Before meeting me, my wife had barely given cars a thought. Every car she had owned before she met me was either free or a mediocre used car that cost her a few hundred bucks. Some of these were absolutely terrible, like the Chevy Cavalier she was driving when we first met, while others were solid choices. Her favorite was a blue 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera S. Of course, cars weren’t exactly anything she really paid attention to back then, so the only picture that exists of this particular car is the trunk sticking out from behind a minivan, taken from a distant window or something. So it’s best to use your imagination with the photo below.
She received this Cutlass Ciera for free from someone at her church, as they were looking to get rid of it, and it wasn’t exactly worth much at that point. It had an Adriatic Blue cloth interior and wide, super plush seats that fit three across in the front and back — along with a steering-wheel cover the previous owner had left on it. According to my wife, her Cutlass Ciera was the most comfortable car she’s ever driven, as the car’s floaty suspension and plush seats smoothed out all sorts of bumps on the road, including cobblestone streets in downtown Richmond.
While the Cutlass Ciera isn’t as big as the American luxo-barges of the 1970s and 1980s, it felt gigantic compared to the Neon she was driving before. This — combined with the famously vague steering that Oldsmobiles of this era were known for — made it seem positively boaty. She actually loved this feel of gigantism, and she wears it like a badge of honor. If you ask her about it, she’ll proudly tell the story about the time where she maneuvered her Olds into a tight parallel parking spot in a prime location downtown, only a hair big enough to fit her car. She spent a considerable amount of time getting into the spot, attracting a crowd of cheering onlookers, but she managed to park it perfectly.
Unfortunately after less than a year, the car broke beyond her budget’s ability to fix it at that time, so she donated it to charity and got the Cavalier. I wish I would have been able to drive it, given her love of the thing. But her experience made me realize that cars are largely a personal experience, and the merits we discuss are largely irrelevant to the stories and experiences they bring. The Cutlass Ciera was by no means an amazing car, but my wife loved driving it, and that’s good enough for me.
(The picture below with her car circled is the best picture she had of the Cutlass)
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