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Patch Drives: I Think I'm Ready For a Relationship

I need to put my vehicular demons to bed and begin my search for the perfect car for my family. Armed with a compatibility checklist and optimism, I'm ready to make a love connection.

Editor's note: This is the second in a series.

I’m not really a car person. 

I feel like I just offended half of southeast Michigan with that statement. I know it’s not right. Living in Metro Detroit and confessing to being not really a car person ... it’s not right. That’s why this journey to find the right car for my family is a bit challenging. That’s why your help is greatly appreciated.

Last week, I told my story in the kickoff to this new series on Patch. In , you heard all about the many reasons I need to break up with the full-size van that has worked for my family of six up until now.

Over the past 22 years, I have driven a lot of different cars, never really falling in love or making a deep connection with any of them. It was always just something that got me from point A to point B. I drove small cars like my Ford Escort. I drove big cars like my vintage 1984 Pontiac Parisienne. Aside from getting a little braggy about my super amazing parallel parking ability (in any size vehicle), I never really cared what I drove.

I sound like such a player — a real love 'em and leave 'em type of girl. Maybe it was the one that got away that made me this way. 

Yeah, once there was this really cool car – all shiny, new and fancy. The kind of car that gets a girl noticed in a crowd of other cars. And that car was all mine:  a 1992 Mazda MX-3. It was a graduation gift from my father; it was sweet. And did I mention it was all mine? Until it wasn’t.

That dope ride of mine was stolen. Leaving me alone, confused and without a ride.

Can we go on a date?

Fast forward 20 years, four kids and here we are. I am ready to tackle my vehicular demons and really commit to a fulfilling auto relationship.

As I prepare to test drive my first vehicle I put together a compatibility checklist to take with me. Here it is:

  • Chemistry: Does it feel right? This may be one of those things I find out right away or it may take a drive around the block. I need to listen to my gut on this one.
  • Appearance: How will this look in my driveway? And the highway? My standards are very low, but I do have some. I refuse to drive a yellow car, not really into pastels either.  
  • Lifestyle: Will it fit my lifestyle, which consists of carefree weekend trips up north to my cottage, where I sometimes like to take Sunday drives around the lake.  OK, wait, that’s not my lifestyle. Mine goes more like this: load kids and sports bags, run errands, unload kids, watch baseball game, load kids and sports bags, unload kids, drop off child at gymnastics, load kids, unload kids, grocery shop, load kids, unload kids, don’t forget child at gymnastics, and so on and so on. Will it work with that?
  • Affordability: Is it reasonably priced and will the gas tank size break the bank this summer? Even though I hate caring about gas mileage and such, in these times and with four busy kids, it matters.

So here I go, armed with my checklist and optimism. I’m ready for car love. I’m ready to make a match. Thank you for playing the role of Chuck Woolery and helping me navigate the road to my love connection.  

Next week: Patch readers seem to have a love-it-or-leave-it attitude toward the Ford Flex (is it really that boxy?). Regardless, it was the vehicle that was most recommended to me last week, so I'll take it on a first date and let you know what I think.

Patch Drives is ; the cars Youngblood chooses to test will be at her discretion and not affiiated with any advertising relationships.

