1988: Flew to Hawai’i, got a Mazda 626 (HI plates, lol) from the Hilo airport. This might be the first ‘imported’ car I ever drove—but in Hawai’i, American cars are the imports! Went to pull the light switch and popped the hood, and of course it was pitch dark…
1990. Didn’t feel like putting miles on my leaser, so got a Toyota Tercel (NE plates) and drove to Chillicothe. It was a car.
1991: Five year anniversary, rented a Hertz Lincoln Continental, (NE plates) and drove to Chillicothe, MO then Brunswick and Moberly chasing trains. Saw a landspout tornado in Cameron.
1991: ATL-SAV-ATL, Budget, Mopar sedan of some sort (GA plates) which made no impression.
1996-1997: Took two trips to KC, each time I rented a Mopar Breeze/Stratus (NE plates). Nice cars at the time, but they didn’t age well.
2003: Atlanta and North Georgia, wedding, then SAV and back to ATL. Ford Taurus, (OH plates). Decent car, one of the millions Ford built for rental agencies just to say they had ‘sold’ the most cars of any marque.
2005: Buffalo/Niagara Falls/Toronto/Erie. Alamo at BUF gave us a PA plate Chrysler Sebring two-door (with two kids) and were fairly unapologetic about it. I’ve never driven a two-door car since.
2006: Nashville/Knoxville/NC/VA. Enterprise Kia Sedona (TN plates). Delightful minivan, I’d buy one today if they were still made.
2007: Kona, Hertz Chevy Malibu, HI plates (go figure). It was a Chevy.
2007: New Orleans/Gulfport/Hattiesburg. Hertz Mazda6, AL plates. Fantastic car. Love Mazdas.
2007: Dallas on the way back from New Orleans. Dodge Nitro (TX plates), Hertz knew we weren’t going far or for long so we got ‘upgraded’. Too much car for two people, too much car for twenty. Bird tried to play chicken with us and got absolutely destroyed on a side mirror. No damage to the car!
2007: Jacksonville/St Simons Island/SAV. Hertz Toyota RAV4. Nice car, better car for two rather than the five we were hauling. LA plates, ironic because we had been in NOLA earlier with AL plates…
2008: Rented a Hertz Chevy Impala from the Colorado Springs airport in order to drive up Pike’s Peak. CO plates for some reason…
2008: BOS/Montreal/Toronto/Buffalo. Hertz gave us a MA plate Ford Edge with six miles onnit. Perfect car for what we needed, and I let Hertz know about it.
2009: Had to go to Dallas to bring a car home for my daughter. Hertz’ ‘Green Collection’ was cheaper than a straight-up sedan, so I got a Toyota Prius for ninety miles. KS plates. Fine car, perfect for city driving.
2009: Atlanta for my wife’s trade show. Hertz Chevy Malibu, GA plates, paddle-shifter in an automatic? No wonder why GM went BK.
2010: Went to KC train chasing. Hertz gave me a Mazda5, MO plates, so I was resigned to fitting in, being in Missouri and all. North of KC, the windshield wiper shredded, so I stopped at MCI, where Hertz gave me another Mazda5, with GA plates! That’s more like it!
2010: Tornado chasing in S KS / N OK. Big hail was forecast so I got a NE plate Chevy Cobalt. Airflow was such that the mist I was driving in most of the day wouldn’t clear from the windshield, Rain-X was useless. NO CRUISE CONTROL! Thought my leg was going to fall off. Decent car, nothing more.
2011. Finally, a business trip. Hyundai Elantra for five days. New cars are so much better now than back in the day. TX plates, of course.
2012: Houston for a RUSH concert. Enterprise/National Kia Optima, upper-level trim level, nice car, but I’d want something smaller. TX plates, naturally.
2013: Train chasing in KC. Enterprise/National, Chevy Tahoe. Thanks for the ‘upgrade’, but way too much car for one person. TN plates were nice, snob factor and all.
2013: KC again, RUSH concert and trains. Enterprise/National Hyundai Elantra, MN plates. Nice car, Sirius/XM.
2013: KC for trains, turned into a stormchase. Enterprise/National Nissan Rogue, base trim level was disappointing and the KS plates were meh. Interested in small crossovers, but I’d never buy one with this trim level.
2013: KC for Steak ‘n Shake! Enterprise/National Ford Taurus, fully loaded. IA plates were underwhelming, but the car was more luxurious than a similar Lincoln! Drove through severe thunderstorms on the way back, nice touch.
2014: KC train chasing. Enterprise/National gave me a Nissan Altima, base level, IL plates. Very good car, but slightly too big for consideration as a daily driver and I’d want more options.
2014: Trains, KC and just south, Enterprise/National gave me a Mazda CX-5, AR plates! Was glad to see this on the lot, I have no need for AWD and this was the first FWD I had seen. Mazda still knows how to make them! Loaded trim level, I was hoping to win the lottery so I could buy this from the agency…I like to get plates from southeastern states, and to find Arkansas on a high-end Mazda was like Christmas!