I have always appreciated automobiles which are stylish, leading-edge, and have a degree of performance. My tastes in autos has evolved over the years, from sports cars with great performance when I was a young man, to more mainstream designs during my middle years, and now that I’m retired, my taste in autos is swinging back to the more exciting variety again!
Below are the automobiles I have owned – my most current automobile at the top of the list, and the first car I purchased is at the bottom (but not forgotten).
2017 Tesla Model S 75D
In 2017, Tesla significantly improved the price/performance of the bottom end of the Model S line. Despite the propulsion battery having 10 kW less capacity, the 75D model has essentially the same range as my old 85 model. Additionally, the performance increased the 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) performance from 5.4 seconds to 4.4 seconds. In July of 2017 I placed an order for a new 2017 Model S 75D (AWD) to replace my 2014 Model S 85 (RWD), and in September I took delivery.
The new autonomous driving features are nothing short of amazing. Even considering that the autonomous system is still in beta mode, it drives on both highway and city streets remarkably well. It is constantly detecting what is in front, to the sides and behind, the multiple cameras are reading street signs and the lane markings, and at night it’s detecting headlights and tail lights to auto-dim the high beams, all while underway! It even uses the front-facing camera to detect rain on the windshield in order to adjust the wiper interval.
This latest Model S is certainly a geek’s dream car, but it also has excellent handling, making driving fun just like it’s 2014 predecessor. This new model essentially has all the features of my previous Model S, however the seats are now a beautiful Cream-coloured supple synthetic next generation design; the hard top roof is now made out of dark-tinted glass; there are more interior accent lights; the redesigned centre console is now standard; the car is now connected using faster and more reliable LTE cellular; the HEPA air filtration system for the cabin is much improved, offering welcome relief from pollen and other pollutants; the computer system running the navigation and all the sensors is now a liquid-cooled, AI-capable beast!
I’m in awe of all the improvements Tesla’s designers have made to the Model S, and I’m enjoying driving this beautiful car every day.
2014 Tesla Model S 85
Ever since Tesla announced the Model S, I have been fascinated with this all-electric car. I finally decided to take a test drive in Vancouver in early May 2014. At that point, the car really got under my skin, since I was very much impressed with the test drive. I talked myself out of the purchase twice, but eventually decided to go for my dream car after closely relating to Sid Schwab’s Customer Story. I placed the order in late May, took delivery in late September 2014.
Tesla doesn’t have a dealership network. Instead, they sell direct to their customers through their website. I purchased this car by selecting the options I wanted and clicked “Purchase” on the Tesla website – it’s no different than buying a toaster from Amazon, except for the price of course! My configuration: 85 kWh Model S rear-wheel drive, Pearl White Body Color, 19″ Wheels with Michelin Primacy Tires, Dual Chargers, Fog Lamps, Obeche Wood Matte Décor, Parking Sensors, Smart Air Suspension, Subzero Weather Package, Supercharger Enabled, Tan Nappa Leather Seats, Tech Package.
I have to say, the Model S has made driving fun again. The instant acceleration and superb handling is a real treat. The silence in the cabin and amazing amount of space inside is great. The running costs are super low compared with my previous gas engined cars (3 cents/km for electricity for the Model S, versus 18 cents/km for gasoline for my previous Honda Accord). The Model S is a geek’s dream come true with all the high tech features. It is constantly connected to the Internet through cellular 3G and I can control some functions remotely through my iPhone.
The performance of this all-electric car is nothing short of amazing. It will do 0-90 km/h in about a city block! I’ve given most of my friends test rides, so we’re having fun. I have also joined a couple of local electric vehicle groups, so I can socialize with others who are having similar driving experiences as me.
2010 Honda Accord Crosstour
I purchased the Honda Accord Crosstour from the local Honda dealership in May of 2010, and traded in my 2004 Honda CR-V. It was an end-of-the-month purchase, so I got a super deal on this new car. I would have to say, that up to this point, the Honda Accord Crosstour was the nicest car I have owned. It was quiet and powerful with a V-6 3.2 litre engine, it handled very well both in town and on the highway. The beautiful pearlescent white exterior was a great colour choice, and made the car look very stylish, with the hatchback design contributing to beautiful lines. The on demand all-wheel drive and Michelin X tires made the Crosstour a very sure-footed winter car. The ivory leather interior was a great complement to the white exterior.
