Sunday, May 24, 2015

A UD Student "Auto" Biography from Leipzig -- Eric Banta -- 1991 Olds Cutlass SL Ciera

91 Ciera Cutlass SL Oldsmobile

I have never been one to get overly excited about the vehicle I was riding in or which car I would be able to drive next. I specifically remember riding in a Bonneville, a Dodge Ram Mini-van, an Oldsmobile 88, a Lesabre, and a VW CC just to name a few. Most of these cars performed their intended function without a hitch, but none of these cars left as much of an impression on my life as the silver 1991 Ciera Cutlass SL Oldsmobile I drove during my high school years and half of my college years. As far as cars go, this Oldsmobile was nothing special: the hood and trunk were scratched from my all the times my Grandpa used the car as a rest for his toolbox, the inside was worn and stained from the three years of abuse from my older brother, and later in the car’s life the transmission would start to go as well as the willingness for the car to start in the first place. But despite all of these negative factors, I look back at my time riding in and driving the Ciera Cutlass with a special sort of fondness, not as the first car I had the privileged to call my own, but as a car with the perfect type of personality to reflect the era in my life I was living in[A1] 
The Cutlass was first purchased by my Grandfather and passed down to mom who allowed its use by my older brother, who was desperate for the freedom associated with vehicular transportation. I do not remember how long it took him, but eventually he christened the car Percival James Banta, and with this action the Cutlass started to obtain its own minor set of mythos and unique character. Just to begin with, my brother and I were driving a car we thought was driven exclusively by old men, which we felt already brought mixed levels of attention toward us as we drove or parked in a student lot packed with new and luxury cars. With the Cutlass’s specific looks, we often would play up the fact that it was an old “classic”, or a nice car for the era it originally was made in, or the fact that the car had a good deal of power below the hood and therefore was great for zipping around town. By having the mentality that to varying degrees the piece of junk car we could distinguishingly be seen in around town was actually an old gem led to a lot widespread respect for the car throughout my high school year among my friends and some of my classmates. The car even earned a nomination for worst car during my senior superlatives, which I consider an honor given my graduating class had over 1,000 students.
If someone did not like my car, we would educate them why it was the ideal high school car with its comfortable deep cushioned seats or its amazing track record for still being a running vehicle. I would even play the danger card by informing them my car had no airbags. This all seems a bit over the top, but the personification for the car character was a fun way to think about a situation that in certain respects was less than ideal. The car character allowed me to think of my metallic steed in a different way when I picked my friends up for a little bit of mischief or I picked up the class babe to work on a history project. The car was more than something that just took me from point A to point B, it was an extension of myself and as such it was something I needed to be proud of whether it deserved the praise or not.
Looking back, I miss the Cutlass despite all of the car pitfalls and mounting mechanical failures over time. In some ways I like to think of the car as a trusted steed present in the good times and the bad. In a less dramatic way, I can look back at the car as the setting for numerous hilarious and dramatic events during the coming of age years throughout high school. For this reason I was sad to see the car get sold to Car Max. Its passing signifies the true end to an era in my life and the beginning of new chapter that started with a 2012 Ford Fusion[A2] .

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