My Cars

These are all the cars I have owned over through the years.

Click on any picture to open a slideshow. Once there, you can click the link in the caption if there is a full-size picture.

1972 Toyota Corolla
Owned: Oct. 1985 - Nov. 1986 Color: Mustard Yellow & Rust Purchased: From a neighbor
This was my first car, and I paid $100 for it. It was a stick-shift, so I had to learn how to drive stick before I could start driving it. Once I learned, I drove the heck out of this car! It was so rusted out that when driving on a rainy day water would slosh around the floorboards and if I hit a puddle I had to "cover" the clutch with my left foot to keep from getting splashed. In the Winter it wasn't so bad because all the water froze and sealed out the water until it thawed. At one point a valve spring broke and I was able to replace it cheaply. But without the proper spring tool, it wasn't all the way down on the lifter so it ran terribly after that. I didn't trade it in on my next car, and eventually had to call one of those junk yards to come pick it up for free. :)
Isn't she beautiful?! My first car! One hubcap, two-tone of mustard yellow and rust, and missing a fender.
The other side wasn't any better! Taken at Orland Square Mall, a frequent destination since now I had freedom and wheels.
Taken from my bedroom window on Fairfield.
I have no idea why I took this!

1974 Buick Regal
Owned: May 1986 - Nov. 1991 Color: Brown Purchased: Rizza Chevrolet
My next car was this Regal. It was a real step up in size and power, having a Buick 350ci engine. Stupidly, I didn't check it out as much as I should before I bought it. When I went to change the air filter the first time I discovered the filter was completely caked with oil. You couldn't even see the metal mesh or paper. It was sucking the oil in through the breather. Once I got that corrected, it ran pretty good for awhile. But it eventually developed a problem that was difficult to diagnose - it would sometimes stall and become hard to restart. This lead to one of the scariest events in my life. It died on Christmas night 1988 leaving myself and my girlfriend stranded on one of the coldest nights of the year. We were almost frost-bitten before someone finally let us in their house to call family to come rescue us. This was before cell phones! It turned out to be an issue with the radiator and it would vapor lock. So I learned how to change the radiator and it ran ok after that.
The other issue it had was the vinyl top was trapping water underneath it and cause the roof to rust out. So with the help of a friend we spent a weekend doing amateur body work. Those pictures are below.
After I spent the day washing, waxing, and detailing.
It certainly drove and handled like a mid-70's Buick!
The interior was comfortable and spacious.
This isnt long after I bought it. For a 12 year old car it didn't have a ton of miles on it yet.
After I used ArmorAll on the top, it shrank and split in the sun. But it had been getting water under it for years. I suspect it was a full-vinyl top that someone had cut back to landau at some point.
This was in October 1987.

After pulling the top and trim, a ton of rust.

My best friend Bill. His dad was away for the weekend, so we did this in his garage. And it took all weekend, too!
We sanded down what we could. This section was completely rusted out. There was a good-sized hole here, but this is after we cut away back to somewhat solid metal.
Our amateur metal work. We cut it and bent it into shape, then riveted it on where we could. There were smaller holes below the rear window we decided to just fill with Bondo.
Starting the Bondo. I don't remember how much, but we used a LOT of it! You can see the patch was just laid over the body so I had to blend that lip in.
We also used a POR over the rust, then used more Bondo to smooth out the pitted surface. Lots of sanding!
Here it is when we were done. The primer was still wet. We used red primer because I intended to paint over it with brown. We ran out of time that weekend, and I never did paint it.
The red primer quickly faded to pink, and I drove it like that for 4 more years. But it didn't leak any more!
March 1990. When I got close to 100,000 miles, I grabbed my camera and drove around the neighborhood so I could take these pictures.

1991 Oldsmobile Calais
Owned: Nov. 1991 - Nov. 1994 Color: Metallic Gray Purchased: Rizza Oldsmobile
My first new car. I finally decided I needed something more reliable and could afford a new base model Calais. Since it had very few frills I added some myself, learning how to work on newer cars in the process. I borrowed the shop manuals from the library and installed cruise control, an alarm with power locks, and a remote trunk release.
My first new car. Small, efficient, plain.

