There are a number of vehicles that stand out in their time and last in the minds of car enthusiasts long after for a number of reasons. The Ford Pinto and its fuel tank placed in the back of the car, resulting in several deadly fires after rear-end collisions. The Chevrolet Nova and its struggles in Spanish-speaking markets as its translation is “no go”. The Ford Bronco can’t be mentioned without someone saying “The Juice is loose!”. But the first car I ever drove is one that is easily recognizable and brings a smile to my face any time I see it. The Geo Tracker.
My first time in a driver’s seat found me in an old Geo Tracker at my neighbor’s house. They had two Trackers, one they drove around town and the other for bopping around their property as they owned a number of acres with horses and offering a mix of marshy swampland at the back side of their property. So there I sat at 13 or 14, never having driven a vehicle before and behind the wheel of a Geo Tracker in the middle of a marsh. I had driven a go kart before and this felt similar enough but was still noticeably different considering it was an actual vehicle. The control of its compact frame but off-road capabilities allowed us to scoot, glide, and drift through the mud, much to the chagrin of my over-bearing mother (although I never told her I did this until much later in life at the risk she wouldn’t allow me back to this friend’s house).
As I grew up and got my license I would occasionally drive other friends’ cars for a variety of reasons but nothing stuck with me quite like that Geo Tracker. I remember driving it at a time when cars were getting bigger and bigger, and yet here was this almost petite SUV. Looking the car up again, I learned that the Tracker was actually certified as a light truck due to its off-road capabilities and body-on-frame construction. If I could purchase any car now as a secondary vehicle or work vehicle of some kind, I would certainly look into finding a Geo Tracker to bring it back and offer others the same smile that sneaks across my face when encountering this unique and diminutive dynamo.