“It was a big present from my Dad when I turned 16.”
- The Ride
- The Driver: Eric
- Car in Question: Silver 2000 Toyota Celica
- Spotted at: Fort Point
- Odometer: 115,202
- Car’s Nickname: Bessy
Q: What brings you to the city today?
A: Lunch with my wife. She works at the University of San Francisco. We used to live in San Francisco, so we went to our old neighborhood near Fillmore.
Q: May I ask what made you move to Menlo Park?
A: For school. I’m going to Law School at Stanford.
Q: What’s your car’s main use and how much time do you spend in it?
A: It varies a lot. Over the summer I was driving up to San Francisco for work, but during the school year I use it mostly on the weekends because I take a shuttle to campus.
Q: Where did you get your car?
A: I got it brand new from a dealer in Las Vegas two or three days before my 16th birthday. My dad and I were at the dealership and we were there for about five or six hours while he was wheeling and dealing with the manager of the place. So yeah, it was a big present from my Dad when I turned 16. It was a car I really wanted, but I wasn’t sure I could get it because it was a little over my dad’s price range. At the time, I think it was like $20,000 and my dad talked it down to $18,000.
Q: I bet your dad is glad you bought it because he definitely got his money worth out of it.
A: Yeah, exactly. I haven’t really had any major problems with this car.
Q: So you’ve had this car for a pretty long time?
A: It’ll be 12 years in February.
Q: Since you’ve had it for so long, do you have a favorite memory in this car?
A: Our favorite trip with this car is going up to Tahoe in the summer for 4th of July weekend. We rock out to Dave Matthews on the way up to relax and mellow out. When I first got the car for my 16th birthday, my now wife threw me a surprise birthday party. I remember all my friends were over at my house and they were all checking out my new car. When I was probably 16 or 17, I was pretty foolish. Even though it’s only a four cylinder, I would go drag racing on open roads near our high school, which was in the middle of the desert. I’d race my friend who had a 1960 something Mustang convertible. It wasn’t really much of a contest because he had like a V8 engine. It was pretty funny. We’d get up to 110 miles per hour in this car. Looking back on it, that was pretty dangerous, but fun.
Q: What’s your favorite day trip from home?
A: Probably Sonoma. My wife and I went up there a couple of months ago to stop at our favorite place for lunch, Viansa Winery, right off the 37. They have a nice Italian deli and wood fire pizzas. Then we went around for a typical wine tasting day up through Glen Allen and just around the valley to various spots. On the way back we stopped at Sausalito for dinner at Horizon’s, another one of our favorite spots.
Q: Where’s the furthest place you’ve driven to?
A: Probably from Vegas to Berkeley.
Q: Have you ever driven anywhere crazy?
A: I think I’ve taken it off-roading. Well not off road, but some gravel roads that it probably shouldn’t have been on. Red Rocks State Park in Las Vegas, for example. Probably was being a little too ambitious for this little car, but it made it.
Q: How many miles do you think are left in the life of your car?
A: I’m hoping for at least another 15,000, but I think it could easily go up to 200,000 miles for the next owner. I know my wife’s dad once had a used Celica for a little bit that had 200,000 miles on it. It was like a 1988 or something like that and it was still kicking along.
Q: What do you think your next car will be?
A: My next ideal car is a little bit of a dream but also a little bit of a possibility, the Lexus IS Hybrid. I think that’s the smallest model. It would be easier to park around the city and small enough, but a little more luxury than what I’ve been driving around for the past 12 years.
Q: Is there anything else we should know about your car?
A: When I first got the car it was like my little baby. I was like, no food in the car, making sure it was clean, you know? Then the first week I had it, I was so excited to drive and pick up my girlfriend, who is now my wife. As I was pulling out of my garage, I didn’t look behind me. My mom’s friend was visiting us with her Jeep in the driveway. I rammed her Jeep! Fortunately, I didn’t do any damage to her car, but I put a nice dent in my brand new Celica. It was a superficial dent, so I just pulled it out with a plunger. It was a scary moment.
Photos and interview by Brandon Oldham
Are you ready to Defend Your Ride? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Defend Your Ride S.F.” in the subject line for submission details.
View previous Defend Your Ride features and other great stories for people who love cars at CBSSanFrancisco.com/Autos.