It’s Ok to Dream Big, Especially After You’ve Paid Your Dues.
I’d driven mom cars for years- a safe, nondescript family sedan, a minivan, and a full-size SUV. With four kids, who could even consider anything else? It was time: I wanted a new car.
Wanted, not needed. How could I even really buy that dream car, the one I’d daydreamed about. I could picture the wind blowing in my hair, a smile on my face, cruising down Pacific Coast Highway….and making a new hefty payment…ouch. But I was in awe of the new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Such a beautiful beast (sigh).
I did my time. I loved my “mom” cars over the years, the ones that held my multiple car seats, the cars where I’d scream threats demanding that my kids leave each other alone (at stoplights only, of course) and better yet, the cars that were so big, the kids couldn’t even reach other!
Now that our kids are older I started to feel the itch to drive something a little younger and adventurous. Something distinctly non-sensible. Something beautiful, sexy, fast, racy and on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Memoirs of a Taxi Mama
Oh, the taxi mom days! The memories are fresh. The time one kid got out of his car seat and launched it towards the front of the car. The day my older daughter thought it was funny to lock the doors when I got gas and not let me back in (because the regular old-style key was on the console). The time my older son got extremely car sick and threw up his lunch….fruit salad with halved-grapes, no less…all over the back seat of the van, the week after we bought it.
Goodbye Crazy Mama, Hello Cool Mama
No car seats, no messes. No more kiddie tunes or need for extra cargo space. The kids are grown, I deserved a new ride. I wanted a car that was mine. I wanted one that was known for its zero-to-sixty speed. I wanted one that came with multiple engine sizes so I could buy THE FASTEST ONE. I wanted one that graced the cover of muscle car magazines.
I wanted the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
I knew the Challenger Hellcat was entirely impractical for my use of sitting on California freeways driving to events for business. I knew it was more than a typical car. And I knew it was beyond what I needed for any reason, but man if it wasn’t gorgeous.
Then one day, the hubs and I were driving to a media event in Los Angeles. It was raining hard, and we were driving his four-door sedan. It had seen a lot of miles but was a sturdy, reliable car. It had some issues from a previous accident and had been technically totaled by the insurance company, even after they’d done some work, but we were running it until the end.
But the rain happened, and as we made a semi-spontaneous left into a covered parking lot, the brakes failed. We skidded through the intersection, up and over a curb and into a couple of poles and a power transformer. Thankfully, we were okay, but the front axle was broken on both sides…and that was only part of the problem. AAA showed up quickly, took that car away and I never saw it again. If only I had taken a picture…
We knew we had a big decision to make but we waited a few days. I wanted that Hellcat, but it wasn’t my car that had been totaled. Wishfully thinking, I dropped a few hints, and the following weekend, we went car shopping. Being the mom who loads up the car and gets the spot in the garage, and the husband commutes back and forth to work regularly, where the car sits outside, that would have to change….or the new car would get the garage.
So guess who got the new car? ME. Somebody pinch me!
I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really expect a Dodge Challenger Hellcat- they aren’t just expensive, they’re hard to find in Southern California. So we gave our favorite Dodge dealership a chance to help us.
The dreaded “we don’t have any Hellcats” happened, and as we wandered the lot staring at the various models they did have, deciding if one of them would catch our eye. Then we heard a rumble. Not just any rumble, but the rumble that only a Dodge Challenger 392 makes. Our salesman turned the corner, pulling a shiny, glittery vehicle into the sun. It was like the heavens opened up… and there it was, a gorgeous black, shiny pearl coat 392 SRT8 Challenger, automatic, fully-loaded and containing way more than I’d ever need in a car. That rumble resulted in a test drive on the freeway, putting it through its paces, pretending it was already mine. It wasn’t the Hellcat that I’d been looking for….but with a 6.4L engine and all the amenities, it may just be better.
Two hours later, it was all mine.
There were a few things we’d done to make it easier. We knew what the car was worth, due to a lot of research, and we also knew our financials. We had a healthy down payment ready and an idea of what monthly payment we wanted.
We also knew our credit score. Check a reputable site like Credit Karma before you start making any major purchase. Knowing your score is a powerful negotiating tool. When the salesman quoted us a price, we knew that we could ask for a lower interest rate. Getting a loan wouldn’t be difficult, so we didn’t have to spend hours on “let me ask my manager” tactics, and we knew if they tried to price the car too high, we’d find a better deal elsewhere, even if we had to wait.
That’s the hardest part of the process — being willing to get up and walk away if the deal doesn’t go as it should!
Luckily, the dealership manager, who did end up getting involved because we required a low-interest rate, didn’t mess with us too much. He didn’t tell us that he’d run our credit three times, so we learned a valuable lesson: ask the number of times they put a hard check on your credit. It took two years for that to drop off our reports. (The more hard checks on your report, the lower your overall score will be.)
Buying my dream car was a big moment. Everyone does it for their own reason, but for me, it marked the time between being a mom of young kids and being the mom of kids who didn’t need me to chauffeur them everywhere several times a day. Having that dream car in my driveway still makes me excited when I open the door into the garage.
Can you guess what I named my new Challenger? BEAST.
Any car can be your dream car. Go and buy that dream car. It can be a minivan, SUV, sedan, muscle car, truck, convertible…it’s all about what you define as dreamy. Why you buy it is entirely personal to your life, but for me, it was the end of one part of my life and my entrance into another. When my son goes to prom? “Mom, can you take us in your car?” When I drop it at a valet service, it usually ends up near the booth with the valet drivers admiring and watching over it. I even cringe less knowing I am the designated driver.
I’m not big on materialism, but something about my dream car just makes me smile. It’s the sign of reaching a goal. Traffic doesn’t get me as frustrated as it used to, either. I turn on that seat warmer, turn up the music, or use my hands-free uConnect to chat on the phone. Driving the sports car of my dreams gives me a whole new perspective. I also invest money along the way to modify it, a very common thing amongst Challenger owners. Those beautiful red stripes? I had them re-done in a sparkling burgundy.
My dream car may cost me more than I’d like for a brake job, and I need to put the better gas in it, but life is short. I wanted to enjoy cruising Pacific Coast Highway in my dream car, sunroof open, and now that’s a reality. (So is the payment, but with a good loan package.) I smile, get in the car, put it into drive, and hit the road. Life is good.