My first car was a 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage four banger that my parents thought to be 'safe'. They were right. I couldn't speed in that thing if I wanted to. It only had enough power to go up a steep hill if I floored it to within an inch of its life.
Time went by and my dad (a used car trader) ended up with a 96 Riviera SC. I remember seeing that car for the first time. Gorgeous! Sleek lines, beautiful curves, what I call the 'fins' that rise up on the side. It was a heck of a lot larger car, at least three or four feet longer than the Mirage. I'd never heard an engine run so smooth. It was a car in an entirely different class than what I was used to driving. I remember my dad tossing me the keys and saying "Want to take it for a spin?"
It didn't struggle with turns, didn't struggle on hills. The interior was comfortable and I loved the curved dash. It seemed to do everything right, and like that it was mine. Smooth driving, smooth riding. I drove it everywhere... until it developed some problems (probably LIM related) that my dad didn't want to fix. So we parked it and he eventually sold it. I ended up moving on to a line of generic four door cars. Taurus, Sentra, etc.
Fast forward a good number of years. I'm poking around on Craigslist, looking at vehicles, when something catches my eye. "95 Buick Riviera $750". That starts me to thinking. I go out to the car and look at it. Pretty good car, nice body, but the engine has tell-tale knocking that's all too familiar. I haggle with the owner but she doesn't want to let it go for what I offer (knowing it needs heavy/probably expensive work done to the engine), so I have to walk away from it.
Well... I didn't give up. I kept on waiting and saw a 99 Riviera posted. They wanted an arm and a leg for it, but I thought "Might as well shoot them an offer". Turns out my dad knew the owner of the car and I got a pretty good price on it. It's a gorgeous car with just a few little things here and there wrong with it.
So now I'm pretty much a first time (well, first time I actually 'own' one) owner trying to restore the car and get it all fixed up back to its original gorgeous condition. I'm debating modding it somewhat since I've read it's a pretty friendly car to work with in terms of aftermarket parts. Anyway, I wanted to say thanks to everyone on here. I've already found tons of useful info.