I hated those hubcaps. I always wanted to upgrade to the nicer rims.
Somehow we managed to fit almost all of the luggage for 3 people in it though! I took this so I would know how I did it when it came time to pack to come home!
One morning in Winter '93-94 I spun out on the 95th & Harlem ramp in a snowstorm and ended up in the ditch. I had to climb out the passenger side and have it towed out of the ditch. It did this damage to the front left corner, which I never did have fixed.


1992 Oldsmobile Achieva SC
Owned: Nov. 1994 - Aug. 1996 Color: Bright Red Purchased: Rizza Oldsmobile
Shortly after getting my first IT job, which was up near O'Hare and required a lot more driving, I upgraded to this Achieva. It had the Quad4 engine which was much livelier and quite frankly it just looked a lot cooler! This car was a lot more fun to drive, and with the new job I did that quite a lot - putting on over 25k miles in the first year. That did include several road trips to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, because the Quad4 was prone to head gasket failures, it also spent a fair amount of time in the shop. Luckily, I had an extended warranty that covered the cost of these repairs. It was over $3,000 each time! The second time it happened, the car got hit in the dealership arking lot and the rear bumper and taillights had to be replaced. The third time the head gasket blew, I traded it in on the Grand Prix below.
My first sporty car! The red was eye-catching!
And it had aluminum wheels which looked SO much better than hubcaps!
It also surprisingly held a lot of stuff too. I could fold the seats down and haul lumber when needed.

1995 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP
Owned: Aug. 1996 - Oct. 1998 Color: Summit White Purchased: Village Pontiac
This was one of my favorite cars of all that I have owned. It was a great combination of power, luxury, and looks. It had the 3.4l V6, leather interior with heated seats, and one of the earliest implementations of Heads Up Display which projected the speedometer on the windshield. It was fast and handled great. It wasn't so good in the snow, but it did alright. This was when I learned to like white cars as it didn't look dirty even when it was. The white wheels were difficult to keep clean though, especially the fronts with the brake dust.
When clean, it looked outstanding!
I think I talked my sister into taking this picture of me standing through the sunroof.

1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Owned: Oct. 1998 - June 1999 Color: Bright White Purchased: Rizza Oldsmobile
Because I was starting to shop for a house, I wanted a smaller car payment on my credit report so I traded the beloved Grand Prix on a Monte Carlo. I figured since it had the same engine and was in the same GM line it would be ok. But I hated this car. It just didn't have the handling or looks of the Pontiac. As you can see, I didn't own it for long and don't have any pictures of it so I found this one on the internet.
Decent looks, but not much more.

1997 Oldsmobile Bravada
Owned: June 1999 - Nov. 2001 Color: Burgundy Purchased: Rizza Oldsmobile
Once I had my first house, I wanted and needed something better that I could also haul things in for home improvement projects. I liked the 4-door SUVs, and John found me this one. It was my first 4-wheel drive vehicle which made it good in the Winter but the mileage wasn't so great. I loved the utility of it, but since I didn't have it that long I also didn't have any pictures. So I found these on the internet and they look just like the one I had.
At first I was a little worried it would be too much like a station wagon, but I liked the looks.
I did like the burgundy color too.



The gold accents on the wheels worked nicely with the gold pinstripes.

1999 GMC Yukon SLE
Owned: Nov. 2001 - Feb. 2002 Color: Summit White Purchased: CarMax Kenosha
Bigger is better, right? Sometimes. I decided I wanted a full-size SUV and found a Yukon at CarMax in Kenosha. It was a nice vehicle, and had the double doors in the back instead of the liftgate. I ended up liking that feature as it made it easier to open in the garage and I could fetch the dog I had out of the back without him jumping out as soon as I opened the door. But it wasn't as fancy on the inside as I like and after a few months I decided I'd rather have heated leather and a sunroof. Since I only owned this four months I didn't have pictures. These were found on the internet.
I didn't have the bug shield, but the running boards were stock.
This thing weighed a ton!

2000 GMC Jimmy SLT
Owned: Feb. 2002 - Nov. 2003 Color: Blue/Silver Purchased: CarMax Naperville
I traded the Yukon on a fully loaded Jimmy. This was a really nice truck and I loved the color but it was hard to keep clean. Again, I had no pictures but these are just like it.
The two-tone with the silver lower was actually really sharp looking.

