Three months after I graduated from college, and one month before I began flight training to become a U.S. Naval Aviator, I bought a slightly used Datsun 280Z sports car. My father thought that I had lost my mind when I told him that I traded a three-year-old Dodge Dart that sported the famed “slant six” engine for a coupe with no trunk. I did not tell him that the loss of the tricked out stereo system (centered on an 8 track tape player) in the Dodge had bothered me the most. I gave the auto dealer my entire collection of fifty 8 track tapes with the trade in because the 280Z featured a new (at the time) cassette tape deck with the stereo system.
I named my 280Z (sterling silver in color) “The Silver Bullet.” I became “The Lone Ranger,” not so much because of the name of my car, but because my “almost engaged with me” college girlfriend began to question her life as a future Navy wife. She had two years of college in front of her, and I was no longer with her in Charleston, SC. Suitors told her that if she married me she would become “a sea widow” when I deployed with my ship for many months at a time. Guess what? Apparently the car does make the man. The Silver Bullet became a head turner and soon I dropped the irrelevant Lone Ranger title for me.
The Silver Bullet moved like the wind itself! I especially loved to race it on I-10 (East-West Interstate Highway 10) on weekend nights when I traveled between Naval Air Station Whiting Field and Pensacola, to “Trader’s Johns” (famous Naval Aviator dance and dinner club). On several occasions, the police stopped me for speeding. Lucky for me, each time, the officer wanted to check out The Silver Bullet. I showed officers how I could raise and lower the radio antenna by flipping a switch in the cockpit. Who would write a traffic ticket after seeing that?
One year after I bought the 280Z I engaged to marry a Pensacola girl. Then, I faced the grim prospect of supporting both a wife and a sports car. I negotiated with my credit union to extend the loan for the car. The loan officer told me that the credit union would only do that in an emergency situation. “I am getting married,” I revealed, which qualified as an emergency. I got the girl and I kept the car! Six months after marriage, I received the Wings of Gold and a designation as a Naval Aviator. My new wife, a guinea pig in a cage, and I drove away in The Silver Bullet on a bright summer morning, to begin the adventure that the Navy promised and delivered to us.