Durango's Beloved Beaters

Morgan Smith and Sienna Reese

Thursday, January 18, 2024 | Number of views (2759)

Whether cars are used to get to the slopes, back home or simply the grocery store, some Fort Lewis College students see their vehicle as the connection they have to the world outside of campus. 

Take a look into the tales of five FLC students and their beloved beaters, to see the trust, love and tears that are put into owning an old car. 




Molly Quinn-Clynes, a third-year history and education major at Fort Lewis College leans on her 1999 Jeep Wrangler. Named Emmett, this adventurous car is a reflection of its owner, Quinn-Clynes said. From backcountry traveling to camping and ski trips, they have navigated their fair share of dirt roads together, she said. 

“It’s pretty simple, it barely runs, it’s really fun!” Quinn-Clynes said. “It’s all I need to get around.”

Emmett’s job as a snowplow car was over when Quinn-Clynes needed a car for school, she said. The rattling, the leaking oil, the blinkers that have a life of their own and the stalling at stop signs was all inconsequential in her eyes, Quinn-Clynes said. 

“There’s all sorts of small issues but it still runs,” she said. “It suits my needs in a lot of ways.”


Quinn-Clynes said this Jeep has lived a vibrant life during their time together. It has personality, and the impact a quirky car like Emmett has is spread far and wide, she said. “We take the top off in the summer,”Quinn-Clynes said.“I’ve fit up to ten people in here.”



Sam Hill, a third-year engineering major at FLC, lays on his 2002 Chevy Tahoe. Hill’s family has known this car since it was fresh off the lot - it brought him to his first day of kindergarten and to his high school graduation, he said. 

“I grew up in this car,” Hill said. 



Since then he said he’s made some alterations - including the statement antlers fastened to the grill. 

“Some guy at the flea market just really wanted to sell me them for like five bucks,” he said.

This family-turned-college car has been well loved for 21 long years, Hill said. Many vital parts had to be replaced over time, and Hill found himself playing mechanic once again rather than selling it when it broke down this summer - but his hard work paid off, he said. 

“It has over 250,000 miles, and it’s still going strong,” he said. 

This Tahoe is well equipped for all of his needs, Hill said. Armed with this bike rack, a roomy interior and ski resort stickers, there’s nothing it can’t do - except go over 50mph with the anti-lock braking system still intact, he said. 

“I’ve jumped it a few times on dirt roads,” Hill said. 



Alec Carr, a third-year criminal justice major at FLC, stands with his 1994 Honda Accord LX. Affectionately named Trap Wagon, this car showed up in Carr’s life when he needed it the most - in pieces, he said. He said that he rebuilt it from scratch and marvels about how well the motor still works. 

“It’s interesting because my friends– they hate this car–but random people really like it!” he said. 

Despite what the rough exterior may lead people to believe, the Trap Wagon currently doesn’t need much to keep chugging, Carr said. With only 138,000 miles, the engine is old but functioning perfectly, he said. Equipped with a mid-pipe exhaust and an impressive subwoofer, Carr said it’s the best of both worlds. 

“I can hear my motor, I can hear my music - that’s all I need,” Carr said. 

Faded but visible, the Trap Wagon’s namesake is etched in the door for all to see. This Honda has survived a 50mph hit and run to the trunk, three paint jobs and lots of backroad drifting under Carr’s ownership, he said.

 “This is my car,” Carr said.“I love it and I don’t give a sh– what people think.” 



Simon Gallagher, a third-year marketing major at FLC, stands with his 1989 Toyota 4Runner. Named Delilah, this Toyota has been with him for 4 years and counting, Gallagher said. Delilah has certainly earned Gallagher’s trust with her dependability and resilience through their many adventures, he said. 

“I’d take this thing anywhere,” Gallagher said. “I’d be comfortable driving it across the country right now.” 

Delilah had been abandoned for 11 years before he found her and fixed her up, Gallagher said. Currently he said has no complaints about the way she runs. 

“I’ve gone over 90 mph but it doesn't feel like it should be doing 90 mph,” Gallagher said. “But besides going fast it’ll do anything.”






Gallagher and Delilah have been all over - he even took her out of the country, he said. He recounts the crazy narrow roads of Baja, Mexico, how there was barely enough room for the car to fit between a rock face and a treacherous drop off. 

“We looked down over the side and there’s two trucks 100 feet down in the ravine - but this thing was just creeping and crawling along,” Gallagher said.



Desiree Pineda, a second-year sociology major at FLC, with her 2002 Saab 9-3 Convertible. More fondly referred to as Summer the Saab, Pineda has been locked out of her car since September, she said. She reminisces on the days she could cruise around, top down with the freedom to go anywhere, she said. 

“I do feel connected to my car,” Pineda said. “I feel like she takes care of me and I take care of her.” 

Lots of activity has been happening around Summer since she’s remained stagnant in the Animas parking lot, Pineda said. Since losing the key, Summer has endured significant cosmetic damage, Pineda said. 

“The bumper is falling off and the front headlight is missing from two separate hit and runs,” Pineda said. 

Despite the predicament Pineda and Summer find themselves in, she continues to remain optimistic, she said. Pineda speaks about the last time Summer was stationary - when the starter went out. Pineda and her friend would go hang out in the dead car and talk about how excited they were to cruise around, she said. 

“I’m really happy with my car,” Pineda said. “I just need to find my key.”

Update: She found it!


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