I’ve owned three cars in my entire lifetime. Each purchase is an unforgettable memory. Not that anything spectacular happened. It’s just they were the major purchases in my 20s, 30s and 50s.

My first car was a 1979 Cutlass Supreme, two-tone green with the newest innovation of the time: 60-40 front seat. For you younger people and those who have forgotten, the front seat for the driver and the passenger was normally one seat. So if the driver was short, and they pulled the car seat all the way forward, taller passengers had to suffer their knees against the dashboard. Three people could also sit in the front. The person in the middle would have to put their legs off to the side because of the hump in the floor that ran down the middle. With that car, the driver got 40 percent of the seat and passengers got 60 percent. I could still fit three people in the front, although the middle person was normally a smaller person. That car lasted me until 1990 when it finally gave out.

In 1990, I bought my second car: a Toyota Camry. It was silvery-gray with a black fabric top. The car mimicked the way a convertible would look with the top up. That car came with the newest amenities of the time. Front bucket seats and a cassette player! It had four doors and the back seats could fold down so that it could hold additional stuff. I used that feature a number of times to haul things to my house. 

My favorite memory is purchasing a marble double sink top for the bathroom from the Habitat Restore in Waukegan. The worker help me load the 6-foot-long top into the back of my car. I started down the Edens toward Chicago. I had successfully completed two prior stops. When the light went green, I slowly pulled forward and the momentum caused the sink to slide out the back. I still remember the embarrassment of having to pull my car over and pick up the broken pieces and place them on the side of the road. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing. That sink top was a deep navy blue. I had planned on a blue and white bathroom. Now that I look back on it, I don’t think I would have liked that bathroom today.

In 2003, I bought a Montero Sport SUV. It had the power of a truck, roomy cargo space in the back, and rear seats that also leaned down to create more room. It had the popular amenity of a CD player and luggage racks on top. I have hauled so much stuff using that vehicle that I can’t even begin to count the number of times.

Over 230,000 miles later, that SUV has served me well. She is also on her last legs. 

As I search for a new car, the method of doing so has changed completely. From the comfort of my home and using a smartphone, I have been able to find vehicles, see the Carfax report, and do everything but test-drive them. As I view all the new amenities that are available since I last bought a car, there are things I am not even familiar with. From the fob with the push button start to cars that literally talk to you on the screen, the upgrades are astounding and it is an overwhelming decision to make.