You are what you drive: A photo essay


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    Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal on cars: "Wow, this makes me a little sad. Then - 1971 Oldsmobile convertible (in photo), red/white top, went about a million miles an hour. Now - Honda minivan with 150-thousand miles on it."

    - Kai Ryssdal/Marketplace

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    Marketplace Morning Report Host Jeremy Hobson on cars: "I've been living car-free in big east coast cities for most of my driving life, so I was a bit skeptical about the idea of joining the traffic-clogging, gas-buying ranks of the driving class. But since moving to LA I've discovered how the word "convertible" changes everything. I think of my commute home as more of a 20-minute sunbathing opportunity."

    - Marketplace

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    Marketplace Tech Report Host John Moe on cars: "After years of wanting unique cars with personality, I finally went with a boring car that was dependable - a Ford Focus. It's fine. And I love it because it's mediocre and forgettable."

    - Marketplace

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    Marketplace's Economy 4.0 correspondent David Brancaccio on cars: "You've heard of the Toyota Corolla? Perhaps also the Corona? Well, I used to own the Toyota "Corroda," a tribute to all its corrosion. I got it for $200 cash when it was eight years old and already oxidizing itself into oblivion. For some reason, my Corroda was ineffective in attracting members of the opposite sex. But it was easy to tune with a $1 feeler gauge and a $20 timing light."

    - Marketplace

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    Marketplace Morning Report Host Steve Chiotakis on cars: "Currently I drive a 2004 Mazda RX8. but when I was in my 20s, I had an 1991 Acura Integra, which was a ROAD WARRIOR! It survived numerous relationships, spills, a couple of snowstorms and a fight with a parking lot cement pole. I 'retired' it with 240,000 miles. And never changed the clutch on it. What an amazing ride!"

    - Marketplace

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    Dan MacArthur of Marlboro, Vermont, sent us this photo and writes: "I bought the Beetle used for $1650 and built the little box and roof racks for a few more bucks - it truly represents me because it gets 40 miles per gallon, holds my lunchbox and tools, and impresses the hell out my 2 year old granddaughter (she calls it my Beep) - she already understands that anyone doing this kind of thing to their car eschews the normal and I hope that she will follow in these footsteps!

    - Dan MacArthur

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    Dwight Gagnon of Benton, Maine sent us this photo and writes: "I bought this 1989 Geo Metro as an abandoned car for $100.00 in 2004. It was slated to be crushed, and its price was slightly more than its scrap value. Other than feeling really sorry for it, I bought it to experiment with it and try to run it on alternative fuels. Why does this car represent me? Conservation is my passion. I've tried to live simply all my life. This car, although rejected by the American public, represented simplicity at it's best."

    - Dwight Gagnon

  • Photo 8 of 42

    Leo Martinez of Houston, Texas, sent us this photo and writes: "I wanted to own a small SUV since I was 13 years old. I had a Chevrolet Tracker 4WD from 2001 to 2007. It was a fun car/mini-truck to drive. I just wanted to go everywhere to find places to use its modest 4WD capabilities"

    - Leo Martinez

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    Harold Wingood of Memphis, Tennessee, sent us this photo and writes: "In 2009, my wife and I moved to Memphis so that I could pursue a new direction in my career. I was looking for what I described to my wife as an urban transport vehicle. So we bought the Smart For Two, Pure. I love the mileage, it meets all of our needs and it is really cool to drive. It is definitely not for everyone, but I love it."

    - Harold Wingood

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    Mark Gluckman of Phoenix, Arizona, sent us this photo and writes: "1988 Volvo with 320k miles, original transmission/engine. Bought the car with 112k in 1997 for $5500 cash. The car averages about 25 MPG consistently, and I have gotten as much as 31 MPG on the road. It fits perfectly with my life. I'm cheap. No credit card debt."

    - Mark Gluckman

  • Photo 11 of 42

    Jim Schoster of Roseville, Minnesota sent us this photo and writes: "'Smoother,' my 1964 Volvo PV544 fish'n car. I obtained her from a dear friend in 2002 after he had restored the body. He owned the car in the 60s, then sold it and 20+ years later found it for sale in the news paper and bought her back! That is the beginning of the amazing joy Smoother has brought to us."

    - Jiim Schoster

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    Beverly Miller of San Diego, California, sent in this photo and writes: "Beverly and Judith's new Nissan Leaf all electric car is the car for this couple's green lifestyle. It's a pleasure to drive, and it's a pleasure on the electricity and gas bills as well. Supplemented by a solar system, the electricity cost for the Leaf during the month of March was $8.50, or $.018 per mile."

