My first car was a maroon Isuzu I-Mark. As I recall, it looked more-or-less like this:

1987 Isuzu I-Mark

Only not quite that nice.

It was a strange little car, made up of a mash-up of Isuzu and Mopar parts (it was also sold in the U.S. as the Chevy Spectrum).

I bought it for $400 from a friend’s older brother, who said that was just enough to cover the taxes on his newly acquired, wood-paneled Jeep Wagoneer. Maybe he was lying, but I was a trusting kid, I guess. Or I was just desperate for a car after my parents sold their spare car to my sister’s boyfriend. That car was a 1983 Toyota Celica GT-S, which looked like this:

1983 Toyota Celica GT-S

Maybe it wouldn’t have been reliable, either. But it was a five-speed with power everything (even moon roof), and it looked like it was going fast even standing still.

The first thing I did to my I-Mark was to put about $450 worth of audio equipment into it. Why didn’t I just buy an $850 car you ask? Good question, man. Good. Effing. Question.

One day while driving past my high school to my girlfriend’s house, it became apparent that I hadn’t done a bang-up job of installing the stereo when the driver’s side speakers cut out. I decided to just reach down, ever so carefully, and check the connections with my hand while I drove along. Let me just say now that I’m sorry to the person whose mailbox I sideswiped.

Surprisingly I didn’t grow up to be a car stereo installation technician.

I don’t remember how long I owned it before the day it started spewing smoke on the way home from band practice. The head gasket was blown. The guy driving the wrecker told me the axle was also badly cracked. He offered to charge me $30 to tow it or give me $50 to take the car for parts.

I let him have it, but I kept the stereo.