"I'm getting my car on Tuesday!" I exclaimed to a co-worker one night several days ago. "It's a 1993 Nissan Sentra SE-R" (extra emphasis placed on the SE-R, as if that would help...) His response, an apprehensive "Nice?" probably gave it more credit than it deserved.
I reversed out of the driveway of the seller, who was $2000 richer than he was that morning. On the drive to the BMV, the seller explained the ins and outs of the car; the new parts he bought, how to drive it without destroying the competition clutch, how he and his friends would meet at Chipotle every weekend to race, etc... On the surface, the seller seemed like the kind of guy who you specifically wouldn't want to buy a car from (I'm fairly sure gang signs were flashed on the way to the title agency...) But as he enthusiastically explained how much he loved this car, I could tell he looked after it properly and knew what he was doing. After the paperwork was over with, I handed over the check, and assured him his car was in the hands of someone who would enjoy it as much as he did.
The drive home
The plan was to stop at the gas station down the block from the seller's house to fill up before making my way home. Still unfamiliar with the car, I backed out the the driveway with some difficulty, and made my way to the intersection. Arriving at the stop sign however, I started smelling something burning and began to see smoke coming from some unknown source. "Just my luck", I thought, "Two minutes in and it's already fucked". I pulled up to the pump, frustrated and nervous, and instantly figured out what was wrong. I went to pull the handbrake, and realized it was on the whole time. That problem worked itself out quickly.
The drive home takes about 30 minutes via I-80. It took me an hour and a half, not because I was driving slowly, but because I took the long, long way home. I made my way down empty country roads, some twisty parkways, and something I would experience much more frequently: mall traffic. Compared to the other cars I had driven regularly, a Jetta and a Fit, the Sentra is so much more visceral. It rattles and shakes (quite a bit), it torque steers under hard throttle, and makes a terrifying symphony of noises which I prefer not to think about just yet. The unassisted steering takes some getting used to, and my foot is going to be sore from the ridiculously heavy clutch.
Finally arriving home, I can begin to make my first car truly mine. After a wash and a good interior vacuuming, I peel off the window tinting and the tuner stickers, and try my best removing 20 years worth of brake dust from the wheels. Small steps in the face of trying to return it to mostly original, I know, but necessary regardless. It is only then which I take a step back and feel a true sense of pride in my purchase. Sure, the paint is crap, the hood looks like crumpled tin foil, the clutch is heavy, the exhaust is too loud, the AC doesn't work, and there's a large hole where a grille should be, but it's my first car, which means it's perfect in every way.
I can tell that this is the start of a beautiful friendship...
Oh, and before you ask, the Oppo sticker is already on its way.