My Convertible Life

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Story of the Convertible Girl

When I was about 10 years old, my dad bought a Fiat Spider convertible that was about the same age. It was navy blue and not nearly as shiny as the one on display in this photo (at left), but I loved it.

That year,
I became a convertible girl.

Six years later, my father presumably beyond the impulse that had inspired the purchase, I learned to drive a stick on this car. To get it into reverse, I had to use all my strength to pull up on the gear shift and force it back into gear. It had a choke and a throttle around the steering column, both of which required some sort of just-right-and-not-too-much balance to keep the car running. The trunk had it's own tiny key, separate from the ignition key, and we only had one copy -- when it was open, the heavy trunk lid propped up precariously on a thin pole. There were no shoulder straps, only lap belts, and certainly no air bags or other safety features. I kept a scrunchie (it was the late 80s, people) around the gear shift to keep my long (ahem, permed) hair out of my face while I was driving. The top was manual, of course, which required getting out of the car and heaving the top up or down. And I loved every minute of it.

Thinking back, I can't believe my parents ever let me drive this car. But they did -- and through some clever scheduling of my piano lessons immediately after school during my senior year, I managed to drive this car to and from high school nearly every day. It didn't exactly make the boys fall all over me, but it sure made me feel cool.

While I was away at college, my dad sold the car -- I couldn't take it with me to school and my brother wasn't old enough to drive at the time, so I guess it didn't make sense to keep it. I suffered through graduation driving a used Ford Taurus (but appreciative for the loaner), then bought my own convertible after starting my job in the fall. The only way I survived that first year of teaching was by putting the top down when I left work at the end of the day and driving aimlessly around town to clear my head.

That car, the black Toyota Celica shown in the top left of the new blog header, also helped me lure my husband. On my welcome-to-class form the first day I saw him (did I mention he was the professor in my first class in grad school?), I responded to the question "Is there anything else I should know about you?" with "I drive a convertible." Within two weeks, I had to change into a different section of the class so that I could date him.

When we got married one year later, my husband and I made convertible ownership a family policy. Getting in and out of the low-slung car when I was 9 months pregnant was no easy task, but I was willing to manage. After Junius was born, we wedged a car seat into the back of the Celica and kept on driving. When my beloved convertible started to wear down (after a wonderful 12 years behind the wheel), we debated about getting a more practical wagon. But I think we both always knew we'd end up with the pre-owned Solara instead (see top right of header).

Driving that Fiat to high school 20 years ago, I never would have believed one day I'd have two car seats in the back of my convertible. But they fit great, the kids love it, and it makes my husband happy. It's also the perfect reminder to me that even though being a mom changes everything, I'm still the same girl I've always been.

So welcome to my convertible life -- where things move fast, life is always changing and every day is different, even when it's exactly the same. As long as the sun is shining and the top is down, I know we'll make it through with a smile.

Fiat photo from International Auto Parts.


  1. That is too funny. I'm a convertible girl too having ridden around with my dad in his MGB from a very young age. Once the MGB got to be too much of a burden, my dad traded it in for a Mercury Capri. That Mercury Capri eventually became my wheels through my senior year and on into college. It was pure heaven to pop the top and whiz around in. I loved it so much that my senior yearbook quote was, "Go topless," in reference to my car not my shirt.

    Of course, upon college graduation and marriage, my dad reclaimed the car (I still think it should have been gifted to me but whatever) for my younger brother who proceeded to total it within 2 months. Grr.

    You are so lucky to have a husband who agrees that you should have a convertible to drive regularly. Adrian and I battled bitterly last time we purchased a car between my desire for a sports car (and likely a convertible) and his desire for a family car (despite no immediate childbearing plans). Yes, we totally confused the gender stereotyping car salesman. We finally compromised on the Ion we drive now. It's not quite 4 doors but also not quite as sporty as I wanted. As part of the compromise, though, Adrian PROMISED that IF Saturn (his fave car company) EVER made a convertible, he would buy it for me. A promise that he ultimately broke as Saturn indeed made the Sky, a car I do not as of yet drive.

    Anyway, enough rambling in your comments. I guess I should just say, we're two of a kind in our love of going topless. ;)


  2. Love this! Great job on the new blog and you story is so cute. I have never been in a convertible except on vacations when I was little. Funny right?

    Just became a follower and can't wait to read more! - Sue

  3. I love this! My dad had a red Camaro with white leather interior that was meant to be my car "someday" until he sold it. For a time he also had a 65 silver Corvette Stingray, which is how I got to and from swimming lessons each summer. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would own a convertible, and when I was 15 we went together to bring her home from the used car lot. I also had scrunchies - but on my emergency brake - including extras for friends. There's something about driving my Mustang Sally that makes all the hours in my mini-van melt away...

  4. I have a convertible too! I'd wanted one for years but went with practical choices while my kids were growing up. Once they were gone, I got one! Wooohooo! Love it!

    1. Sorry you waited so long, but glad you're finally top down! Enjoy :)

  5. I, too, am a convertible girl...and drive a Solara, as well. :) I am a transplant, but married my very own Carolina guy. I found you via ODNT, and wanted to stop by and say hello. :) So, HELLO!

    1. Welcome -- that ODNT is good stuff :) Congrats on your taste in cars and men!


But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think about me?

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.