On British Automobiles, Cows And The One That Got Away

Illustration for article titled On British Automobiles, Cows And The One That Got Away

I own a 2001 Land Rover Discovery II SE7 and I love it — even though it's always broken.

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Hi! I'm Jordan Golson, and I'm going to be helping out at Jalopnik for the next couple of days. I've been driving vehicles of one sort or another since I was a toddler, when my grandfather first let me take the wheel of the tractor on his cattle farm. I was barely old enough to know left from right, let alone which cows to aim for. Little did I know I was starting on a journey where I would constantly find myself dodging farm animals. In the 15 years from tractor to driver's license, I earned a healthy respect for the open road (or field).

My first car was a 1988 Mercury Grand Marquis. It had straight pipes. It was awesome until the brakes failed and the gas tank literally fell off while it was getting towed. Next.

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You know how there's that one girl that got away? My next car, a 1995 Dodge Neon was that car. It was mint when I got it and I drove it into the ground. I wish I'd appreciated the fantastic gas mileage and the fact that it worked great even though I didn't change the oil the entire time I owned it. High schoolers are stupid.

I had a brief experience with a 1996 Ford Probe (not even the GT version) that I bought for a song off a friend. I think it lasted 10,000 miles before the head gasket blew. Stupid purchase.

Illustration for article titled On British Automobiles, Cows And The One That Got Away

Next, I inherited my grandfather's 1988 Jeep Wagoneer. It's a beautiful piece of American machinery. It sat for two years, neglected and unappreciated, but with just a jump-start, it roared to life. I drove that for a while, but it's been sitting for almost two years again. I bet it would still start right up with just a jump.

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It's got to be more reliable and cheaper to maintain than my current choice of conveyance. After a particularly nerve-wracking moment nearly spinning the Jeep in a rainstorm, I decided I wanted something safer. After much research, I settled on a 2001 Land Rover Discovery II SE7. I love my Land Rover. It's big, it's luxurious, it has all-wheel drive and ABS and traction control. It was cheap and I can now plow through the worst New England winter storms with zero problems. It's a brilliant, brilliant car.

When it works.

Which isn't often.

In the two years I've owned the "Land Beast", it has sat in my driveway for almost half that time. For months it was leaking coolant and I would dutifully refill the tank whenever I bought gas. Then it was every 3 days. Then every morning. Eventually, it refused to hold coolant at all and whatever I added would promptly pour out the bottom of the engine. I got that fixed, and everything was fine for a while. Now, the poor thing has been sitting for months because it makes a massive "chunk" noise if I shift into gear and I'm too broke to get the thing fixed.

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Illustration for article titled On British Automobiles, Cows And The One That Got Away

My friends have repeatedly tried to convince me to sell the thing, but I just can't bring myself to do it. It would be like selling one of my own limbs. Every car I've owned had its pros and cons, but I loved each one in its own way. And I learned something from each one too.

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I learned that everyone's first car should be a piece-of-shit beater. I learned that every guy should have a stick-shift because teaching girls to drive it is a great way to get dates. I learned to be wary of late 90s Fords. I learned that, for half the year, if you own anything besides an SUV in Massachusetts you are an idiot. I learned that if you buy a British car you will become excellent friends with your mechanic, but you wouldn't trade it for anything.

Illustration for article titled On British Automobiles, Cows And The One That Got Away
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I also learned that going to a professional driving school is a MUST for any teenaged driver. The skills I learned at Skip Barber have directly saved me from at least two accidents. Plus, I got to drive a Dodge Viper, which was pretty awesome for a 17-year old.

In the past, I've written for a number of tech blogs, including Gawker Media's Valleywag, and I'm thrilled that Ray is giving me the opportunity to play around here at Jalopnik. I hope you'll welcome me and I'll try my best to keep bringing you the best in automotive journalism. OK, seriously, I can't even type that with a straight face. Let's just have some fun, shall we?

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DISCUSSION

Hmmmm, I think you need to post mileage estimates on those cars you drove into the ground. I don't like the idea of someone who just abuses cars to death being a car reviewer.

You're 23 years old and you've been through a Mercury Grand Marquis, a Dodge Neon, a Ford Probe, a Jeep Wagoneer and a Land Rover Discovery.

Just to compare, my first car was a Dodge Colt that each of my 2 brothers and my sister wrecked at least once before I got it. Second car was my oldest brother's Colt Turbo, which I had a hand in replacing the clutch and then handed it off to my dad as a daily driver. Third car was a used Horizon, which was still running well after 140k miles when I bought my first new car a '96 Sebring coupe. I traded in Sebring at 140+k miles for my current '04 Jeep Liberty that now has 130k miles (a hundred or so on rocks, rivers and ruts). I'm 38.

I might be a curmudgeon, but Tiberiuswise warned you that we can be a rough crowd.