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.