1994 Pontiac Trans Am
Owned: Spring 2002 - Aug. 2002 Color: Bright White Purchased: Private party
In 2002 I finally bought my all-time dream car, a Trans Am. A relative of a friend was selling this 1994 and I got it for a decent price. It wasn't in the best shape, but I spent a lot of time and some money to clean it up. I found it was actually cheaper to buy "take off" wheels and tires (ones that were taken off new vehicles when owners upgraded) over the internet than just tires at retail, so I did that. This car was a stick shift with the LT-1 350ci engine rated at 275hp. It flew and handled very good. But I tired of the stick shift and wanted a newer version so I traded it in on the 1998 below.
These were taken at Moraine Valley when I was going to put the car for sale on eBay.
There was a plastic body molding on the sides that had yellowed with age. It took me hours to remove it and the glue residue, but the car looked a lot better because of it.
The plastic nose never quite matched the fenders and hood.

I liked taking the t-tops off.
I added the white TransAm vinyl on the back and the black ones on the doors.


When I first got it, it ran rough. It turned out to be a plug wire that burned against the exhaust manifold. After replacing them it ran great!
Changing the plugs on this car was a real chore though!

It was more like a cockpit than a dashboard. Getting in and out wasn't easy though, especially when I was used to climbing UP into an SUV!

1998 Pontiac Trans Am
Owned: Aug. 2002 - Jan. 2003 Color: Bright Red Purchased: Hawkinson Nissan
I traded the '94 TA on this red '98. It had an automatic with the LS1 350ci engine rated at 325hp. It wasn't quite as much fun to drive with the automatic, but was easier in traffic. This car was a rocket ship on wheels! It was so tempting to drive with a heavy right foot that I got terrible gas mileage. LOL But when Winter rolled around and I was making a second car payment on a vehicle that was sitting in hibernation I decided I'd better get rid of it. This is another car I wish I had kept, though I'd probably have speeding tickets on my record if I had!
The body molding on the 98 didn't look as bad to me. I really liked the styling changes Pontiac did for 1998 with the new nose.

I had to lighten these pictures up a bit. You can actually see the 2000 GMC Jimmy parked in the garage in this one.
No changes made to the rear end for 98 though.

I did make a few minor modifications under the hood - a K&N air filter and red split loom wire guides.
I wasn't a fan of the tan and gray interior, I never have been. But I got used to it.

1993 Chevy Beretta GT
Owned: May 2003 - June 2003 Color: White Purchased: From a friend
I purchased this as a high-mileage used car from a friend, knowing it had been extremely well kept. I figured I'd use it as a short commute car to run errands and such. But I didn't like it a whole lot and really preferred bigger cars. I also figured I'd rather not have the double insurance payment so I donated it to charity. My insurance guy probably had to lay someone off when I went back down to 1 car! Again, these pictures came from the internet since I didn't have any pictures of it.
It wasn't a bad little car, it just wasn't anything special.

2003 Chevy Tahoe Z71
Owned: Nov. 2003 - May 2007 Color: Dark Green Purchased: Miller Chevrolet
After having the Jimmy for a year and a half I decided I again wanted something bigger, and since I no longer had the 2nd cars or motorcycles I could afford to splurge. So I bought a Tahoe and loved it - you can tell by the fact I had it longer than any vehicle in the last 20 years! I could haul a ton, it was great in the snow, and I loved how much room I had in it. I put a grille guard on it, a Flowmaster exhaust which made it sound great, and eventually a Hotchkis sway bar kit front and rear which made it handle better on dry pavement. I even contemplated putting a supercharger on it but the price tag kept me from doing that! Unfortunately, after I got married and moved to a more expensive house gasoline prices started to soar. The combination of the high payments and low mileage forced me to trade it in on something more efficient. And I still miss it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures of mine so I had to get these off the internet.
In 2000 GM refined the full-size SUVs and trucks. They were no longer squared-off large boxes. I loved this look.

If it weren't for the greedy oil companies I would still be driving a full-size truck like this. (only newer! LOL)

With the lifgate and the vehicle's height, The only way I could open the rear in the garage was if I was pulled all the way forward. Which worked well, since that was the only way the truck fit anyway!
It was really comfortable for long trips.

This is actually mine, I made a mount for my satellite radio since this truck didn't have XM built in.

