32 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Your First Car

  1. A 1970 manual, Hulk green VW Rabbit – enough room under the hood to climb in next to the “sideways” mounted, four cylinder, front-wheel drive engine to get out of the rain…
    When it ran well, it was the kindly Bruce Banner…
    When it didn’t, it was a monster…

  2. Got my first car in 2001. It was a 1993 Chevy Cavalier. Ugly teal color with faded paint on the roof. Power locks yet manual windows. No air conditioning. There was also a mysterious leak somewhere in the trunk, so every time it rained, the floor in the backseat was soaked with up to an inch of water, and the whole car whole stink like mildew and dirty feet for days after.

    But she was all mine! A car equals freedom, and there are few things as American as our love of cars, especially that first one.

  3. Hillman Minx Convertible. The kind you lowered by hand. Hand-me-down from my dad. Manual transmission, ‘backward’ because although they’d move the steering wheel to the “correct” side for America, they didn’t reverse where the gears were. This would have been in 1963, but I don’t know the year of the car.

  4. 1964 Olds Cutlass Coupe. Turquoise green. Got it in ’69. Nothing fancy, but it got me back and forth to college from 70 -74. And, as Philip pointed out, to a kid at home, the first car is spelled F-R-E-E-D-O-M!

  5. I had always been a big Starsky & Hutch fan so of course the “Striped Red Tomato” was a big part of life growing up (my mom had Hutch’s LTD). So in the 80’s after I graduated high school, a family member graciously provided me with a 1974 Ford Gran Torino–it was neither striped nor red, and it was a 4 door instead of the 2 door model from the show and light brown, but I loved it. I was independent!

    I remember the starter was messed up for a tme & I couldn’t afford to fix it, so I had to carry 2 sets of keys–if you went somewhere in the car and turned it off, you couldn’t turn it back on again for a few hours. So with one set of keys I left the car running if I had to go in to a store or something, and used the other set of keys to unlock it when I came back out.

    That was back in the day when the gas station attendant was someone other than yourself. LOLOL!!!!!!!

      • I learned to drive in a 1966 Fury, in grandpa’s junk yard. Along with two cousins I was the last of the grandchildren to learn in the junk yard. It was a great place to learn about life. Why seatbelts? I have seen a blood soaked windshield. What do tornados do to trailer homes? Twist them like a ribbon. Truck vs. train? ALWAYS put $10 on the train.

  6. My first car was a 1987 blue Ford Escort, the week before I was hired by the library. Brand-new, automatic. We bought it through car broker and picked up an extended four year warranty for a couple of hundred bucks. Which ended up being an excellent decision.

    Three weeks after we bought it I was driving down a highway when the car abruptly shuddered, lost power and died. Turned out there was a problem with the fuel-line. The local dealership replaced it. A couple of weeks later, it happened again. They replaced the fuel pump. It happened at least one more time. More things went wrong, eventually culminating in the automatic transmission seizing up while driving up a steep hill on the way to my branch four years later, shortly before the warranty expired.

    When we traded in the car a month later for a new Honda Civic, the Honda dealership told us the car had suffered body damage and been repainted. It had been damaged before we’d bought it, new.

    However, despite all the many visits to the service department to fix fuel lines, fuel pumps, the engine and, eventually, the automatic transmission, the car did get me to and from the library for four years as well as on numerous trips to the grocery store etc, so there’s that.

    Happy Friday–looks to be another beautiful day here.

  7. 1974 FIAT X/19. Bought in 1984. Bright green, 74hp but handled like a (slow) race car. Targa top came off at every chance because at 6’2″ it was easier to see stop lights over the top. A lot of fun – when it ran.

    My mechanic was a group of ex-Israeli tank mechanics. Their preferred phrase for my car, “It is how you say, f*cked up.” I think I sent his kid to college.

  8. A 65 Acadian Beaumont. For you Americans, that would be a four door Chev.

    It was a POS. Lots of rust, sucked gasoline like crazy. The Banana yellow coloured was like vomit.

    I hated that thing with passion and vowed to drive a pickup till they take my licence away.

  9. An emberglow 1966 Ford Mustang. No A/C, but really, you wanted that feel of the breeze on your face through the open window. It ran like a top. I was the envy of my college friends. Best car ever!

  10. Great question . . . I bought my first car at age 17.

    It was a 1955 Chevy wagon, salmon pink with white trim. It’d sat in my great-aunt’s garage for about 20 years.

    My Dad owned a service station for years, so he was well-qualified to check it out.

