His father had owned a series of Volkswagen Beetles for as long as he could remember, and car that he learned to drive on was an old white bug with a questionable safety record. This was technically his mother's car, but because she was increasingly ill throughout his high school years, David Burrow was really the primary driver. Learning to drive with a VW made it a challenge when he had to parallel park an enormous Chevy Impala in driver's education.
Mr. Burrow didn't have a car in college. He borrowed various friends' cars so he could visit his mother in the hospital and later drive to her funeral. To get around Cedar Falls he walked or bummed rides with friends, and he occasionally used public buses to travel out of town. While in college he borrowed his brother's car to make a road trip to Colorado to visit a friend.
While he was student teaching, David Burrow drove his father's peach-colored 1979 Plymouth Champ (a sub-compact made by Mitsubishi for Chrysler). He also drove this to a variety of job interviews, including one in Wyoming. On the way home from that interview he hit an antelope, causing substantial front-end damage. He inherited the Champ when his father died, making it the first car he owned.
In 1984, Mr. Burrow paid cash for a new American-made Dodge Omni, one of the worst cars ever produced. Almost everything about that car seemed to make it a lemon, and many other Omni owners have made similar remarks. The car was loaded with special features, and sooner or later almost all of them seemed to malfunction.
In 1988 he replaced the Omni with a brand new Dodge Colt, a newer version of the car he got when his father died. He liked almost everything about the Colt, and he put over 100,000 miles on it before giving it away to his brother. The only serious problem with the Colt was that it never wanted to start in winter.
For sixteen years he drove a 1998 Chevy Metro, which he bought over the internet through the Autobytel service. He was extremely pleased with the process of buying a car online, and he mostly liked the Metro. While it bore the Chevy nameplate, the car was made by Suzuki in Canada. Perhaps it was its northern birthplace that made this the easiest-starting car he has ever owned. He finally traded the car when it had logged over 212,000 miles.
Mr. Burrow then bought a 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse that he bought used in 2014. It was a sporty car that was fun to drive. It came loaded has numerous special features, but at least it was a bit more reliable than the Omni was.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 he bought a used 2014 Kia Optima with very low mileage. While it's not his favorite car, it does drive well, and he hopes it will serve him well into the future. The car is larger than he cares to drive, but it does get reasonably good gas mileage.
Although he usually drives fairly close to the speed limit, like virtually every man in America, Mr. Burrow has tried out all his cars to see how fast they will go. The Colt definitely held the speed record. While it looked as if it should have no power, its turbo-charged Japanese engine easily topped 100 mph on an empty turnpike in southeast Oklahoma. The Metro takes forever to accelerate, but it has no problem holding 75 mph on western interstates, and it will top 80 without a problem. The worst car, once again, was the Omni. It was probably fortunate that the speed limit in the early '80s was 55mph, because the Omni struggled to do much over 60--especially with the air conditioning on. He didn't formally test out his later cars, but they exceeded did exceed the top speed of the Metro.
While he'll probably never have one, Mr. Burrow's dream has always been to own a Jeep. There is certainly nothing practical in this combination of cramped quarters and poor gas mileage (which has made the car less appealing as gas prices soar over $3 a gallon). Nevertheless, ever since he lusted after a friend's jeep in high school, that's the vehicle he has wanted.
LEFT: A white Volkswagen Beetle, similar to the one in which Mr. Burrow learned to drive
RIGHT: The first car Mr. Burrow owned -- a peach Plymouth Champ he inherited from his father
LEFT: The dreaded Dodge Omni
RIGHT: Mr. Burrow's 1984 Dodge Colt parked by his dorm at the University of Southern Mississippi
Mr. Burrow's Chevy Metro near Sexton, Iowa
(The photo was taken during the Student Council Adopt-a-Highway project during a flood following the severe winter of 2002.)
Mr. Burrow's Mitsubishi Eclipse in a supermarket parking lot in 2014
Dealer photo of Mr. Burrow's Kia Optima before he bought it
Google satellite view showing Mr. Burrow's car parked in front of
Bishop Garrigan High School (just north of the entryway).
An advertisement for the Jeep Wrangler, the vehicle Mr. Burrow dreams of driving
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