Why the most boring sedan in the world, was the most fun car for me
A little story involving my dad's old Nissan Altima
There have been many oh so many cars in my life that mean a lot to me, from my first car, my Volkswagen Classic Beetle, my previous daily driver, the Mexican Chevy 2010, and my current car, my yellow Mustang GT from 2006, all of them have been so special for many diferent reasons, the main one probably being the fact that I drove them on different phases of my life, the VW was my car when I moved out of my parents home, the Chevy was my daily driver living away and the car I put the most miles on, and the Mustang was sort of a symbol conmemorating me leaving that first job and moving back home.
However the one I haven't discussed so far is one that I dearly cherished so much years ago, the first car I extensively drove: My dad's Nissan Altima from 2000. It was gray but looked somehow brown, and it was the typical grandpa sedan, colorless, bland design and little to no noise coming from the exhaust. It checked all the boxes on most generic car of all time. But driving it, was a different story.
The car felt a lot lighter than it appeared, the little 4 cylinder engine made a little over 120HP but was enough to make the car feel quick and nimble, I mean for a compact executive sedan of course. The car was top of the line in 2000, meaning it had everything from CD player, to even a sunroof. My dad bought it with a reasonable 60,000 miles and it was the sweet spot, although the car had been driven, it had also been taken care of in a way not many owners do, whoever had owned this car, they loved it as much as you possibly can love a car.
The car was a daily driver all the time my dad had it, meaning it had a rough life, but nevertheless it persisted. Whatever incident you could think of happened to it while my dad daily drove it, it had a mirror smashed in traffic by a biker, it had its rear bumper pulled of by a semi truck driver on a fateful night, but it survived throught it all, never really showing any signs of being tired, the car was reliable in a way I've seen only on a few cars.
Then of course was my turn to drive it, this car my dad owned it while I was studying in college so of course I drove it more than plenty, once a week, on Fridays, my dad would leave me drive it to and from school, and I had an absolute blast those days, I remember even on a very particular Friday, I arrived at school almost an hour early, and just only 5 minutes after I had arrived, suddenly I remembered I had forgotten my homework at home so I had to rush back to get it, however because I didn't precisely had a parking permit to the school parking lot, I had to leave it roughly half a mile away from the school entrance on a residential area that was very quiet and safe. I ran that half mile like I was competing for a gold medal and barely made it to the car without passing out; I must admit, being into exercise has never been my thing; drove like a maniac all the way to my house which was 20 minutes away, speeding through speedbumps, cutting off every driver in my path, ran to my room for my homework and did every step of that odyssey back to the school in less than 45 minutes, a hell of a drive but still managed to deliver my homework in time.
The car was fun to drive, specially to a kid that had little experience behind the wheel, which I think was the reason I loved that car so much, the car also helped me in a very life defining moment to me, moving out of my parents house.
I got my first job literally a couple of weeks after I finished my classes on college, and although that job helped kickstart my professional life as an engineer, it had nothing to do with cars and the main life goal I had set to myself before I started college, which of course was and is: to make my professional life revolve in any way to cars and the profound love I have for them.
So that first job I was very reluctant at first to embrace it and the changes it made on my life, which is why I hesistated the first 6 months to move into the city this job was, and that of course meant a 40 mile daily commute and waking up at 4:30am just to make it on time. Eventually I gave in and moved out of my parents house to really start living like an independent adult; who spends all of his money on HotWheels; and also to make my life easier since the commute now instead of being an hour and a half was reduced to 8 minutes from the house we rented to the workplace.
And the car that I drove the first weeks I lived there was of course the Nissan Altima.
If I already had deep feelings for this car, the couple of weeks I drove it daily just made me fall in love with this little executive sedan, the comfortable ride was nice for the hellish potholes this town had, the commute was easy and the ride height meant speedbumps the size of mountains were barely manageable but still doable on this 18 year old car.
Nissan Altima 2000 GLE
Driving on the highway was the most relaxing thing on this car, no noise coming from outside, the comfortable leather seats; even though the driver seat was stuck all the way to the back making it barely reachable by my feet; the car just was the ultimate daily driver you could buy for less than 2000 dollars.
After we were done with it the car had over 160,000 miles which for some of you may seem little, but those miles were just 5 years of memories of that little sedan, either my dad's or mine, even though my dad is a middle aged man, he'd still drive the car like a teenager, admitting to slide it with the handbrake constantly on the parking lot he used to leave it on a daily basis.
Parting ways with cars is different for all of us, sometimes is a relief, sometimes is a painful and reluctant goodbye, and with this car was a little of everything, when my father sold it, the car was in decent shape, but the major services and repairs were most likely around the corner, so in that was it was a relief, but all those memories and good times had in that car, were pretty hard to let go.
Last thing I knew about this car it still was being daily driven, which is a good thing, it's being enjoyed and I hope taken care of as well as it had been before, and it is a nice reminder of the bulletproof reliability cars had on simpler days, which I assume is an era ending in the near future, as most used cars are newer models much more complex and not as easily repairable.
Any car is a good car to a learning driver, and even if they're not memorable cars on their own, like these bland looking sedans most of us don't precisely proudly look back, they're the unsung heroes that help make ordinary times, all the more better.