At long last, the good ol’ 1984 Toyota Tercel has been retired from the Castello household. It’s been through quite a lot over the years, from getting me through my driving test to hauling massive quantities of stuff to and from residences on the UMBC campus. The past year has been pretty difficult for it: it started feeling like something new would break once a week. The gas pedal disconnected, large portions of the exhaust piping rusted out and fell off; finally the emergency brake broke, forcing me to brace the vehicle against the curb by my apartment to prevent it from rolling.
After driving it for so long, it’s a little sad to give it up—even if it is going to a good home (Rachel’s dad will be fixing it up to use). The best part was the fact that I routinely got MPGs in the mid-thirties, even breaking forty when I had it in excellent shape. When all of the new cars started bragging about their 30 MPG highway ratings, I confess that I scoffed. The Tercel was built during the aftermath of the 1979 energy crisis, back before everybody said “what the heck” and started driving SUVs. What can I say, over the years I’ve gotten attached to driving a car that is older than I am!
The Tercel is being replaced by a spiffy new 2010 Honda Insight, a hybrid that gets almost as good gas mileage as the new Prius but is way more fun. At long last I’ve found a car that manages to beat the Tercel in fuel efficiency, and it has all kinds of luxury features like power windows, intermittent windshield wipers, and a right-side rearview mirror. The first time I filled it up I got a hortatory 40 MPG. Oh yeah!
The first few times I drove it around I felt like I’d forgotten everything I know about piloting a vehicle, being unfamiliar with the edges and paranoid somebody was going to hit me. I’m getting better with increased practice, but still unconcerned about walking a few extra meters from the parking lot to my destination.