driver offered to let me trail his truck to keep out of the freezing rain. For nearly 350 miles, I stayed behind this big 18 wheeler, out of the rain and wind. It was great.
While I was in the Military, I got the chance to get a real economy car. I purchased a used Honda 600 Sedan. It was the smallest car I had ever seen, and it was a blast to drive. It had a fabulous heater! I kept this car to drive back home to Louisiana about once a month.
Later, I got a job at the local Yamaha dealer as a part time mechanic. While there, the owner got a franchise for Honda motorcycles then another one for Honda cars. This was when I bought my first NEW car. A Silver 1974 Honda Civic 4 speed. I got it with all the available bells and whistles (none).
While I was working at the Yamaha shop, I purchased an SC500 motocross motorcycle that I rode with friends.
In 1978 I bought a 1976 Honda Accord hatchback. I kept this car for about a year. After that time, My Snap-on tool man was retiring and his truck was going to be for sale. After a little haggling, I made arrangements to trade my 1976 Accord for his 1973 Stepvan.
In 1979 I bought a new Black 1979 Honda Prelude. This car was a new model for Honda and I got a good deal on this one. It was one of the first black 5 speed models sold in the Southern California area. When I first found out that Honda was coming out with a new model, I put a deposit down at the dealership where I was working at the time. When the cars finally came in on March 15, 1979, I went into the office to make the deal for one. When I was told that the price would be $2000 higher than the window sticker, I was reasonably upset. After all, I had been working there for almost 3 years, and I thought that I could get a better deal than someone just walking in off the street. I walked out, got my deposit back and went to lunch. I went over to another dealer where a good friend was a salesman there. When I arrived, I asked him if he had any black 5 speed Preludes left. He told me that the boss had just left for lunch in the last one. Well, I went ahead and made the deal for window sticker price. Since the boss was still out to lunch, I insisted that he write across the invoice “Car to be delivered as equipped”. We sat around waiting for the boss to return. After about 2 hours, he drove back in with the car. It seems that he had taken the car to a custom wheel shop, and had special chrome wheels put on the car. My friend, the salesman, looked at me and said “you lucky guy, you just got a set of mag wheels for FREE. I returned to work with my new Prelude and parked it right out front, with the other dealer plates still attached.
About 3 months later, I made the decision to go into business for myself, so I purchased my 1973 Chevy van 4 speed from my former Snap-on tool man. I should say traded, because I traded my 1976 Honda Accord straight across for his van. He was retiring and going into sales and he needed an economy car. This was the first day of business for HDABOB’s Mobile Service.
The next year I married my wife with her 3 kids. They didn’t really fit in the Prelude, so in 1982, I traded up to a Brown 1982 Honda Accord 4 door 5 speed. This car served my family very well for 12 years. When I traded in the Prelude, it had about 50,000 miles on it. The salesman was a good friend of mine. I had been replacing engines in cars for him and the dealer he worked for, for several months before I traded my Prelude in. After about a week, he called me up saying that a customer had taken it out for a test drive and that it was smoking badly. I asked him what they did to it. He said that they just serviced it and put it up on the lot. I asked him what oil they used and he said he didn’t know but would check and call me back. He called a few minutes later saying they had put Pennzoil 10/30 oil in the engine. I told him to dump that out and put in Castrol 20/50 GTX. Then I told him that if it still smoked, I would rebuild the engine for nothing. He called me back about a week later saying that the car was sold and NOT smoking at all. He got almost $1000 more than I traded it in for.
About the same time, I purchased a 1974 Honda Civic 5 speed. This car was purchased as a project car. I wanted to see how far I could modify it while still keeping it street legal. I rebuilt the engine for highest performance and installed a dual carburetor setup. I installed wider tires, then had wide fender flares molded into the body with a custom paint job. The suspension was beefed up to handle the wider tires. I added custom seats, with Simpson seat belts. I then installed a powerful stereo system. I sold this car soon after it was finished. The guy I sold it to always wanted a small sports car, but he was just learning to drive a stick transmission. It wasn’t a month before I had to replace the clutch in the car.
For a business service vehicle, I drove another motorcycle: a 1982 Honda CX-500. I used this bike for minor services and the Chevy van for the bigger jobs.
In 1986 I purchased a used Blue 1985 Honda Civic Station wagon 4WD to work out of. In 1990, when my youngest son became 17, I turned this car over to him.
For my next service vehicle, I purchased a used Black 1985 Honda CRX Si 5 speed. When I purchased it, I replaced the engine with a high performance double overhead cam engine. It had a custom paint job. This car was by far the most fun to drive. I drove this service vehicle for several years, at least until I got caught in a multicar crash on the freeway. It was hard to let this car go, but the insurance totaled it.
