Every town has a restaurant that is universally adored. The locals love it, the visitors love it, and it gets rave reviews overall. For Columbus, that restaurant is Condado Tacos, a fast-casual build-your-own taco joint popular with old and young. The problem is that I hate Condados. It didn’t live up to the hype or my expectations, and I decided it’s not for me. It is in this same manner that I realized my manual 1993 Honda Accord wagon was just like Condados.
Condados started with one location in Columbus, and now it’s a much-loved franchise with locations all over the midwest. My friends have dragged me there, and I’ve watched them happily chow down on queso fundido fries as I sat on the side and picked at my weirdly sweet brisket taco. I smiled politely as they raved along with the rest of the city, extolling the virtues of $6 tacos topped with ice-cold queso fresco. Everyone loves Condados, and I’ve repeatedly been told I should love Condados, too, yet I don’t.
My Condados hate wasn’t immediate. I love tacos, both Americanized and authentic Mexican ones too. The restaurant’s menu featured things I like, such as cotija or Monterey jack cheese, freshly roasted brisket, sauteed veggies, all good stuff. The first time I ordered, I got tacos with all the fixings that I like, with brisket, cheese, sour cream, and veggies. There’s almost no way to screw it up, but my order was gross. Everyone else’s order was a little off, too, so I figured the cooking staff might have had an off day and decided I should try again at a different time. The second and third tries netted the same results and the same disgust for the food, even after trying the waiter’s recommendations.
The same feelings I have about Condados goes for the Accord Wagon I recently bought and sold. I had my heart set to fall in love with it, it should have tasted good, all the elements were there, and yet, I didn’t really like it. So, I got rid of it.
Originally, I was super excited to get the Accord. It had all the components of things I like. It’s a weird station wagon with a manual transmission and it’s kind of overlooked on the car enthusiast scene. Who the hell specced a manual transmission station wagon with every single option? How often does one expect to find a low-mile Accord manual Wagon in that shape? I figured I had hit the jackpot of Weird Car Twitter, and I was ready to bask in the attention my weird wagon would get. I had visions of corner-carving in my stealthy beige ‘90s grocery getter. The Accord was not a flip, it was a new car for me to have, to cherish, to drive.
Before I could enjoy ownership, however, there were a few things to fix. I was too busy with the other cars in my fleet, so I paid someone to replace the clutch and throw a set of pads and rotors on it. My mechanic was adamant that the Accord’s repairs were harder than he expected. Rockauto sent me incorrect parts, and the car was rustier underneath than either of us realized. Still, he got everything done and gave the keys back to me.
I was ready to take the wagon on its maiden voyage. It had new brakes, a new clutch, and only 95,000 miles. I was beside myself, as Weird Car Twitter was on my side, my roommate was jealous I bought it and he didn’t, and all my Honda-loving friends were rooting for the wagon.
To my serious disappointment, the drive home was boring. Growing up with Car and Driver, I had read the accolades heaped on ‘90’s Honda products, the Accord in particular. Hondas were “front-wheel-drive BMW’s”, with “snick-snick” or “bolt-action rifle” shifters, and taut and accurate steering. Car and Driver loved the engines you had to rev out to make power, the straightforward and well-made interior, and the conservatively classy styling.
I didn’t notice any of those things. My accord didn’t feel eager to rev, it felt slow and unremarkable. The shifter didn’t feel “bolt-action,” but too light, akin to a shifter you’d find on a Daytona USA video game cabinet. The steering was fine, but I didn’t think the hydraulic system had any more feel than the dozens of electric power steering systems I had driven prior. The interior and styling were fine, but they didn’t really move me.
I kept smiling and thinking, “well, let me get a wheel alignment, maybe things will change for the better.” It didn’t. I was still bored and uninterested in the Accord, yet everyone who I let drive the Accord loved it. The alignment technician asked me how much I’d sell it for, and friends remarked at how jealous they were. In slack, my coworkers at Car Autance and The Drive would ask how the Accord was, stoked that I had gotten a hold of such a rare and cool car. There had to be something about the Accord that I wasn’t getting, just like how I felt about Condados, which I continued to try each time my friends went for a full year. I still don’t like it, but Maybe the Accord was different, and I just needed to put more miles on it.
For about a week, I drove the Accord more by using it as my daily driver. I still never fell in love with it, but everyone else loved the thing. They loved driving it, they loved everything about it, I just didn’t.
The Accord isn’t a bad car, it’s just not my taste. There’s nothing wrong with me, and my ambivalence toward what should have been a cool car doesn’t mean I dislike cars or have bad taste. It’s just not for me.
And that’s endemic to the whole industry, right? At the end of the day, cars are products that have owners and buyers that expect certain things out of them. They have clientele that may like a certain way a car handles or drives, but that feeling isn’t universal. Chris Harris famously does not like Mazda Miatas. Does that mean that all Miata drivers have conned themselves into liking a bad vehicle? No, it just means that Chris Harris doesn’t like the Mazda Miata. I didn’t like the Accord wagon.
I let the Accord wagon go to someone I knew who wanted it, my friend Andreas. Andreas is a Honda guy who owns the community Acura Legend, and he has a rusty CRX. He wanted the Accord Wagon before I did, but at the time he was more than 1200 miles away. He loves Hondas, so I sold it to him.
I expected the Accord to be some sort of holy grail of online car enthusiasts, a brown manual transmission station wagon from the 1990s. Instead, I was bored, underwhelmed by a nearly 30-year-old family station wagon with less power than the average modern economy car. I wanted to like it, maybe if the Accord was a little smaller, or a little faster, I would have fallen in love and kept it. As it stood though, I’m glad to have given it a new home with someone who can truly appreciate it.