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Why we fall in love and stay in love with certain car models

Darcel Rockett, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

Car love.

For some, it's an obsession. One that rivals first love. Something that you never forget. And compare everything else to.

"I have learned that there is no known cure for this affliction other than death," said Burt Richmond, managing partner of Chicago's Collectors Car Garage. He gave his loyalty to a 1954 Commander Starlight after he worked across the street from a Studebaker dealership in his youth, enthralled and forever smitten by its style.

He's not alone. "As I schmooze with other car enthusiasts, the thread that always comes up are these adolescent dreams that become repressed obsessions," Richmond said. "It certainly rang true for me."

A love like this breeds commitment and a loyalty than can last for years. That's what happened when I was introduced to the Honda Accord.

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My first was a used six-cylinder with a green exterior and beige interior. It didn't necessarily call to me from across a crowded dealership lot, but after riding in it and feeling the pickup when hitting the highway, I was hooked. I never looked back from the Green Hornet. I am an Accord loyalist. Low to the ground, my current sedan hugs turns like we hugged our friends when the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986 -- fiercely. And even though this one doesn't have all the accouterments of newer models, its presence in my life is like a cup of hot cocoa in a world of cold shoulders.

On the eve of the Chicago Auto Show, I sought other car owners with a similar love.

John Schumacher, president of the Windy City Miata Club, fell in love with two-seater roadsters in the 1970s thanks to the British Triumph Spitfire. But it wasn't until he came across the more reliable Mazda Miata that he and his wife found their forever car model.

"It's the car and the handling itself, you're really one with the road, the car is so responsive," he said. "It's the experience of the open car. You drive down Lake Shore and you can smell the lake, you drive through the forest preserve and you can feel the change in temperature. You're just so aware of the world around you -- the only thing better would be to be on a motorcycle."


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