It was a cold winter in the year 2000. I was a rye 13 year old and my Mom’s minivan was due to be replaced. I knew only one thing about the car that replaced it: It was nice. Very nice. A lot nicer than a mini-van at least. My mother had become the newest owner of a demonstration model 1998 C230 Kompressor. I fell in love with the Mercedes Benz family of cars. I was done.
The years passed and every day I got closer to 16 I looked forward to driving that car. It never happened though. I turned 16 in November of 2003 and was signed up for Driver’s Ed over the Christmas Break. I was so close! Mid December My sister and I were making a trip to the mall to pick up a few Christmas Presents, sadly the C230 didn’t make it. An unmarked crater in the middle of a road due to construction and full of snow was the downfall of my Mom’s glorious W202 Benz. I still remember the awful noise entering and exiting the giant pot hole. We didn’t know it at the time but we were also growing more familiar with the sound of an engine losing all of its oil. The giant pot hole ripped the oil pan off of the car. The engine seized up and the car written off. I was devastated.
Oh, but that meant you got to test out newer Mercedes and learn the art of driving on them, right? I’m afraid not.
For the time being we settled with my sister’s 2002 Honda Civic until a more financially suitable option was available. I was a little unhappy to learn on such a generic car, but it wasn’t all that bad. It was a good learning car.
Eventually my sister needed her car back and it was time for a new vehicle. This time another C230 Kompressor, a 2004 model, W203 Chassis. A very pretty model. Finally! I got my shot behind the wheel of a Mercedes. I fell in love.
The whine of the Supercharger, the rush of hitting the kick down button pulling away from a vehicle in the slow lame, the novelty of changing the CD Track from the steering wheel! It was great!
I managed to discover one major design flaw in it. Don’t try driving through any section of road that’s flooded higher than 10 inches with water. It will End In Tears. I thank God that that car had an automatic transmission. I had just enough momentum to get the car through the water and into the dry before the engine was seized by water in the First and Fourth cylinders. The Irony is that the purpose of the trip was to take the car to the dealership anyway and get the brakes looked at. Boy were they surprised to see it arriving on a flat bed.
A new engine and a couple years later and that car was finally replaced with a C280 4matic. It is currently my mom’s car and is still working in great condition.
In January of 2008 in was my turn to get my own car. The boy racer in me was in love with the Mitsubishi Evolution X, but the finance wizard (AKA Mom) vanquished this dream to a realm of impossibility. I had only one requirement. No Front Wheel Drive. When comparing my sister’s civic to my mother’s C230 and C280 I knew that FWD was in no way as much fun, or fulfilling, to drive as the RWD and AWD examples.
With that requirement in mind I started looking at used car ads.
I’ll disclose at this point that I was only looking at Automatic Transmissions as I had no experience with Manuals. Searching through the used cars inventory at the local Mercedes dealership (I was perhaps looking there for a reason) I stumbled upon a 2004 BMW 325i of all vehicles. Took it for a test drive, but wasn’t impressed.
Then I saw her.
I fell in love. It was truly a case of the car choosing the buyer.
One problem: Six Speed Manual Transmission
I didn’t care. I made my Mom take it out for a drive for me. She said it seemed alright, I know she had no clue, but I believed her.
That was Monday, I told the Sales Man that I would think about it and went home.
Wednesday my Mother took a phone call and afterward told me that my car would be ready to be picked up on Friday. She has a tendency to do that sort of thing, moving on a deal without my input. I was ok with that though, as she agreed to pay half over the course of the lease, a quarter over the lifetime of the car.
Friday, I went to pick her up and sign the paperwork. Then….my Mom drove her home.
I still couldn’t drive a Manual Transmission at that point.
That night I got a good friend to take me out to an empty parking lot and show me the ropes. I drove myself home from the lot. It was exhilarating. The way the gas pedal felt so responsive, the strange experience of depressing the clutch and swapping the cogs. I was anxious as well. What if I stall in traffic, how am I supposed to do this on a hill? I was a mess.
A few months of practice and I was doing just fine. A year and 5 months later I’m no professional when it comes to a stick shift, but I am much better and I feel a deep connection with my car.
Then I did the normal thing for a 20 year old male. I bought some after market wheels! I wanted my car to stand out amongst the daily drivers of moms and trophy wives.
And that’s the story of how I got my first, and current, car. We haven’t had any crazy adventures yet, but we most certainly will. She’s been nothing but great to me, even after that time I scraped against a concrete pillar in my parking garage.
Since writing this I’ve actually moved on up into a 2011 C300. Still Black. Still 6 speed manual. Still the love of my life.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my unhealthy fascination and love of the automobile.
“Whenever we watch BBC America’s Top Gear America http://bit.ly/TopGr, we can’t help thinking back to our first car. What was your first car like—comfy, clunky, super-deluxe? Tell your story and you could win a trip to London from BBC America. Click here to enter: http://bit.ly/TGr1Car”—
“First car, eh? Oh well, it was bound to come out sooner or later. A Cosworth. No, not an F1 car…a Chevrolet VEGA Cosworth. There, I said it. I’m GLAD I said it. I feel as though a great burden has been lifted. Ahhh.”—