Kristin Bull (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM
My first car was a bright red Pontiac Sunfire. It was a gift from my parents on my college graduation day - they wrapped up the key and had me walk around campus to try to find which car it unlocked :) I drove the car for 9 years -- pretty much until I was 9 months pregnant with my son and realized my life would be a lot easier if I had something with four doors!
Nancy Hanus April 26, 2012 at 01:26 PM
My first car was a '72 Pontiac Lemans. It was such a sweet car – a hand-me-down from an uncle. I didn't realize at the time how lucky I was to have such a great car. I sometimes wish I'd had that car a little later when I could appreciate it more! I DID appreciate, 10 years later, my 1989 black, Probe GT Turbo though. First stick shift, first car with a great stereo. Oh, that car was fun!
Sherry April 26, 2012 at 01:45 PM
2 yrs ago, my husband, through work, was able to lease an Audi A4 convertible. we had it for 6mos, through the summer. i LOVED that car, more than a person should love any non-living object. then, like all things, good or bad, the lease ended, and i am left w/a minivan and a keen understanding of why people are passionate about nice convertibles!!!
Mark H. Stowers April 26, 2012 at 02:12 PM
...get a used Volvo...
Jen Anesi April 26, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Kristin, that's a great graduation present, and how fun that they made you search for it!! My first car (when I turned 16 in 1999) was a blue 1987 Toyota Corolla – a hand-me-down from my cousin. I LOVED that car, even though the brakes failed a couple times and it leaked oil and the AC didn't work most of the time and it overheated and the cruise control didn't work and I think the back end was held together with bumper stickers. That thing had 212,000 miles on the odometer when I sold it for $250 a year later and started driving my parents' 1995 5-speed Dodge Neon. I drove a few other cars after that but didn't love another until I bought my first new car – a 2005 Toyota Corolla. I sold that car last summer and bought a 2012 5-speed green Ford Fiesta, which may very well be the car love of my life <3
Kristin Bull (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I also should mention that I LOVE my current ride. I can't say too much more about it because it is a one-of-a-kind, as far as I know, in Rochester, and if I let people know that I was the one driving it, I'd be pointed at too often with a "There's the Patch editor!!"
Kristi Henry April 26, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Ok, now I want to play "Guess Kristin's Ride." I'm guessing Porsche Cayenne... Angie, you know my car. I'm a Jeep girl and it's gotten me through all the kids and sports in-and-out-and-in-and-out. But I don't know if they have a model that would fit your brood. Good luck!!
Ann-Marie McCardell April 26, 2012 at 04:00 PM
my first car was a 73 MG midget convertable that my dad custom painted pink, with white curly-q around the doors. It took me years to realize it was Lo-Jack for your teenage daughter, before there was Lo-Jack. All my friends knew who's car it was and all my parents Friends knew who's car it was. So everytime I was someplace I shouldn't have been, it got back to my parents. Well played mom & Dad. I think I'll have my dad custom paint a car for my oldest daughter in a few years :-)
Nancy Hanus April 26, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Pictures! We want pictures! Please, share them if you have them. I can't stand not seeing a pink '73 MG midget. My brother had a yellow MG midget that he parked under a semi while he was at work ... but pink? I must see this, Ann-Marie.
Joshua Raymond April 26, 2012 at 04:13 PM
And pretty soon people will be traveling here from California scoping the streets of Rochester for that car, looking to have their picture taken with the Patch editor and learn how she crafts words into social commentary heralded by the masses.
Joshua Raymond April 26, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Yeah, the sweet first ride that had numerous mechanical issues, yet all other cars since paled in comparison to... Mine was a 79 Chrysler LeBaron. If I took my foot off the gas pedal, it stalled. For that and other reasons, it guzzled gas at a rate rivaling a Hummer hauling a yacht. But it had style! It was big and black with T-tops and the envy of many friends who had newer cars with no style. We would remove the T-tops and go cruising, adventures where we discovered that cops don't like kids standing in the "I'm the King of the World" pose half outside the car as we barreled down the roads. Alas, the bane of my vehicles - my younger brothers - got to my car when I was out of the country. While joyriding down the highway, they attempted to remove one of the glass T-tops - then watched as the wind whipped it away from them and shattered it into a million pieces on the road behind them. Despite their attempts to repair it with smoked plexiglass, the spell was broken and that relationship ended shortly after that. But I still look back fondly on that car, remembering the days when my high school buddies crowded around looking at my sweet ride.
Don Wyatt (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 07:04 PM
FIrst? A1969 Ford Torino. 2-door, 305 V8 with a hood scoop. It was used, but my next-door-neighbor was a body man at Flint's Buick City and helped me fix it up. Great ride for a 16 y.o. Then there was the 1978 MGB. Corn yellow with black interior and rag top. If there was a hint of moisture in the air, the damn thing wouldn't start. Ever. Was fun when it was running, but that wasn't very often! Wasn't sad to see that one go!
Angela Youngblood April 26, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I love that you "LOVED that car more than a person should love any non-living object." That's what I want to feel about my new car, not to put any pressure on my new relationship. :)
Andrea Langhoff April 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
First love!? 1988 Chevy Celebrity...and this was in 2002. Silver (with rust details, of course). A real beauty! It was a great relationship, and still a great reminder that attitude is everything. :) Good luck with the Flex!
Brendan McGaughey April 27, 2012 at 04:57 AM
A gold '99 Jeep Cherokee (a.k.a the Golden Chariot). Great car. Incredible turning radius, not so hot in the gas mileage department... Got me through high school and a year of college until I totaled it on US-131. RIP!
Dot April 27, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I just had the pleasure of driving a 2012 Chevy Traverse for a week. I must say I was impressed. It has 8 seat-belts, but my 6 kids won't fit in there as they aren't little anymore. Good luck on your search! For our family outings we have a 2003 Ford Excursion that seats all 8 of us comfortably! I don't understand why they don't make them anymore.
Erin April 27, 2012 at 05:08 PM
First ride? '73 Dodge Dart, 340 engine. Gold with black top, sweet. Angela - good luck on the test drive(s)! Let us know -
Mike May 12, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Slightly off topic.......I was sitting at the light at Auburn road and Dequindre the other day......Had a Chicken Shack moment...when some young guy, who looked like someone under the legal age, turned west off of Dequindre in what appeared to be a Model T convertible! I can't begin to describe the feeling of envy. It was so tall! and the top was down. Makes my first car story not worth bringing up. =o\

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