1996 Pontiac Sunfire: A Blast from My Past

Even though I love my 2012 Kia Sorento SUV, enjoyed my 1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport SUV, and tolerated my first car, a 1991 Ford Tempo, that liked to stall while it was running (even though it was an automatic!), the best car I’ve ever owned would have to be the 1996 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe I got after I graduated high school. That sporty, Manta Green, zippy car was not only my very first brand new vehicle, that car literally saved my life. The Sunfire’s safe build, excellent gas mileage, and user-friendly features, easily make this my favorite car.

Safe Build Kept Me Alive

One night, nine months after I got my Sunfire, I was in a single-car accident while driving home on I-95. The air was thick with fog, and the roads were slick from an earlier rain storm. A possum ran in front of my car, and being the young driver I was, I swerved to miss the animal, rather than hitting it. The tires hit the wet grass when I over-corrected, and that sent my car fishtailing towards the trees clogging the median that separated the north and southbound lanes. My Sunfire went airborne and cut a massive hole through the tree canopy. I had no idea how bad the damage was until my mom showed me pictures of the wreckage the next afternoon. The only thing untouched by damage was the trunk. Despite the fact that my car was a total loss, it kept me safe. The seatbelts locked as they should have. The airbags deployed swiftly. But the feature that truly saved me by keeping my car from crumpling was the side-locking beams that ran through both sides of the frame. During previous instances of having to stop short, I would notice a loud locking sound, and I knew it was the safety beams engaging. Those side beams kept my car from trapping me inside a ball of metal. They allowed me to climb out of the car on my own. In short, the Sunfire’s safety features saved my life!

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$20 to Fill Up a Tank!

One of the greatest memories I have of owning my Pontiac Sunfire would have to be the trips to fill up the gas tankā€¦back when gas was only 98 cents a gallon! Even when the prices rose to just under $2.00 per gallon, the Sunfire still was the best vehicle for gas mileage that I’ve ever owned. I could fill up my tank for $20 and easily get 34 miles per gallon.

User Friendly

Although my Sunfire was a pretty sweet Manta Green color, it was not flashy by any means, but that did not stop it from having very user friendly features. My dad, however, was not thrilled by the “plastic” interior, but I didn’t mind. It gave it an almost spacey quality and made it easy to clean. The instrument knobs were ergonomically designed to be within easy reach.

Though I’ve owned several different makes and models of car, the Pontiac Sunfire was my favorite. I loved it so much and felt so safe driving it that I did not hesitate to purchase another after the first was wrecked. The safety, the great gas mileage, and the sporty features made this the best I’ve ever owned.