If you have you ever seen the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme action classic “Kickboxer,” you may remember his character Kurt Sloane’s nickname, Nok Su Kow (if you haven’t seen “Kickboxer”, congratulations, you have something to occupy 97 minutes of your time this evening). As we learn during Sloane’s journey to avenge his brother’s paralysis at the hands (and shins) of the evil Tong Po, Nok Su Kow is Thai for white warrior.
At Vintage Ltd. we tend to gravitate towards cars with speed. Sometimes quick cars aren’t always memorable if they’re lacking other key traits, like toughness for instance. Which brings me to a car that will always have a special place in my heart, my former ride, a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am SE. Or as I refer to it, Nok Su Kow.
In 2004, I was living in Lincoln Park, a Chicago neighborhood where 20-somethings often live after they graduate from college. One of the benefits of city-living was that I didn’t own (or need) a car. This was all well and good for a couple of years, but eventually I wanted a little more freedom and flexibility to get around.
At the time, I wanted a Mazda Speed 6 with a manual. After locating a ‘nearby’ Mazda dealership, I took a 45-minute train ride out to the burbs to take one for a test drive. On the trip back to the city I daydreamed about cruising around in my new Mazda with the windows down and (optional) sunroof open. I had the color picked out and everything.
After talking it over with my dad, he sensibly convinced me to buy my mom’s 2000 Pontiac Grand Am SE. I didn’t care for that idea initially, but as a semi-recent college grad with some debt I couldn’t turn down a $1,200 car.
Not surprisingly, I did not like the Pontiac at first. The car was not cool or fun to drive and, to put it lightly, was not unique. I’d see my Pontiac’s doppelgänger everywhere I’d go. Chicago seemed to be littered with them.
With that said, the Grand Am grew on me. There’s something to be said about a beater. Do just enough maintenance to keep it running and park anywhere without a second thought of door dings. It never stranded me. The thing started up every day, rain or shine.
I ended up owning the Grand Am for seven years. During that time it had a tough life. The air conditioner broke after the first summer and I couldn’t afford to fix it. Some of the body work was damaged after smacking it into a construction horse trying to get the car to drift. Even the radio wasn’t spared as it was stolen not once, but twice! And as Chicagoans can attest, street parking can be, um, challenging. The white warrior was towed four times but thankfully never booted.
I’ve had some nice cars since I traded in Nok Su Kow. Cars I never thought I would be able to afford. Even though the car I had in my 20s was not my dream car it’s still tattooed in my brain. It conjures up amusing memories that bring a smile to my face and for that reason it deserves a spot on our blog.