    - Beverly Miller

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    Giuseppe Nunnari of Germantown, Maryland, sent us this photo and writes: "I've always drooled over Bimmers, and finally have the means by which to drive one. The car represents a lifetime of hard work, frugal living and diligent savings and shall indeed be my most memorable car, although I've owned other fun, sporty cars throughout my life."

    - Giuseppe Nunnari

  • Photo 14 of 42

    Rory Litwin of Sacramento, California, sent in this photo and writes: "My previous car was a Honda Accord, and I was still single and getting older, and wanted a sports car. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, and I happened upon a 1985 Toyota MR2. These are small, mid-engined, 2-seater sports cars that are fast around corners, and they can be found in good condition for $3000. I think back on that car fondly because of driving pleasure it gave me on California highways, and also because it was a smart move economically."

    - Rory Litwin

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    Mark Pickard of Laguna Nigel, California, sent in this photo and writes: "[My most memorable car is] the one I built from the ground up. I attached every component, wire, tube, and panel. Every bolt, rivet, hose and brake line was installed by me. It represented the craftsmanship of a weekend builder, and I would put it up against any professionally built sportscar."

    - Mark Pickard

  • Photo 16 of 42

    Jim Hayes of Fallbrook, California, sent in this photo and writes: "Back in the mid-'60s, my brother was selling Alfa Romeos, Porsches, Mercedes, Ferrari, etc. We acquired a used '62 Alfa Giulietta Spider and began racing in 1965. A few years later, he sold the car to a friend who raced it for years and then parked it in a dairy barn in the 1970s. In 1992, we found the car and restored it for vintage sports car racing. The car is now 49 years old and still going strong!"

    - Jim Hayes

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    Steve Garwood of Calabasas, California, sent us this photo and writes: "Leaving home with my son that sunny 1986 day, my wife snapped this photo of my '65 Mustang. Also at home at the time, a 1970 BSA, 1972 Norton, 1962 Caddy and 1984 Grand Prix. Later my wife exclaimed, 'No wonder we don't have any money, it's all here in the driveway.' Well I kept the wife and got rid of the fleet. Sad, but a good choice in the long run."

    - Steve Garwood

  • Photo 18 of 42

    Shawn Rossi of Brandon, Mississippi, sent in this photo and writes: "It was love at first sight. The first car I bought with my own money. Champagne pink and it just sparkled in the Mississippi Gulf Coast sun. My father tried (and failed) to interject that you don't buy a car based on looks. It broke down that first night - and many, many nights afterwards. It finally died a slow but tragic death due to lack of oil. It's my fault, ultimately, but my boyfriend at the time kept checking the oil when the "check engine" light came on and telling me it had plenty of oil.(I guess sometimes "most memorable" and "best" are not one and the same!)"

    - Shawn Rossi

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    Bill Mahoney sent in this photo and writes: "The Car - 2009 Subaru Impreza AWD , (1991 Subaru Justy 4WD in the background). My Subaru can go anywhere at anytime in any weather look business sharp getting there, and so can I. The Justy is a 3 Cylinder 4wd 40 mpg beauty."

    - Bill Mahoney

  • Photo 20 of 42

    Deanna Sclar, author of "Auto Repair for Dummies" and "Buying A Car for Dummies" sent in this photo and writes: "Here I am in a race car. It's my current favorite vehicle because each year I work a grandstand at the Long Beach Grand Prix and have enjoyed and photographed car races for many years. I've also restored two cars (a '67 Mustang and a '59 Mercedes 190SL roadster) and written about them."

    - Deanna Sclar

  • Photo 21 of 42

    Dean Torrence, Mayor of Surf City and the Dean of "Jan and Dean," sent in this photo and writes: "'32 Ford "Deuce" Pick-Up Truck, which features 25 coats of Pearl White lacquer paint. Everything on the truck was black or white or chrome, including the shifting rod which was chrome. The shifting knob was a real pool ball (The Eight Ball, black and white)."

    - Dean Torrence

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    Dean Torrence, Mayor of Surf City and the Dean of "Jan and Dean," also sent us this photo of his all-black Porsche 911S.

    - Dean Torrence

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    Phil Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor for Edmunds and author of "Confessions of a Car Salesman," sent in this photo and writes: "This photo was taken on a Toyota used car lot in Venice to publicize the publication of my book, which I researched by going undercover at two Southern California dealerships. This is how I dressed while selling cars. In fact, the gold tie was bought from a guy who sold them out of the trunk of his BMW to car salesmen. Sorry, no gold chains."