2007 Pontiac Torrent
Owned: May 2007 - May 2010 Color: Silver Purchased: Haggerty GMC
This was certainly a compromise for efficiency. But by dropping down two sizes I went too small. I was cramped and never really liked driving this crossover. I have to say it handled great in the snow and got good mileage. But some goofy engineer at GM thought it would be a good idea to move the window controls to the center console to save room on the doors. That was a problem for me the entire time I owned it! Again, pictures taken from the internet.
It wasn't bad looking, just kind of plain. And there are millions of silver small crossovers on the road.

It ended up being uncomfortable for long trips. The center console infringed on my legroom.

Below the gearshift lever is the window controls. Stupid! They have been on the doors since cars were invented - where most people expect them to be! GM did eventually change this.

2008 GMC Acadia SLT1
Owned: May 2010 - March 2012 Color: Carbon Black Metallic Purchased: Dan WOlf Chevrolet
After 3 years of enduring the Torrent I decided I really wanted to step up a size. I had admired the looks of the GMC Acadia so I started shopping for a used one. I looked everywhere thanks to the internet, and finally found one I liked at the right price. But it was black. Metallic black, so it looked sharp, but I was a little concerned about owning a black vehicle. I grew to like the color, but I will admit it is hot in the summer. And with two sunroofs these Acadias are like terrariums in the summer months! The nice thing about this was the mileage. It was FWD, and only got 2 or 3 less mpg than the Torrent. And the size was "just right"! LOL I could haul what I needed, including half sheets of plywood, could squeeze 7 people in it, and I had more legroom and hip room. Again, none of the pictures are mine but this is what it looked like.
The Acadia is actually quite long, only 1.5" shorter than the Tahoe. It is less than 1" narrower, but you can feel that difference. And it actually has more cargo capacity than the Tahoe in cu. ft.

There was a problem with the sunroofs leaking on the 2007 and 2008 model years, and I did have to take mine in to have the rear sunroof resealed. I also had to have the engine pulled and the water pump & gasket replaced. Another common issue with the earlier models.
The liftgate is an issue now that I have shelves in the back of my garage. The gate is powered, but I have to manually stop it because it will hit the top of the door frame. I also had to add padding to the frame.

Steering wheel controls, heated seats, XM radio, sunroof. Nicely optioned.
Mine had these 18" aluminum wheels. Unfortunately, there aren't many choices for replacement tires and they cost $230 each.

2010 GMC Acadia Denali
Owned: March 2012 - ?? Color: Carbon Black Metallic Purchased: Sullivan GMC
The used 2008 was approaching 80k miles and was going to need expensive new tires, so instead I started shopping for a newer Acadia. I started out looking for a 2010 and again thanks to the internet was looking all over Chicagoland. I even found one I liked in Niles and shortly before signing the paperwork I noticed the top had damage above the liftgate. Luckily, I saw it in time! While waiting for that dealer to fix it, I came across this 2011 Denali version with low miles for not much more money. So I drove up to Arlington Heights and fell in love with it. With the help of internet access and an iPad, I was able to drive a great deal and three hours later it was mine. I only had to drive 50+ miles home! The Denali is fully-loaded with navigation, heated and cooled seats, and I now have Heads Up Display again. The only thing it is missing is a DVD player, but iPads make up for that on trips! These are the internet pictures from the dealer.
The Denali package has chrome trim, 20" chrome wheels with charcoal inserts (that Michelle calls "pimp daddy" wheels), special lower fascia, chrome grille.
The exhaust tips are different too.



The wheels. Ironically, these tires are cheaper. Maybe because there is less rubber?
Heated AND cooled perforated leather seats. I didn't need the cooled part, but I did use it a lot over the summer!
Notice the chrome trim around the dash vents? I hated them on the first Acadia and found out on the internet that GM will replace them with flat black for free if the owner asks. I had it done on the '08 and did it again on this one right after I bought it. The chrome reflects the sun into my eyes. How did people manage in the 50's?? I think the black looks better besides.
Imitation walnut woodgrain on the dash. I'm not a fan of imitation woodgrain, but it looks better than the brushed aluminum look in the non-Denali versions.

Touch screen navigation with a backup camera. I didn't need the nav though - I still use my Garmin. I don't like the built in one interrupting the radio to tell me to turn left!

Heads-Up-Display. Sweet! I think all cars should have this.

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