It was twenty years ago today: When I bought my first new car, that is. At the time I was driving a beat-up Datsun B210 that I’d purchased 2 1/2 years earlier for $650, so with some savings in the bank I was able to afford something new.
I looked at a bunch of compact four-door sedans in the $15,000 range, like the VW Jetta and the Mazda 626, before settling on the Acura Integra. I opted for the "high-end" GS model to get anti-lock brakes. Acuras didn’t have a lot of factory options at the time (nor do they now) and the main dealer-installed option I added was air conditioning. I also got my first real taste of the new car purchasing experience, which predictably wasn’t fun.
One of the creature comforts that this car lacked was map lights, which were introduced in the following year’s model (along with the Acura logo). A friend who test drove my car and ended up buying a 1991 Integra reminded me about the lack of map lights for years. I had another friend who bought nearly the identical car a few months after I did, down to the color — the only differences were that she opted for a sunroof instead of AC and had a different color dealer-added body stripe — and was afraid I’d be upset with her for copying me.
I drove the car for seven years before replacing it, at which point I shipped it to my sister, who used it for the rest of its natural life. (The above pictures were taken from the shipping company’s lot in 1997.) The car I replaced it with and the car I replaced that one with both arrived in March, so there must be something about me and buying new cars at the onset of spring.