    - Phil Reed

  • Photo 24 of 42

    Chris Bangle, former car designer for BMW, sent in this photo and writes: "This picture is back from 1991. That's me and a plastic modeler in the wind tunnel working on the Coupe Fiat. We were at the stage where the model has two alternatives for rear taillights. For the presentation we would use a mirror against the car to show a symmetrical image."

    - Chris Bangle

  • Photo 25 of 42

    Sandy Ganz, co-host of Car Cast with Adam Carolla, sent in this photo and writes: "This picture was taken a few years ago in my garage. That's my RCR GT40 replica when it was first delivered. Nice!"

    - Sandy Ganz

  • Photo 26 of 42

    Sandy Ganz, co-host of Car Cast with Adam Carolla, sent in this photo and writes: "This picture was taken a few years ago at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, CA. That's my 1965 Mustang Fastback race car!"

    - Sandy Ganz

  • Photo 27 of 42

    Sandy Ganz, co-host of Car Cast with Adam Carolla, sent in this photo and writes: "Here's a shot of one of Adam's Lamborghini Miura's. This car was yellow and got restored. We drove to San Diego to pick up the car at the shop that did the work. I think it was about February 2010."

    - Sandy Ganz

  • Photo 28 of 42

    Adam Carolla, radio personality and host of Car Cast, sent in this photo and writes: "This picture was taken for a magazine shoot several years ago. That's a Datsun and a Porsche that I don't even own anymore. Thanks for reminding me!"

    - Adam Carolla

  • Photo 29 of 42

    Adam Carolla, radio personality and host of Car Cast, sent in this photo and writes: "Me in my Bob Sharp Datsun 610 at the Fleet Week Vintage Race in Coronado, CA circa October, 2009."

    - Adam Carolla

  • Photo 30 of 42

    Dexter Ford, a contributing automotive writer for The New York Times, sent in this photo and writes: "This is me (foreground) in my first-ever 4-wheeled vehicle, an ex-armored-car 1967 Chevy Van I bought for $25. The guy who sold it to me apologized later for ripping me off. It took me through two years of college, and finally across the country from Boston to L.A., to take my first job as a writer for Dirt Bike Magazine. This was shot during that cross-country trip, with two guys I found on a bulletin board who shared the driving and gas with me. We look kind of like the hippie Mod Squad."

    - Dexter Ford

  • Photo 31 of 42

    Amy Danise, senior managing editor at Insure.com, sent in this photo and writes: "My family and I went out to IHOP for breakfast one morning in our Honda Odyssey. One breakfast, two dealerships and four hours later we drove home in this 2011 Honda Pilot."

    - Amy Danise

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    Madeleine Brand, host of public radio's The Madeleine Brand Show, sent in this photo of her 2010 Jetta TDI SportWagen, parked in a car pool spot at the headquarters of Southern California Public Radio.

    - Madeleine Brand

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    Micheline Maynard, senior editor of Changing Gears, a public media project, sent in this photo and writes:"Here's me and my 2008 Prius in front of Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo, MS. My car's first big road trip was to visit car factories in the American South. A few weeks earlier, I would have gotten 26 mpg in my Lexus RX 330, which I traded for the Prius. On the way to Tupelo, I checked my gas mileage: it was 20 mpg per gallon better."

    - Micki Maynard

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    Steve Manzor, an Automotive Engineer for AAA, sent in this photo of his 2003 Ford Mustang GT.

    - Steve Manzor

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    John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, sent in this photo and writes: "My new 2011 Hyundai Sonata."

    - John Krafcik

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    Mike Quincy, Automotive Specialist with Consumer Reports, sent in this photo and writes: "My first new car, paid for by me, was a black 1987 Honda Civic Si with a five-speed manual transmission and no A/C (pictured is an '85 model, but it's almost identical to the '87). I bought it at a time when anything "Honda" was hot. The salesman told me the price that I was going to pay was exactly what was on the sticker. I actually remember: it was $10,043.75. But it was my first new car and I remember laughing to myself on the drive home; I couldn't believe it! I was so happy."

    - Mike Quincy

  • Photo 37 of 42

    Mike Quincy, Automotive Specialist with Consumer Reports also writes: "But not eight months later, I was looking at the classified ads in the local paper and came across this: 'For sale: 1985 Mazda RX-7; red; five-speed manual; only 5,500 miles.' Even though I wasn't close to paying off my beloved Honda, I had to have it. I mean, a first-generation RX-7 was a coveted car -- top-rated by all the enthusiast magazines. Plus, I reasoned, why don't I get my two-seat sports car now and have my mid-life crisis when I'm only 25 so I can get it out of the way?"

