The Rice Rocket

24 08 2009

Some people grow up and recall a childhood memory like fishing with their fathers, weekend camping trips or shopping with their mothers. For me it was the cars. I didn’t grow up with warm fuzzy memories of wrestling with the family dog or swinging under the tree. Living in Oakland it was about the cars. Before there was Vin Diesel and the Fast and Furious movie series, there was the real thing happening in the streets.

I remember as a kid wanting to have the dream car. It wasn’t German, nor was it American Muscle – it was Japanese. Hondas, Acuras & Toyotas are what my friends rolled around in. From Integras, to Civics, to CRXs, to Corollas, we found some way to soup it up. I have never owned a new car and I didn’t have the dough to shell out for 20” rims, but I knew that one day I would own a Rice Rocket.

My Rice Rocket didn’t have a Momo wheel or Recaro racing seats or even a loud exhaust. But it was a Honda. And we Asians love our Hondas. I bought mine with 100,000 miles on it. The key to buying a good used car is get it from an old couple who only drives it in town and shuttles their grand-children around. Better yet, buy it from an old Asian couple. They’re bound to put plastic wrap around the interior of the car.

I purchased the Civic from a sports fan. It had a huge RAIDERS logo on the back window. A friend of mine swapped out the factory radio for a cd face plate. And we put some JBL speakers in (No Sub though). There was nothing special about this car. No power windows, no cruise control, no guts. It was a standard 4 cylinder. What it lacked in looks and bling, it made up for on the highway. I got the car in 2001 and drove it from Castro Valley, CA to Dallas, TX. I averaged 42 mpg on that cross country drive!

The Rice Rocket made quite an impression in Dallas. Everyone knew it was my car because of the infamous RAIDER logo. I’m not a Cowboys fan so my car was easy to spot when parked next to huge American trucks with their gun racks and longhorn emblems. In the eight years I have owned this car, I have driven it to Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and everywhere in Texas. It has taken good care of me. When people complained about getting 15 mpg on their gas guzzling Suburbans and paying $80 to fill up, I would smile knowing I averaged 35 mpg and cost under $20 to top off the tank. My mechanic back in Cali told me that if I took care of the car, it would take good care of me. And it has. I sold my car this week to one of my old students. I know he and his family will continue the legacy of the Rice Rocket. It has been a great car for ministry. I didn’t care if it got scratched or dinged. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. As I pass the baton along, here are some fun facts about the 1995 Honda Civic 4DR 1.5 Liter 16V affectionately known as the Rice Rocket.

  • 220,104 miles on the car when sold
  • Taught over 25 students how to drive stick in the church parking lots, on surface streets and the back roads
  • Was broken into at the Seminary parking lot. Broken window, stolen toolbox but items were later recovered
  • Survived numerous rain and snowstorms fish-taling and did a 180 on Hwy 121 during the ice storm in December 08’
  • Same original engine
  • Belts replaced twice
  • Clutch replaced twice
  • Battery replaced four times in Texas
  • Four people have hit my car (three of them from Chase Oaks Church)
  • one seminary student sideswiped the passenger side parking his car
  • one student was such a horrible driver that he managed to hit my car in the church parking lot while backing up and cracked my headlamp. There were only three cars in the lot at the time of the accident
  • one student whose initials are DS sideswiped the driver side of the car two days after he got his license.
  • Finally there is the Missions & Outreach Pastor who backed into my car as he was getting out of his own driveway. Way to go John!
  • The car was blue when I got it. Now it is pale with shades of light blue and grey due to the Texas heat.

May the legend continue and hopefully reach 300,000 miles!





4 responses

24 08 2009

Quite a history. And they talk about Asian drivers…

26 08 2009

Great post, Ray. *tender moment of silence for the rice rocket*

It consequently raises the age-old question: “Will there be Asian made cars in heaven?” You don’t have to post your answer. I know.

I know. *wink*

26 08 2009
ray tang

that’s a silly question to ask. i don’t know god’s will for cars, but by the looks of the ‘cash for clunkers’ sale, it looks like the last shall be first. american gas guzzlers than hondas

1 09 2009
Patty Kashiwamura

my parents are driving the 1995 Honda Accord with 200,000 miles plus that I helped Ken Gong by in 1995. Still going strong!

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