At the ages of 24 and 31, we bought our first car.
A mite late in life, considering our American heritage. I can tell you the story behind the delay, if you're interested.
Neither one of us got our driver's licenses bright and early at 16. I was on the other side of the world in high school, so I took driver's training late, and ended up getting my license six months before I turned 18 (and after I'd already completed first semester of my freshman year at university. It's soooo cool to be a freshman without a driver's license, I can tell ya!). Angel didn't get his license till after he was 18 because of the immense cost of driver's training and adding a teenage driver to the family insurance plan--it just made better financial sense for him to wait on getting a license. He rode his bike to work in high school, instead.
Angel's dad is a highly skilled mechanic with a talent for finding broken down cars and getting them running again. He found a Neon with a burned-out engine in someone's backyard, bought it and installed a different engine, and gave that car to Angel when he moved out when we got married back in 2010. Angel loved that car, and was convinced he could keep it running forever. It ran incredibly loud--so loud that conversations inside the car were a little difficult, and so loud that sometimes people would look at the sporty little car in confusion and ask us if it was a diesel...but it ran!
I inherited my first car from my great-grandmother. It was a gorgeous blue Chevy from the mid-90s. I loved how sturdy and comfortable it was...and the fact that it was blue. I've always been partial to blue cars. It had a little bit of a rough couple of years under my ownership...there was a broken belt, an ice-induced slide-off, and two separate occasions when someone didn't look in the rear-view mirror when backing up in the driveway, and knocked two little dents in my safely parked car.
We had lots of interesting adventures with those two cars in our first few years of marriage. I have plenty of memories of sitting cross-legged on the driveway, chatting with Angel while he was under, on top of, or inside one or the other of the cars, replacing a strut or an alternator or an O2 sensor or something of the sort.
We found it pretty fun to rely on public transportation, but our new home's public transportation system is fairly spotty. Buses can't take you anywhere and everywhere, and we found ourselves in need of a car--to get to work, to the grocery store, and anywhere else life would take us.
This was a long-anticipated purchase. When we were in China, Angel browsed secondhand car listings and read reviews of different models. We wanted to put a lot of thought into the purchase because--seriously--this is the biggest purchase we have made thus far in our lives! That's a slightly scary thought. Our low-cost lifestyle in China (added to the fact that we spent the entire year not buying anything that was not absolutely necessary) allowed us to save up for this anticipated future expense.
Toyotas are Angel's dream cars, and while they're not cheap anywhere in the world, they tend to hold their value especially well and remain very expensive in this country. All imported cars are much more expensive than locally produced cars. When we were doing our research, we found that we could buy either a brand-new local car, or a 7+ year old Toyota of a similar style for about the same price. Because of the warranty on new cars, and the fact that repairs are more expensive on imported cars, we opted for the new, local car that was within our budget.
We combined our priorities: I wanted a small car, to make parking easier, and I wanted to pick out the color. Angel wanted a decent-sized engine, especially after test driving a car with a 1.0 liter engine. I would have picked blue if I could have, but this car didn't come in blue, so orange was our best option (I sure wouldn't want a 'normal' color like silver or gold).
Were you this excited when you purchased your first car? It feels like a pretty momentous event in the never-ending journey towards becoming continually more adult-ish.