Sports Cars I Have Owned,
Loved, & Endured

The Personal Automotive History
of Dave King

(To be perfectly honest, the pictures you are about to see are not of the exact cars I owned, but are indeed pictures of cars of the same make, model and year; with only the colors (occasionally) being different.)

mga dashboardMy first sports car, a 1957 MGA, was purchased in 1961. It was a "4 on the floor ragtop", and you had to be somewhat nuts to put up with this car, which I suppose I was. There were no roll down windows; only sliding plastic panels in an aluminum frame that lifted off the door and stored behind the seats for top down driving, (which of course I did at every opportunity.) There were no door handles - to open a door from the outside you slid open the window (the car was unlockable), reached inside and into an opening inside the door, and pulled down on a cable. The "boot" and "bonnet" (trunk and hood) were made of aluminum to reduce the weight and help out the tiny 1275 cc, 75 bhp engine. The top was an "erector set" design, and with experience the tonneau cover could be removed and the top erected in 6 minutes (once timed, in a pouring rain storm, by a highly amused friend from the shelter of his car parked next to me.) To its credit, it had windshield washers, far ahead of Detroit. (Never mind that you had pump a pedal on the floor to make it work.)

The major downfall of the car was its reliability, and it was frequently in the repair shop. But, with the top down on a sunny day, with the wind tousling your hair, it was fun, fun, fun!

1957 mga

1957 MGA - My first love! In red! `Nuff already said. I was forced to sell it when I joined the Peace Corps.

1965 tr4a

1965 TR4A - This car had the luxury of roll up windows and a top permanently attached to a frame that could be manually unfolded in a few minutes. It carried on the British tradition of not making reliability a concern in the design of the car. It had a 2138 cc engine with 105 bhp. This car probably deserves some credit in attracting my mate-for-life, and for that I'm eternally grateful!

porsche 912

1965 Porsche 912 - I purchased this car used in 1968, and it is my all-time favorite from an appearance standpoint. its handling was superb, but it had serious rust problems typical of Porsche's of that vintage, and since I couldn't afford its big brother, the 911 with its awesome six cylinder engine, I had to make do with 912's (essentially) souped-up Volkswagen "4-banger". However, the real problem turned out to be that I couldn't find a local garage that knew how to maintain it, and thus I reluctantly sold it after only a few years.

bmw 1600

1970 BMW 1600 - Thinking back, I have no idea what attracted me to this car. It was one of the first sports sedans made, with a peppy engine, good handling, and a sun roof. But, with its high center of gravity it had much more body lean than I was used to, and the seating was at a normal height instead of the 12 inches (or so it seemed) above the road that I was use to with my previous cars. I sold it after a year, and "returned to the womb" (see the following car).

fiat spyder 850

1971 Fiat Spyder 850 - This was a tiny (almost toy-like) car with a very small (yes, 850 cc) engine, but this low power gave you the pleasure of "red-lining" it up through all of its 4 gears each time you started from a stop. The growl/whine/shriek of the engine being put through its paces was music to my ears. Apparently Italian automotive engineers took their cue from the British when it came to reliability, and again I came to know my mechanic very well. It also had big-time rust problems, but I managed to nurse 10 years out of it, loving every moment (when it wasn't in the repair shop).

fiat spyder 124

1977 Fiat Spyder 124 - You would have thought that I would have learned by now about the reliability of Fiats, but apparently I hadn't. I bought this car used in 1980, and it cost me, by far, more per year in maintenance costs than any other car I've owned; mostly due to drive-train problems. However, its engine was almost twice as big as the 850, and thus it was fun to finally drive a car that had reasonable acceleration.

What really caused me to sell this car was that the boys eventually grew to the point where they could no longer be squeezed into its (pseudo) back seat. Unfortunately, my finances at the time dictated the purchase a "practical" car, and thus, for the first time in my life, I bought a non-sports car. It served my family well, and lasted the boys through college, but its mundane history will be left undocumented.

honda crx-si

1988 Honda CRX-SI - Perhaps influenced by my advancing years, I cannot help but declare that this was (and is) by far the best sports car that I have owned. The CRX came in three models, with the small-engined, high-geared HF model holding (at the time) the record for the most fuel efficient car sold in the US. The SI is a completely different beast; with a hot engine and very low gearing that results in a 0-60 time of 8.6 seconds! In addition, its low profile tires and superb suspension give it a glued-to-the-road feeling in corners. (This was particularly true with its original Yokohama tires. Unfortunately, I discovered that their handling characteristics were due to a soft compound that ended up giving me less that 20,000 miles. With more practical tires the cornering capabilities dropped from incredible to excellent.)

And on top of all this, the car has a quality that was previously unknown to me in my sports car automotive experience - reliability! Finally, pleasure without pain!

Road Ends sign

June 18th, 2002 - The Road Ends - Sadly, all journeys must eventually come to an end. The CRX was 14 years old, and we were moving to the mountains. Our new driveway was sloped and unpaved, and the access roads to many trail heads and canoe put-ins were primitive. Thus, our requirements for a second car were now 4WD and reasonable ground clearance, forcing my sports car days to come to an end. It was a wonderful journey, and I have many fond memories and no regrets!