What's the Sketchiest Car You've Ever Driven?

Illustration for article titled What's the Sketchiest Car You've Ever Driven?
Photo: David Tracy

Road trips are the best! I feel lucky (most of the time) to live in a state that has so much wide open space that travel between major cities involves a good drive. I’ll take any excuse I can to get on the road, sometimes to a fault.

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My love of the road does backfire sometimes, like when a relative asked me to deliver the sketchiest car I’ve ever driven to Houston, Texas. She bought an eighth-generation Honda Civic sight unseen from a friend who had parked the car after a rear end-collision. The crash messed up the trunk but left most of the Civic OK so I figured, ah, what the hell. It’s a Honda. It’s a drive to Houston. Why not? I took the car from her friend and spent an hour in the garage trying to zip tie something or rig up ballast to keep the trunk closed. It took something like a whole pack of zip ties and a spare tire to keep it all together.

I set out the next day and had just driven North of the checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, when I was beset by one of the worst storms I’ve ever driven in my whole life. Visibility was low and the rain was pounding. The road I was on, US-281 North, is a truck route. So, it’s a road full of tractor trailers which would come hulking past the little Honda Civic and decrease visibility even more with tire spray. I could hear all of this in the cabin because the damn trunk didn’t close!

It was bad; it was not a very Honda drive. I took it slow and steady and after a nerve-wracking drive I made it to Houston. When I got there, my relative thanked me and her mechanic took the car and keys and drove around the block.

When he got back he asked me how the hell had I driven that car in that storm with those brakes? It turns out that car was badly in need of a braking system refresh and I hadn’t even noticed! I drove the sketchiest Honda Civic, with a salvage title with a broken trunk and (almost) no brakes for nearly 400 miles.

Yea. I’m never doing that again. So, what about y’all? What’s the sketchiest car you’ve ever driven?

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Periodista automotriz, Naturally Aspirated Stan.

DISCUSSION

I live for sketchy cars.

Had an MGB that I always carried a 5 gallon jug of water in the trunk. Not because it would overheat, but because long freeway trips would catch the driver’s carpet on fire. The water was to put that out.

First car I bought with my own money was a Peugeot 504 diesel. You couldn’t put anything smaller than a mid-size Samsonite in the trunk or it would fall out. The fuel cut off system didn’t work, so the only way to stop the engine was put the car in gear and dump the clutch to stall it. Once there was a massive under dash fire, but nothing stopped working so we ignored it.

My current daily driver has no ABS, and therefore the speedometer doesn’t work. Been that way for over a year. Windscreen’s broken, too.

My Jaguar was a pretty good car back in the day.

And then there was my Civic.