The morning of March 31, 2009 was little different from every Tuesday morning, although there was slightly more tension in the air. The staff meeting seemed to drag on even more slowly than usual. There were a few less fires to put out. After checking the clock one thousand plus times, it finally proclaimed the noon hour in bright, bold, throbbing red numerals that somehow knew the significance of that moment.
The first tone of my cell phone signaled the beginning of a new and unique adventure. While fumbling to dig the phone from a pocket too filled with useless detritus, anxious strides propelled me down the corridor to the front door. My wife’s voice on the phone confirmed what I could, by then, see. She was behind the wheel of her Solstice with the engine running. Our parking lot departure could have impressed professional bank robbers as her anticipation for what was about to occur rivalled mine.
The short drive to Carl’s Pontiac – Buick – GMC in Stuart, Florida required “the patience of Job” as every one of the six traffic lights somehow managed to create confusion and backups for the entire population of snowbirds that infiltrate our community each winter. Once we arrived at the dealership, my wife left to complete her busy schedule, and the transaction that ended with me accepting delivery of a brand new Pontiac G8 GXP was efficiently completed. If only the dealership staff was also in charge of Stuart automobile traffic flow! The whirlwind process ended with the exchange of a $40,000 financial commitment (spread over 60 months at 0% interest!!) for the 1,388th vehicle off the G8 GXP assembly line at the Holden Australia manufacturing facility.
When my eyes opened, I was sitting in the Onyx/Red Interior of my Panther Black Metallic, sunroof-equipped car. My right hand rested comfortably on the shifter for the 6-speed manual transmission. Of the 1,829 built, mine was 1 (actually #58 off the assembly line) of 70 with that configuration. The dream of owning a full-sized sedan with a manual transmission had been with me since 1965, and suddenly it was fulfilled! Bill Hayden, the general manager of the dealership, at that moment told me, “Walter, you’re never going to sell this car!” On the 5th anniversary of that momentous occasion, I might agree.
The experience has not been a love affair. More like a marriage, the past 5 years have been filled with ups and downs, like my first speeding ticket (85 in a 50). I was heartsick when I burned through brand new rear tires during a 10 day vacation in Lake Lure, NC, that included a spirited drive through Deal’s Gap – The Tail of the Dragon (truly a high). Trips to attend my son’s wedding in the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square, PA, and 16 months later to attend the baptism, in Herndon, VA, of my granddaughter, proved the G8 GXP’s prowess as a people mover. 78,000 miles later, the car is still a head turner. Its rarity raises a lot of comments and questions. I particularly appreciate its understated elegance. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tuxedo, reserves of power lurk below the surface. Most importantly, every time I slip behind the wheel, ignite the engine, and shift into 1st gear with that authoritative “snick,” I am transported to another time – another place. My dream has come true.