I bought my first car at the age of 27. It was a stick shift Toyota Tercel, a really pretty blue, with a black interior. It cost around $7,000. Even on a theater artist’s income, I was able to pay it off quickly, and with its fuel economy, I was able to afford the gas I needed to drive it.
I simply loved the car. As my mechanic said, it was “fine automotive.” I never had any problems with it. Nothing broke. I hardly had any maintenance costs beyond the basic wear and tear, such as buying new tires or getting the oil changed.
I loved to drive that car — up and down the east coast to visit friends, family and my boyfriend in New York City, and I’ll never forget a couple magical cross-country trips. I would crank up the radio, the wind in my hair. It was a kind of freedom I’d not experienced before, and it was exhilarating.
I drove that car for years and years. Even when I got a job at America Online in Virginia and parked in a garage with AOL stock-infused Ferraris and Lamborghinis, I stuck with my beloved Toyota. Even when one of my business partners openly mocked the car as the “blue bomb,” and not too subtly encouraged me to upgrade my image with a convertible BMW, I stuck loyally to my Toyota.
I finally decided to replace the car when the rust almost became open holes, due to driving in the harsh conditions of wintry, treated Massachusetts roads, and the car started burning oil like crazy. But I’ve never found a car I loved as much, and sometimes I wished I just kept it going.
My dad is still driving his old 1992 Toyota pickup truck, with no rust, thanks to California’s dry weather. I enjoy driving it when I’m out there. I also love to borrow my friend’s old Toyota Echo when I visit her in Colorado — that car feels just like my Tercel. My sister’s family has a Camry, and my mother is a diehard loyal Corolla driver, currently on her third one. We are truly a Toyota family.
But for me, no more.
I’ve learned a great deal about climate change in the intervening years, and the last car I chose was a plug-in hybrid from Ford, because I wanted to support an American automaker going in the right direction. But to be frank, I’ve had a lot of problems with that vehicle, and I fully intended to either rejigger my life so I don’t need a car (hard right now due to elder care) — or buy another Toyota.
But then this year happened. When Toyota sided with the Trump administration on the rollback of the Clean Car standards, and then this past week joined Trump in a lawsuit against California and four other automakers over emissions standards, I was done. I simply cannot support a company that is siding with climate denial and actions that will make the largest source of planet-warming pollution even worse.
My loyalty has been crushed, and I am truly disappointed.