Your first car is usually some hand-me-down box of rust. In my case it was an ’84 Volvo 240 DL, the interior of which was immaculate but the exterior less so. Your second car, on the other hand, tends to be a more active decision. When I got word that a friend of a friend was selling a running ’90 Chevy S-10 for cheap, and I jumped.
I was still in high school. An older married couple I knew from church came with me to help me negotiate. The seller wanted $800 for the truck, which they bargained down to $700, in a time when $100 was basically a fortune to me. (This must have been around 2001.)
I handed over the money and drove it away. It served me better than I ever could have hoped, through the rest of high school and all through college. The engine, an underpowered inline four-cylinder, never failed. I did my own maintenance because it was easy to do your own maintenance on ’90 S-10.
It had other benefits as well. When my friends asked me for rides, well, it’s too bad, I would say, my truck only seats two, someone else has to drive if we want to fit all five of us.
When you’re young, you move frequently, because any port in the storm will suffice. The S-10 was perfect for this. My few belongings would fit in the back, and off I would go to the next place, full of hope.
All of which is a long way of saying that I truly loved that old truck, even though it was painted white. And I have a half-assed theory that for all of our obsession with our first cars, the second one is the one that counts, though clearly I’m biased. What was your second car? Do you miss it?