Roughly a year ago I met a girl under unfortunate circumstances; she become one of my best friends and changed my life forever. Almost immediately we became inseparable, taking road trips to new places and discovering things together. But being with her made me realize that I needed to change; I needed to learn how to be myself. I often times I find myself worrying about what others think, and I alter myself to try and fit in. “Am I making myself look stupid?” “No don’t do that, you’ll get laughed at.” It is not an uncommon problem, but I always felt I was worse than most with the habit. Thankfully she was by my side to push me along.

Slowly over the last year myself and others have brought her up to speed with the automotive world and she discovered the same love for cars that many of us have. In fact she often reminds us of how we’ve “ruined” her forever, but hey, welcome to the club right? Fast forward to the last few weeks, life is insane for the both of us, throwing curve balls left and right. When does it ever stop? “Life in the Fast Lane” seems to be on repeat. Suddenly life came to a screeching halt, when she gives me a call that nobody can ever be prepared for. She hit a deer while in her home town. Thankfully she was fine, but the car was totaled. Being nearly four hours away in her time of need made me feel sick. But then a blessing in disguise shortly reared its beautiful head.

In the process of dealing with getting her car taken care of, my lady friend received a rental car, a 2016 Dodge Challenger that was essentially brand new. Now we both have traveled thousands of miles together in a wide array of cars ranging from my Mazdaspeed Miata to a Chevy Silverado. However this Challenger was somehow more special than the rest. We are just driving around listening to satellite radio, and something happened. Something new that never has before. I let myself go. I was dancing and singing to the songs like I was the only person on the planet. Even though she was with me, I didn’t care how silly I looked.

You never know how, why, or when you will have a special moment like this, but they always happen. Its part of what makes cars special. On the face of it, this Challenger has no special or redeeming features. It is nothing more than a rental fleet with a V6 engine and an autotragic transmission. It looks nice, but that’s it. Still, it was this machine that I was in when I had my personal victory, and for that alone it will always hold a special place in my heart. When I’m 60 years old, I’ll see an old 2016 Challenger for sale somewhere with a V6 and an automatic, and I will pine for that thing more than anyone will understand or know. Its part of what drives the love for the automobile. It’s part of the magic.

I owe a lot to this young woman and I can’t wait to see where life takes us in the future. Never did I think a Dodge Challenger would be the car that set me free, and never did I think she would be part of that. It’s not too often I get sentimental over moments in life, but this one will always stick with me. I’ve still got a lot of growing to do, but I’m on the right track.

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