    - Mike Quincy

  • Photo 38 of 42

    Harold Taylor of Cincinnati, Ohio, sent in this photo and writes: "This is not my main car. It's my fun car. I first saw it in 2001 at a Kit Car show in Carlisle, Pa. It's a cross between a Formula One car or an IndyCar and a motorcycle. It's licensed as a street legal motorcycle. You actually sit down in the car like you're a Formula One driver with a steering wheel and two side mirrors. You shift with a paddle shifter. The clutch, accelerator, and brake are on the floor. The engine is a Kawasaki ZRX1100 motocycle bolted to the frame. When you're riding in the car, you're strapped in like a real racer with a 5-point safety harness. I think about safety so, I wear a helmet."

    - Harold Taylor

  • Photo 39 of 42

    Peter Pokorski of Belmont, Massachusetts, sent in this photo and writes: "When many a young man's fantasy wasn't on girls it was on cars. Since the early '60s I've always been fascinated with European (exotic at the time) vehicles. They were different. Unlike the mass produced American Iron cranked out here at a machines pace many of the low production, hand assembled cars of Germany, Italy, France and Britain were unique. When you saw a Porsche in those days it was usually followed by "WOW." So, here is one of those cars of my past childhood. Although I have owned it since 1994, it has recently (last 4 years) undergone a nut and bolt restoration. I am lucky to have a career, a hobby and a passion all wrapped up in one discipline. A great big thanks to my wife for being so understanding."

    - Peter Pokorski

  • Photo 40 of 42

    Alex Tanouye of Chevy Chase, Maryland, sent in this photo and writes: "That's me, my 14 month-old son, Otis, and my 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. I took possession of the Boss 302 the day before my 36th birthday. After signing the paperwork at the dealership, I immediately transferred my Otis's carseat from the traded-in SUV to the back of the Boss 302. The sales manager and staff watched me do this in disbelief; they assumed the car would be a garage queen. In fact, it's my daily driver and Otis and I spend a lot of time commuting to day care and listening to Kiss, Cinderella, The White Stripes, and the glorious V-8 rumble roaring from the quad exhaust. Otis has developed a reasonably good imitation of the Boss 302's rumble on acceleration, and listening to Kiss, Otis, and the car all at once as we head off to day care is as good as it gets."

    - Alex Tanouye

  • Photo 41 of 42

    Spencer Collins of Glendale, California, sent in this photo and writes: "This is my father, Russ Collins, with his 1934 Ford Coupe. My brother and I (we're both adults) joke that this is his favorite child. He's done a great job restoring the car (my mother can attest - their retirement account has surely dwindled getting this bad boy in tip-top shape). In all seriousness though, my Dad has made a great group of friends through his love of old cars."

    - Spencer Collins

  • Photo 42 of 42

    Ralph Gilles, CEO of the Dodge brand and Head of Product Design and Style for the Chrysler Group, sent in this photo and writes: "Me and my favorite vehicle - the Dodge Viper."

    - Ralph Gilles

Aside from owning a home, chances are your second biggest financial blackhole is your car.

So on April 29 Marketplace Money is going on the road - for the full hour program - to explore all the ways we dump money into car ownership: Buying them, fixing them, and for some folks, drooling all over them.

All week leading up to the show we're publishing money-saving car tips in the Makin' Money blog.

First up, discover sure-fire ways to save money on your car insurance from Amy Danise, tbe Sr. Managing Editor at Insure.com. Also, are you ready to move from the SUV to the HOV? Micheline Maynard, senior editor of Changing Gears, explains how to buy your first hybrid.

Later this week: Buying vs. leasing a car; "Dummies" guide to buying a used car, and smartphone apps to improve your driving experience.

You are what you drive

Before then, we're on the hunt for photos and feedback from listeners about your connections to the cars you drive.

"Cars are not an appliance. They're an extension of yourself and your personality, and what you stand for. It could be a sports car because you like speed. It could be a hybrid because you want to be green. It could be an SUV because it says 'look at me, I'm a big outdoorsy person.'

"This country is all about cars for better of for worse."

That comment from Mike Quincy, Automotive Specialist with Consumer Reports, sums it up pretty well. And it got us thinking about what motivates people to drive the car they do.

Here's where you come in. Send us a photo of your most memorable car along with a short summary about how it represents you. We'll add your photo to our slideshow alongside submissions from the Marketplace staff (including Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal, pictured above in his 1971 Oldsmobile convertible).

To submit your contribution, attach your write up and your photo to our submission form.

SEND US YOUR SUBMISSION

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.

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