My first new car was a 1974 Chevrolet Impala Custom. I drove it for 10 years, putting about 130,000 miles on it. The engine held up fairly well, but nearly every other mechanical device on the car had to be replaced at one time or another. A new transmission, two alternators, two sets of shock absorbers, various other suspension parts, an entire exhaust system including the exhaust manifold, starter, etc. The exterior did not fair too well either, with moldings coming unglued, floor boards rusting through, body panels rusting, chrome peeling off the bumpers and the list goes on.

In 1984, I decided to step up a notch (or so I thought) to an Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais. A little over 2 years later, with about 25,000 miles on it, I learned that portions of the front suspension would need to be replaced fairly soon. I also learned that the suspension design on GM cars had not changed in over 15 years.

So, in 1986, I decided to step up again and look a newly re-designed Oldsmobile Toronado. It had a very sleek design and an entirely new drivetrain, chassis and interior with a dashboard that also projected onto the windshield. I went to the showroom one evening, ready to trade my Cutlass for the Toronado. A salesman approached me and said he was a little busy but would send someone over right away to assist me. This happened three times that evening.

Finally, after 45 minutes, I got tired of waiting and decided I was done with American made cars. I drove straight to the Toyota dealership down the road that night, traded my Cutlass for a new Toyota Celica GT-S and officially began my love affair with Toyotas.

With the exception of my 1978 L-82 Corvette...

Although much smaller than my American cars, this Celica was VERY quick with a high-compression 4 cylinder engine that I actually had up to 120mph (just once) with room for it to go faster.

I needed a bigger car with at least a 6 cylinder because Smith 'N' Kontras needed a way to haul their trailer full of equipment to and from gigs. This car did the trick.

I traded my 1992 for a 1994. Virtually the same car except Black instead of Dark Blue. The reason for the trade is the dealership needed used cars that were in good condition and they offered me quite a deal on the '92.

I remember seeing a commercial for Toyota's latest entry into the sedan world with the Avalon. Up until then, I was seriously looking at a Lexus because I wanted something a little heavier than a Camry when I was pulling the trailer. But some research on the Avalon showed that it was using a Lexus drivetrain and was certainly heavier than the Camry. So, I traded once again, after only one year with the '94 Camry.

While getting the oil changed on my '95 Avalon, I noticed a '97 on the lot that had been sitting there for quite some time. As I was looking it over, waiting on my car to be finished, a salesperson came up to me and asked if I would make him an offer. I told him I would make him an offer that I know he would refuse because it would be way lower than the sales manager would approve. He said he couldn't go that low, and I said, "Not a problem. I like my '95 just fine" and walked away. About the time my car was done and being brought around, the salesman came running up to me and said, "We'll take your offer!" I went in for an oil change and came out with a new car. Lonna was convinced I had lost my mind until I told her the payments on the new one were less than the previous payments.

I purchased my 2000 Avalon in July and drove it for 21 years. It seemed to be the best of all the Toyotas I had ever owned. It was hard to give it up.