My only disappointment with the Crosstour was the very poor fuel efficiency with in-town driving. Highway driving efficiency was great, but it was a real pig in stop-and-go traffic. Since I traded this vehicle in after only four years of use, I got good trade-in value for it from a local luxury used car dealer, who won the bid posted by Tesla Vancouver.
2004 Honda CR-V
I talked myself into purchasing this small SUV on the premise that it would be easier to load our aging Jack Russell Terrier (Tucker) into the higher deck, and it would also ease the back strain of lifting my astronomy gear in and out of a vehicle. This worked out fine, but I found driving the CR-V less than satisfying. I was used to having a 6-cylinder engine under the hood with lots of horsepower. The CR-V had a four cylinder engine, albeit a large one at 2.4 litres displacement. It was noisy climbing the hills, choppy on the level, and it had a high centre of gravity, so it had to be driven carefully through sharp turns.
Despite this list of negatives, the CR-V was a reliable vehicle, which I kept for six years. The trade-in value was a bit disappointing, but because I made a good deal on my new 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour, I wasn’t complaining too loudly about the considerable depreciation on the CR-V.
1995 Toyota Camry
The Camry was the first vehicle I owned which had an automatic transmission. This car was exceptionally quiet, and well-behaved on the road with its 6-cylinder 3 litre engine and Michelin tires. I kept this car for nine years; investing in major service expenses along the way to keep in in top-notch shape. I had a high-end Pioneer sound system installed, replacing the crappy standard Toyota cassette/radio, and also had an after-market security system installed.
The Camry may not have been the most exciting car I have owned, but it was like losing an old friend when I traded it in on the Honda CR-V. The trade-in value was very good with this car, since despite its age, it was in demand as a quality used car, and I had the records to prove it had been well taken care during the nine years I owned it.
1980 Toyota Celica Supra
The Supra was a luxury version of a sports car, since it had the soft handling of a luxury car, but had a big straight 6-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. The Supra was a very comfortable car, with plush fabric seats, an advanced sound system (for it’s time), and climate control. It tended to dive into the corners if pushed too much, but it otherwise handled well at highway speeds and in town. Apparently, it was the first implementation of cruise control in a standard shift vehicle.
I owned this car the longest, keeping it for 15 years. This car cost me a bundle in maintenance…it seemed every time I took it in for a service, my Toyota dealer found something major that needed fixing. The final straw was when the government mandated that all Freon in air conditioning systems had to be replaced with a newer, more environmentally friendly formulation for older cars. So I finally traded it in on a Camry in 1995, but didn’t get much trade-in value for it at that point.
1972 Datsun 240Z
As a young man living in Vancouver at the time, this was my first car. What a thrill! It was a red-orange colour, had a 4-speed manual, and a 2.4 litre straight 6 engine for lots of power when rev-ed up to 7,000 rpm! It was a very advanced design for the time, having 4-wheel independent suspension consisting of MacPherson struts in front and Chapman struts in back. Front disc brakes and rear drums were standard. It handled superbly when driven on the highways and freeways at high speeds, but was otherwise balky to drive in the city with its manual transmission. It was a two-seater sports car with a hatchback design, and one of the first to be produced by a Japanese manufacturer.
Brasso Datsun in Vancouver sold me the car, and allegedly it was the favourite car driven by Henning Brasso, the owner of the dealership. As with all Datsuns (and most other Japanese brands) of the time, rust was a big problem. I had the car in for body work several times. I also had the audio system upgraded to a third party unit that would play the new-fangled cassette tapes!
I had a helluva lot of fun driving this car on day trips out the Fraser Valley and points beyond in the Southern Interior of BC, south on Highway 99 and I-5 into Washington State, and north up Howe Sound to the new resort town of Whistler. I kept this car for 12 years…the second longest I have owned a car. Fond memories!