Main Page
The Long Life and Sad Demise of
My First Car
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3

First Wheels

This car, a 1987 VW Golf, was the very first car I have ever owned.  I bought it in May of '90, shortly after I moved here.  I had some experience with the type as my mom owned a string of VW Rabbits, upon which the Golf was based, and I had been driving a Golf for about half a year prior to moving to Atlanta.  So, I knew what I wanted and what to expect.  At least so I thought.

Owning a car was a new thing for me.  I had never had to think of maintenance or even knew what to expect.  I learned by doing.  That got to be expensive at times but I did learn a lot.  When I bought the car it had about 102,000 miles already on it.  In the seven and a half years of driving it I managed to put about 130,000 of my own miles on it.  It showed that too.  During the years that I owned my Golf I had to replace the clutch twice and the transmission once.  I also replaced the front struts twice as well.  I did those myself and was rather proud of it too!

Not a easy thing that, especially the first time when I discovered that the previous owner had not used standard parts in his maintenance.  I found this out the hard way and a relatively straightforward maintenance job became an exercise in frustration.   It took me three days to get the job done the first time.  When I did it the second time it took just a few hours.  What a difference using the right parts makes!

For regular maintenance, and for the things I did not want to hassle with, I took my Golf over to Robert's Automotive in Pacific Beach.  They are working on their website and when it is up I will have a link for it here.  I went to them from the very first time my Golf gave me any problems.  Unfortunately that was soon after I bought it!   Within six months of purchasing it I had to replace both the clutch and the transmission.  I actually went through two transmissions, the first one blew shortly after it was installed and therefore within the warranty, so the Robert's folks dropped its replacement in without any question.

Over the years that followed I had a number of things that needed fixing with that car.   The distributor began to misfire and had to be replaced.  The timing belt jumped and that too had to be fixed.  Luckily, it jumped ahead and left the engine racing even while standing still.  It did this while I was driving home from work so its higher revs were something I could deal with on the highway.

On my own I replaced one of the two fuel pumps, this one the "in tank" pump.   It had died and therefore left the entire job of pulling the gas out of the tank to the secondary pump.  Not a good thing.  It was a rather direct replacement but a careful one.  I did not much like the idea of working around a loaded gas tank but in so doing I saved several hundred dollars of labor costs.

Robert's and I had a good relationship.  When I had car problems I would bring my machine in and they would check it out.  If it was something I could fix myself, I would.  If it was something I could not, they would.  They were very helpful in both cases, giving me tips on what to do when fixing it myself, as well as doing some final things for free.  If you own a VW, Volvo, Saab, or Jeep, then these folks are an excellent choice.

Happier Days

I really liked driving my Golf.  It had a really powerful transmission at the low end, developing a lot of torque at relatively low speeds.  This meant that it could pop off a stop light or easily zip through most highway traffic.  No, it could not keep up with a Porsche on the straight-aways however, in most city driving - and in most highway driving too - it could easily stay with one if not get ahead of it.  I liked that.

I also had an enormous carrying capacity.  With the rear seats folded down it could fit some truly large things inside it.  With the hatchback left open, it could fit some truly huge things!  Considering it was my only wheels and that I liked making some pretty big things, this was a real plus.  It could also seat four folks pretty comfortably.  When I was with my girlfriend, Kim, and her daughter, Torrie, for five years, this seating capacity was a real plus as well.

The car also made for a good road trip machine.  I used to drive it up to LA very often.  For many years however, that was about the extent of my voyages with it. In the Fall of '97 however, I decided to take a major road trip.  My first true road trip.  I decided that over Thanksgiving Day Weekend I would drive from San Diego up to San Jose to see a friend of mine, Kevin.  San Jose is over four hundred miles away from San Diego and I decided to take the long way of it by going up the Coast.  That was a good choice!

After getting through LA and then working past Oxnard, the stretch between there and Monterey Bay has some of the most beautiful coastal scenery you could care to imagine.   Particularly when you go through the Los Padres National Park and the mountain range there.  The mountains come right up to the sea and the sights there are awesome.  Here is a couple of pictures of my shining steed at one of the scenic vistas I pulled over to.

A first view of the car and coast Here is the first picture I took of my car at one of the many "Scenic Vistas".   This photo doesn't do the light or the scenery justice.  I actually don't think there is much that can.  The view is so awesome here it really must be experienced first hand.  I have many other shots of all this, but these two are the ones that show my car and the scenery the best.
I think this shot captures things a bit better.  The light was just amazing that late afternoon. It was made all the more awesome as the sun was setting and the vibrant green of the mountains were all the more stark as they came hard against the ocean's blue.  If ever I make this drive again I think I will do it the opposite way.  I went from South to North this time.  As the mountains are hard against the ocean here, that also means that there are too few pull over spaces on that side, they are all on the Southbound side.  I will also bring more rolls of film too! A better view of my first car on the 101

It was really a pity that less than a month after I took these pictures that my driving days with this car would be at an end.

HomeNext Page

If you would like to learn more about me – just ask!   Drop me a line and we’ll see what happens.  I can be reached
here at:

You can also try using Yahoo Messenger as I’ll have that one sometimes while I am at work or at home.

My Yahoo handle is:


Until later then,




This Page Was Last Updated On: 06 March 2003