Rental Cars I have known and loved (at least as far as I can remember…)

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 was 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:  Three-day weekend to Saint Louis, Hertz Ford Fusion.  Beautiful car with lots of geegaws.  Two big for two people but I didn’t care!

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!

2014:  Flew into Charlotte, grabbed an NC-plate National from the Executive Aisle and drove to Knoxville.  First location where I could pick my own car, or rather my moms did, she liked the pearl paint on a 2015 Buick Verano with 1300 miles onnit.  It would have been too big if it had just been me, but it was a beautiful highway long-distance car.

2015:  Drove to Fort Hood, TX and return.  2015 Kia Sedona LX, minivan is what we needed and minivan is what we got.  I love driving to Texas, as long as the icy roads were done with before we left.  I love southern Oklahoma, too bad we drove through OK at night :-(.  LX level is damn near base, but well-appointed–the dashboard control panel is illegible during the day, and the entertainment center is too complicated to work while driving.  I would want fog lights and wifey would want butt-warmers. KS plates, ironic since we drove N-S-N through the entire state!

2015:  Another trip to KC to chase trains and get Steak ‘n Shake.  Hertz had a weekend special, which resulted in me getting a 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500, NE plates.  Way too big, and 20 MPG highway besides, but the $25 bill made up for that.  No fog lights.

2015:  First-ever drive to Chicago, to visit with friends who were going to a RUSH concert (Wifey and I weren’t going, long story).  Enterprise neighborhood lot gave us a 2014 Chevy C(r)aptiva, MO plates, 38K Mi., for crying out loud!  Tired tires, and I smelled oil whenever the transmission downshifted.  OTOH, best seats of any rental I’ve driven!

2015: Another trip to Fort Hood, another granddaughter! Enterprise neighborhood lot gave us a 2015 Toyota RAV4, AWD(!), fogs, nice car but we needed bigger. MT plates. Great gas mileage. Originally rented for one week but turned out to be two. Check engine light came on within five miles, Enterprise told us to ignore it. Tire pressure light came on, but never could figure out what tire.  This car doesn’t have a front plate bracket, so when its prepped the plate just gets screwed into the bumper cover.  In this car’s case, screwed in not-horizontally.  That’s will require some explaining come resale time…

2016:  Another trip to KC for trainchasing.  Walked through National’s lot at Eppley Airport, saw a Kentucky-plate Nissan Rogue (SEC!SEC!!SEC!!!), walked into the terminal, got that car in five minutes, no problem!  Plastic wheelcovers and no fog lights, I thought that strange because it was AWD.  However, all things considered it was a better car than the Rogue I’d rented in 2013.  None of the 12V outlets worked, so I had to be vigilant of my cellphone use.

2016:  Flew to Las Vegas.  Got a NV-plate Hyundai Elantra from National and drove it 69 miles in a weekend.  No rain, no bugs–wipers never moved.  Great car, as Elantras are.

2017: Seattle. Wifey had her eye on a Kia Soul for her next car, so we tried one out for the weekend. Violent metallic lime green. Fog lights were nice. Fantastic car–everything I needed, wifey’s not so sure. Got a year to decide…

2017:  Kansas City-ish.  Train-chasing and Steak ‘n Shake.  Enterprise local lot Hyundai Elantra, NC plates (ACC!ACC!!ACC!!!).  Saw 44 MPG @ 73 MPH regularly on I-29. Another wonderful Hyundai.

2017:  “Sex Weekend” (rrrright…) in KC.  Enterprise neighborhood lot, another Nissan Rogue.  I really like this car, althought too big for us empty-nesters.  Butt warmers, no fogs, backup camera.  32 highway.  Missouri plates, not much selection so we fit in.

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Author: Damon Hynes

Used to chase tornadoes, until Ma Nature ran out of them...

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