It is a day you’ll never forget. It is a day that you dreamt of day in and day out. And when that day finally arrived, it became one of the best days of your life. Even as you age, you will remember and be able to describe that very day in vivid detail.

The day you grab ahold of the keys to your first car is perhaps one of the greatest milestones of your life. Those car keys do more than just unlock and start your car. Those keys represent independence. Those keys represent freedom. Those keys represent one step closer to adulthood.

The story of my first car is quite unique in that I never expected it to happen the way it did.

You see, at 15 years old, with my driver’s permit, all I could ever think of, was what my first car would be when I eventually got my driver’s license. I would spend countless hours browsing sites like cars.com or Autotrader, trying to find the perfect first car. At that point, I already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted in a first car – It had to be a relatively fun to drive, reliable, Japanese vehicle that was different. I didn’t want your garden variety Toyota Corolla LE or Nissan Sentra S, but at the same time, I wasn’t looking for a flashy car to show off in. I simply wanted something just a little bit different than what everyone else had. I wanted a car that only true car enthusiasts would notice and give me a silent nod of approval or maybe thumbs up. Unfortunately, there was one blatant issue that I chose to ignore all together…. That issue, was my budget. It wasn’t that my budget wasn’t enough to buy the car I wanted, but that I had NO budget. I had no money to spend on a first car, nor would I be able to save up for one in a reasonable amount of time. Sure, I had a part time job, and an additional full-time summer job, but most of that money was used to either pay for car insurance or other expenses. Now, you may be wondering, “If you don’t have a car, why are you paying for car insurance”? I was paying for car insurance because I shared my mom’s Accord and although I was under her policy, I was responsible for paying the difference in which her premium increased. Which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was stupid expensive for a new driver.

It would always discourage me to think that, realistically, it would take me YEARS to ever be able to afford buying my own car. For this reason, I am very grateful for the situation that allowed me to have one.

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After working yet another closing shift at work, I was beat and ready to go home. I drove home that night, and as soon as I closed the front door and took my shoes off, my mom told me something that immediately shifted my mood. My mom told me that my cousin was trying to get rid of her car and they were wondering if I wanted it. I wouldn’t even have to pay for it, I could just simply take it off their hands! Now of course, I was jumping up and down inside my head and day dreaming of the places I’d go with a car, but on the outside, I tried to remain calm. Even though I knew I wanted the car, I was trying to think about it logically. I knew that the car had been in the family for quite some time, and I also knew that it wasn’t very well maintained, besides basic maintenance. I also didn’t even know what kind of condition the car was in, because I hadn’t been anywhere near the car in quite some time. Needless to say, I was pretty skeptical. After talking it out with my mom, I agreed to at least go look at the car.

So, the very next day, we drove out to my cousin’s house to see the car. Upon arriving, and seeing the car in the parking spot, it was just about what I expected. The car wasn’t immaculate, but it was all in one piece. No body damage (at least not yet…) or excessive rust. It just needed a REALLY good detail. We went inside and talked a little more about the car. At this point, part of me was still a little hesitant, but the fact that the car had new Michelin tires and no major mechanical issues, helped persuade me even more. Needless to say, I made the decision to go for it.

I now had my first car.

Getting into the car for the first time, I was quite literally shaking in excitement. I think that the feeling of excitement combined with the fear and uncertainty of being a first-time car owner really set in. While the interior had cracked dash, musty odor and some stains on the carpet, I really didn’t care. I finally had my very own car!

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I knew that going into this, the car would need some TLC.

Here are some pictures from the day after I got it.

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…And here it is after nearly two days of completely detailing the car! (Wash, Clay, Compound, Polish, Wax)

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The hood was probably the worst part about the car, but I made it look less obvious with touch up paint.

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Unfortunately for me, despite putting in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the car, someone just had to ruin it for me. In my senior year of high school, while my car was parked along a street near my school, it was hit. I came out to my car during my lunch period only to see a massive dent on the driver’s side. No note was left.

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About a week after that incident, I did get a letter from the insurance company of the person who hit my car. Took my car in, and sure enough, the car was totaled. Now of course, I did decide to keep the car. That was a no brainer. Although the car now looked terrible on one side, there was no sense in getting rid of a car that runs very well for the age and a car that I had poured so much time, effort and patience into. I knew I wasn’t going to get much for the car, but I will say that I was surprised with the amount that I did get for it. Since I couldn’t really buy a car with that amount of money, I decided to put it towards some much, MUCH needed maintenance.

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Fast forward several months, and I still have the car! Just under 193,000 miles now and I don’t have any plans to get rid of it anytime soon.... Well, we’ll see.