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My First Car: '65 Buick Riviera, Peter J Birrow, 64, Gulfport

'65 Buick Riviera

Spending 12 months in Vietnam humping up and down the Central Highlands convinced me to never walk again. When everything you own is carried on your back and a rifle is in your hands 24/7, your perspective changes. The dream of that long-ago conviction was to buy the newest and fastest Corvette I could afford, but when I got out of the Army in January 1970, there was a more prominent mission in place. College and marriage would come first, followed by the unknown, then my Corvette. What you see here is my first car, a used 1965 Buick Riviera that would take me to school and work, then later that year on a honeymoon to Canada. It was a classically designed car that rode so well and went sort of fast, but not "Corvette fast." I kept it spotless as I washed it and polished it feverishly in my parents' driveway until we got married in October. Prior to our wedding, we bought an acre of land so we could build ourselves a home in the future. Before we could start construction, my bride Susan had to finish college to get her degree. She was completing her last year doing an internship at a local hospital when I got the fatal call: "Somebody stole the car!" We never saw our beautiful white Riviera again, but were compensated quite well for the loss by the insurance company. Somehow, my perspective changed once more for the better. The proceeds from this vehicular loss now turned into the seed money to build our new home. Forty-two years passed by quickly in that well-built home. Over those years, two daughters and two weddings happened while two dogs and one cat let us live there. Recently, we were able to sell our home and buy a wonderful condo here on Boca Ciega Bay. All of these life events possibly would not have happened if not for our beautiful Buick Riviera! Oh, did I forget to mention the five Corvettes I had over those years?

You say you had cool wheels yourself?

Whether it was your first or your favorite — or both — we'd like to hear your story.

All we need is an email telling us:

About the car: the make, model and year, and a short description of why you love it

About you: your name, address and date of birth

Then, attach a high-resolution photo or a scanned image of the car to the email and send it to drive@tampabay.com. Cars will appear in LifeTimes or AutoLink.

My First Car: '65 Buick Riviera, Peter J Birrow, 64, Gulfport 10/24/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:38am]
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