In April 1994, I purchased an Accord EX 4 door 5 speed for the wife. It has over 200,000 miles on it now and it is still in new condition.
In 1996, I replaced the CRX with a White 1991 Honda Accord LX Station wagon. I was able to put most of my tools in this car. It had a storage box on the roof that I used to store parts for the jobs I had. I drove this car until it was crashed into and totaled by a pickup truck while I was stopped at a red light.
- Custom rear paint job
- Pressurized air tanks under the vehicle
- Dual-battery system
- Frantz oil filter system (it uses toilet paper!)
- Blaring Truck horn
- 1500-watt inverter to power notebook computer, printer, etc.
- Solar panel to keep the batteries fully charged (thankful for sunny SoCal!)
- Outlets for 120 volts in front and rear
- Removed rear seats to make room for a custom enclosure
It’s too bad it only lasted a little over 5 years. I really liked the Element for it’s size, it’s spacious interior, and it’s very tight turning radius.
It came to it’s end on the streets of Los Angeles one Sunday afternoon being rearended while I was stopped at a red light. The floor was buckled, so the insurance totaled it.
My Newest Service Vehicle is a 2011 Honda Pilot EX V6 2WD Automatic in Deep Cherry Pearl color.
One of the first things I did was install a brake light modulator. This causes the brake lights to blink 5 times before coming on full. I hope this gets the attention of anyone following me to stay back a reasonable and safe distance.
The air compressor is located where the 4WD differential usually sits. This compressor keeps the 3 air tanks on-board (total capacity is about 20 gallons) to 140 PSI. Perfect for blasting my 3 air horns. I installed an air compressor system in the back for inflating tires and other stuff. Naturally I had to wire all the controls in. But before I started I used my military training as an aircraft electrician and sat down and wrote out a wiring diagram for what I wanted it to do. After getting everything in and trying it out, I realized that some of the wiring didn’t work like I thought it would. I had to go back and redo a couple of circuit elements to get it to work like I wanted.
Well, iCircuit to the rescue. I found this nice simple app in the app store Called iCircuit. iCircuit is an iPad and iPhone app for designing and experimenting with circuits. The advanced simulation can test both analog and digital circuits. It also has real time analysis that is always on. You can us iCircuit just like you would use a CAD program. You can add elements, hook them together and configure their properties as you need. Since it is always simulating, you can add and remove elements with the power still on. A multimeter is always on to tell you what the values are. There are over 30 design elements to work with. It has everything from switches, relays, and lights all the way to digital amplifier circuits. Check the samples and build your circuit from there. The parameters of each tools can be modified to suit your circuit. In other words you can change a relay from two contacts to as many contacts that you need. As well as changing polarities and voltage values. What is nice about icircuit is, it allows me to construct a circuit and test it, all while the power is on. It also tells you while you were building the circuit if that particular device will not work the way you have it wired. (In other words if you have a short or open circuit). As a test, I rewrote my circuit for the compressor in iCircuit and found out where I went wrong. After I was done I was able to make a copy of the entire circuit, print it out and then keep it in the maintenance records with my service manual.
A trailer hitch allows me to tow my compact trailer to the job site with a minimum of effort.
A Frantz oil filter system (uses a standard roll of toilet tissue) installed in the transmission cooler line. This not only keeps the transmission cooler but keeps the transmission oil very clean. I did not install a Frantz filter system on the engine because the oil and filter is very easy to change every 5,000 miles, about the same time I replace the transmission filter.
I removed the 2nd row seats and wrapped them in shrink-wrap and put them up on the shelf in my garage.
The big box that was made for the Element fit perfectly in the place of the second row seat.
The set of air tanks fit behind the big box and in front of the toolbox. All are securely attached at multiple points.
With the addition of a 850W inverter for 120V AC Power at a moments notice, with additional outlets located behind the center console.
A K&N air filter replaces the original air filter.
The full size solar cell on the roof keeps both Optima batteries fully charged. A battery monitor under the hood keeps an eye on both batteries.
The license plates are the original HDABOB plates I got when I had the 1976 Honda Accord Hatchback and later transferred to my Chevrolet Shop Truck. The original blue and yellow paint on the plates was refreshed good as new.
Since I carry a substantial load all the time, the rear tires were wearing out prematurely, so I installed a camber kit in the rear to compensate for the extra load. Besides saving tires, my mileage improved due to lower rolling resistance.
I just hope that no one hits me from the rear again…I have lost the last three vehicles to drivers who were not paying attention.