“I love a fast car and you got a fast ride so won’t you take me for a spin on ya’ highway...”
Christina Milian is not speaking metaphorically on her song “Highway,” but one thing is certain—she likes to drive more than she likes to ride.
In fact, her two favorite scents are part in a parcel of fancy cars—the smell of new money and the smell of a new car. “I love the smell of a new car,” she exclaims from her temporary Miami digs.
The odor of taut, new leather and factory-fresh fixtures takes her back to her Waldorf, Maryland childhood and riding in her father’s carmine-colored Firebird with her younger sisters. “We would have roads that were completely empty; he would stop real fast and hit the breaks real fast,” she remembers. “My father and I were very close. He raised us like little boys.”
Before she knew Hollywood, the recording booth or the camera, she was a small-town girl with a laundry list of after-school activities filling up the calendar to pass the time. “It was a big deal when we got a Wal-Mart,” she remembers of Waldorf.
Even then, Milian liked cars for the independence they symbolized. She couldn’t wait to learn how to drive. Quelling her thirst for excitement, she let out her more adventurous side, spending summers with her cousins in New Jersey, sitting on stoops, and running from the police. However, Milian was more of a tomboy than a bad girl. “Girls are not talking about cars, but I was hanging with the boys.”
Fast forward a few years. Her parents packed up the Ford Taurus station wagon and headed west to explore their three daughters’ superstar potential in Los Angeles. “I was always a ‘valley girl,’” she jokes. “We drove across country in that old Ford Taurus station and it eventually got so beat up in L.A. by hit-and-runs. We needed money, so we didn’t fix what needed to be fixed on the station wagon.”
When Milian turned 16, she inherited the Taurus station wagon. While some of her friends had hot new cars, she was just happy to have a car to drive. “I couldn’t rely on anybody else,” she says.
This real life drive and independence fostered her resolve to focus on her career at a young age. With her vocals on Ja Rule’s “Between You and I,” she was in the market for her first material measure of accomplishment. She bought a brand new Dodge Durango to celebrate. “It was one of my first accomplishments in 2000,” she says. “I love that car; I love the way it drove. I thought I was going to have it forever. That was my baby.”
Nevertheless, like money, cars, too, can be easy come, easy go. “One of my sister’s boyfriends was driving it and totaled my baby,” she moans. No one was injured, and Milian was soon in a position to replace the Durango.