For a decade, I had an extremely unique car. He made everyone smile. At least once a day, my Little Buddy the T-bird made at least one other person besides me happy, and sometimes many more. I loved him. He was faithful, loyal, and brave through 114,000 miles and a decade together. He had a powerful V-8 engine under his hood, and he was 252 horsepower-full of fun. He was a rare gem with white-and-black leather seats and a smooth-to-the-touch, ivory stick shift. He even got excellent gas mileage and immaculate emissions reports.
I have included a photo here of the original 1955 mint-green model, the very first Ford Thunderbird. My Little Buddy was made in this signature color: Only 50 in this color were in the 11th generation of T-birds, the last series, which was produced only from 2002-2005, and I had one of them. I saw another mint-green signature model from the same series only one time, up in L.A. at the corner of Sunset and Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills. I waved enthusiastically; he did not wave back. Snob, I thought. I had my Little Buddy, and he had me; we were not alone.
Sadly, my Little Buddy was struck down in his prime on March 2, 2014. He has been mourned and very much missed. I had hoped we would be together for another decade, but unfortunately Ford (absurdly) decided not to support these little beauties, and no parts were available to rebuild him. He was finally relinquished to the insurance company, but not before I laid myself across his hood in the parking lot of the Ford dealership body shop and wept like a B movie queen. My only consolation is that his engine—like donating a heart—likely went to a Jaguar in need. The stereo system—like a kidney—went to my brother’s family.
Honestly, I never thought I could be so attached to a car. It is true that I’m a Southern Californian, and that I depend on cars to make my life work. I’ve also had a car continuously since I was 16 years old. However, before the T-bird, a car was just a tool to get around. On my value scale, a car was far below loved ones, friends, co-workers, students, pets, people in general, music, art, food, clothes, a fun dance partner, and education and enlightenment for all. And, of course, world peace—or whirled peas, as one bumper sticker has it. Compared with those sorts of things, a car was just a necessity. However, I truly loved my Little Buddy the T-bird. After the accident (Did I mention it was a hit-and-run on the 91 freeway in the dark?), people said, as people do: “It was just a car. Thankfully, you are all right. You can replace a car.” What they meant was: “Why are you sad about a stupid car? What’s the big deal? Why are you being so shallow?” What’s the big deal? For me, losing my Little Buddy was like losing a beloved pet, a valued member of the family. In fact, after the parking lot histrionics, I continued to cry for two weeks straight. I’ll never feel the same about a car ever again; he was the auto love of my life. And, he was, by the way, in fact, irreplaceable.