It was late 1996 and I had graduated college and was working at my first full time job in Dallas. The love of my life, Shelley, still lived and worked in Oklahoma City so it was a bit tough being in a big city for the first time and being “alone”. I still had the 1983 280ZX and it was running like a top. I usually came back to Oklahoma on the weekends when there wasn’t something going on at work. One weekend in October I headed back home to Pauls Valley to meet up with Shelley at my Dad’s house for the weekend. After I was a little over halfway home I had a blowout and had to pull over to the shoulder on the Interstate to put on the spare. I continued on to Pauls Valley and met up with everyone.
I am having trouble recalling how the rest of this purchase happened (Shelley couldn’t help me any either) so I’ll need to talk to my Dad maybe to see if he can provide any more information. What I don’t recall is if I was searching for a particular 300ZX like a 2+2 or how it came about that I was even looking for a new car. I would guess that I just had the 3 year itch that I get and since I had graduated and had a job in a big city I was ready for the next phase of my automobile journey. What I do recall is going with Shelley in her 1991 Geo Storm to Bob Moore Infiniti in Edmond, OK (the same town where I now live and purchased my first car) and looking at this beautiful maroon (cherry red pearl metallic I think is what they called it) 300ZX 2+2 5 Speed. Shelley says she thinks that I was looking for a “bigger” car so that’s why I went with the 2+2 but I find that funny myself. I actually prefer the silhouette of the 2+2 to the standard coupe, I think the length makes it look sleeker but that’s just my opinion. The 2+2 obviously also gives you back seats that can be used if they need to be. Anyway, back to what I recall, so there we were in a car dealer’s lot talking to the sales guy (not my favorite thing to do) and there sat this 300ZX, everything about this car was awesome to me, it still had the new car smell, the black leather, the looks and speed; it had it all. I knew what came next.
There was no doubt about it, I had to buy the 300ZX but they told me that I would need a co-signer to get the loan that was required. My Dad was probably the only person who would qualify for that honor but he was an hour away in Pauls Valley. They allowed me to take the car to my Dad’s house to talk over the purchase/co-signing situation as well as to show it to him. I can’t remember exactly how it all went down, but Dad probably tried to be the voice of reason and make sure I wasn’t getting in over my head but he also agreed to co-sign without much of a fight. I had the paperwork with me and he signed it so Shelley and I were on our way back to the car dealer to finalize the deal. I drove my 280 and she drove the 300, I remember this part vividly… She was following me on the interstate and it seems like maybe it was overcast or misting or something but she had the fog lights on. When I saw the front end of that 300 in my rear view with the stance, the lights and everything cruising down the highway, I knew I was making the right decision, this thing was mean looking but in a classy way.
When we finalized the deal and my 280ZX was there next to the 300ZX looking neglected with its tiny spare tire I felt bad but the 300 went a long way in erasing those feelings. I had never had a car that nice and I’m not sure I’ve had one that nice since. I ended up moving back to Oklahoma City the next year and Shelley and I got married the year after that and had our first son. When I moved back to Oklahoma I took a job for less pay than Dallas and now that I was a family man the 300ZX, though I still loved everything about it, took a back seat. I sold it in the summer of 1999 and have regretted doing that ever since. I’ve had a few cool cars since then, a 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo and a 1999 BMW M3 but I think I still liked the Z better, if for no other reason than I consider myself a Z lifer who has strayed.
This brings us to now, I am almost 40 and it’s time for me to get another Z. I’ve been in the market for a couple of months searching and I plan to update my progress on this site…
I sold my first Z car in 1990 if I remember correctly. After that I went through a phase in my personal and college life which is a story meant for another blog so we’ll skip to 1993. I had started to get my life back on track and after a stupid vehicle purchase (198X? Fiat X19) I decided it was time to search for another solid car. The hardships that I briefly mentioned above ended with that Fiat getting repossessed by the bank so I was no longer in a situation where I could get a loan for a car from them. I was still working with my Dad in the roofing business, my older cousin Brent was a partner of my Dad’s in this business and we got along pretty well. My cousin always seemed to have some sort of blind faith in me for which I am forever grateful, he agreed to give me a loan for my next car and so the search was on.
I located a 1983 280ZX in Dallas which was a couple of hours south of my hometown (Pauls Valley, OK). I don’t recall how it was that I found this car but in 1993 there was no craigslist, ebay or cars.com to help with nationwide searches so it must have been in the Dallas Morning News classifieds. Brent and I headed off to Dallas on a Saturday morning to check over this car. The car was at a dealer and I remember it was in excellent condition so I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it, the rest of the talk was between my cousin and the dealer so I don’t recall much else about getting the deal done. I remember taking it on a test drive and Brent telling me to make sure not to rest my clutch foot on the clutch since it will lead to premature clutch wear. I’m sure my Dad had also told me that years before while training to drive a 5 speed in the 1980 Datsun Pickup but for some reason that is one of the things I recall vividly about the purchase of this car. We made the decision to move forward with buying the car so Brent cut them a check and we were on our way.
Brent and I set up a payment plan and he printed out an amortization sheet to help me keep track of payments. This experience was about far more than buying a car, it was the start of me getting back on my feet again. I’ll always have fond memories of that car, it was reliable, sporty and led me through a very trying part of my life through to the other side. I paid Brent back on schedule and kept the car until October 1996 when I traded it in on my next Z…
It was the Summer of 1988 and I was 17 years old. I was working during the Spring and Summer with my Dad in the family roofing business so I had saved up a little money and decided that I wanted to buy a car. I had been driving my Dad’s yellow 1980 Datsun King Cab pickup up until that point and really had no complaints about the reliability and efficiency this truck possessed. I was 17 years old however, so this meant the “yellow Ferrari”, as we lovingly called it, wasn’t quite stylish enough for the persona that I needed to create (not to mention I had been a sports car buff ever since I had seen The Cannonball Run in the early 80s).
My Dad agreed to help me find a car and co-sign on a loan if needed so the search was on. I can’t recall exactly why I started focusing on Z cars during my search but it probably had something to do with the fact that we had a Datsun already and it was hard to find a better car for the money than a 280Z or ZX. We located a 280ZX (in the Bargain Post) a little more than an hour away so we scheduled a trip on a Saturday to go check it out. When we arrived the owner met us with it in a grocery store parking lot and we checked it out, we knew right away that it had been misrepresented as being in “Excellent” condition but continued to give it the benefit of the doubt. The interior was pretty ragged out and it had this horrendous pin striping and probably a few other things that I don’t recall. We decided to pass on this car and felt that we had wasted a trip to “The City”.
As we were leaving we noticed a white 280ZX in a parking lot next to the grocery store. To our surprise it had a For Sale sign in the window so we proceeded to call the number listed. The owner was at work a block or two away and couldn’t leave to meet us but he had his wife (in her bath robe!) come and show it to us. We both knew this was the one, it was in excellent condition and there had to be some fate at play for us to find it the way that we did. It was a little more than I had planned on spending but if paying that little more meant that I got a car in that condition vs. the other one we saw then it was a no-brainer for me. We decided to make the purchase and went to pay the owner. I cut him a check from my checking account (backed by a loan from the bank) and we were on our way home. I will never forget that long drive back home in the first car that was my very own.
I ended up becoming desperate for cash a few years later while in college and sold the car, a move I’ve mentally kicked myself for more than once since then but life goes on. I now live in the town where we purchased the car and I drive past that old grocery store parking lot quite a bit. I’m always reminded of that fateful day when I became a car owner for the first time and a Z car fanatic.