The first car I ever drove was a 1980 Buick Century. It was silver with a blue vinyl interior that stuck to your legs in the summer. There were bench seats and enough room to fit far more friends than was prudent. There was also a radio, AM only, with buttons that you had to physically push in to change stations. Sometimes those buttons stuck and if you pulled them out too hard, then they came out in your hand. My friends and I called this Buick the Silver Bullet, no idea why, and I loved that car.
This hand-me-down Buick from my parents was my freedom. It was my independence. It was my ticket to see the world. The Silver Bullet met its demise at the hands of some guy who ran a red light and t-boned me as I was on the way home from work one night when I was in college. He hit the car so hard that the dashboard bent in the middle. Despite none of the modern safety features we have now, my injuries were only a lovely set of bruises that matched the seatbelt that saved my life that night. As sad as I was to lose the Silver Bullet, its death was my first opportunity to buy a car all my own.
My new car was a shiny red Volkswagen Jetta GL and my love for this little bit of Fahrvergnügen was even greater than the love I had for the Silver Bullet. It was the car on which I learned how to drive a stick and, surprisingly, the Jetta survived the experience. I polished this car by hand and my heart broke a little at each ding and dent that appeared on that carefully polished surface.
I drive a lot of different cars these days as a part of my job. They are new and shiny and fancy and often priced well out of my range. I love the chance to drive all of these cars, but I still love the car parked in my driveway best. These days it’s a 2010 Dodge Charger with absolutely no bells and whistles because I couldn’t bear the thought of my young kids trashing a nice interior.
Every car I’ve owned has been my baby. People say that about their pets and I think that’s crazy because I’m not a pet person, but I say it about my car because I am a car person. Sure, that Buick Century was a Mom Car back in the day. It wasn’t fast, or sexy, or flashy, but it was my car and I loved it. Cars may have gotten better over the years and they sure as heck have gotten fancier, but nothing compares to the Silver Bullet. You never forget your first love.