    I loved that car! Wish I had it today. 🙂

  11. In 197o one of my older brothers gave me a hulking 1950 Plymouth for $50. The floor was rusted through and I kept the driver side door closed with a belt. I put a wood floor in and mounted two upholstered chairs from Goodwill as front seat. Three-on-the-tree and motor ran great! As a 16 yo I was thrilled.
    An aside – for any interested the Kindle version of my 4th thriller “insurrection” is free on Amazon today and tomorrow.
    Happy 4th to all. Proud and lucky to live in the USA!

  12. 1957 Chevrolet 150. ex Pepsi salesman’s car. I ran the hell out of it.
    Second was a 1956 Ford Victoria because I liked the way the headlights looked.

    Third and my most favorite was a 1950 Ford couple my old man named “The Blob”. It had been brush painted green in a previous life and cost me $25. I still love flatheads.

    I can claim to have 800 right seat miles in a Borgward Isabella and 450 right seat miles in a Yugo.

  13. I started at USC about 2 weeks after my dad died, so I drove his 4 year old ’52 Cad. I never thought of it as my car, only dad’s car.

    When I was 19, my mom bought me a red 1958 MGA. It was a bit problematic (mostly because of the “Prince of Darkness” [Lucas Electric] parts), but it was fun to drive. Lost the synchromesh on 2nd, so heel-and-toe downshifting thereafter. I eventually traded it in on a ’67 BMW 1600. I still dream that I own the MG.

  14. My first car was a 1966 Chevelle Malibu — not the Super Sport. The monthly loan payment was $92.14, which sounds pretty darn good except that I was making $1.25 an hour at the bank. It had bucket seats, a three-speed manual transmission (column shift) with not one upgrade anywhere, including no power brakes, no power windows, and no power steering. Plus, no A/C. Oh, and it was black, inside and out.

    One day my mom’s car (’65 Lincoln) needed to be in the shop for whatever reason but she still needed transportation. So she dropped me off at the bank and went on her merry way. When she picked me up, she had her arms crossed over her chest, clutching her boobs. Even though the Lincoln was at least a foot longer than the Malibu and weighed considerably more, Mom was accustomed to turning her car on a dime to get in and out of parking spots, without having to use her boobs. She also wasn’t a fan of the no-power brakes — she said had to stomp on them so they’d work. She also hated that she had to manually crank the windows up and down, depending on whether she wanted to be “cool” or not wind-blown, since the Malibu was without air conditioning. Over the years, every once in a while, she’d bring up her three hours of hell that she spent in my car. I think after that, she appreciated her car even more.

    This next part doesn’t have anything to do with how well the Malibu ran, because she always ran well. This has to do with my teenage brain, and how it didn’t always run at functional speed.

    Setting, Kansas City in the middle of summer:

    The parking lot for bank employees was a slab of concrete across the street — no trees, no shade, no nothing. Just concrete and sun. Most everybody just left their windows rolled down since interiors got so warm. One day it was supposed to rain so i kept my windows rolled up. Eight hours later, I went out to the car, opened the door and was met by a blast of heat like you wouldn’t believe. The driver seat was so hot that I had to sit on newspapers. I still felt the heat on my back and legs and through my short skirt, but it was tolerable. The house was 5 minutes away. I figured I could do this. And then I grabbed the black steering wheel. it was like grabbing a heated curling iron. Those 5 minutes felt like forever as I steered the car by my fingertips, plus shifted gears.

    The lesson my teenage brain learned: even if it’s supposed to rain, always leave the windows cracked.

    I had the car for I think 3 years. She always ran well. I can’t remember why I sold her. My next car, a VW, also had no A/C, but at least she had a beige interior and a sun roof (that leaked).

  15. An early 1960s beige Dodge Dart. I forget the exact year. I called it Goat which tells you how badly it started. It was a place car of a few months from my parents. I was supposed to get a new car for my college graduation present, but I needed a car to do student teaching so I got that undependable pile of junk. Dad regretted it because I kept being stuck at the middle school when it wouldn’t start. My REAL first car was a 1971 baby blue Ford Grenada. I loved that car and kept it for years until Mom insisted I really needed a newer, safer car. I’ve never had a more fun car to drive.

  16. 1978 Mercury Zephyr that joined my life in 1984, a smooth running upscale model of the Ford Fairmont, it is a car model that no one I have ever talked to has ever heard of before me mentioning it. My step dad, a high-level lay-mechanic, chose it for me to ensure it was in good shape and safe. I think we paid $1500 for it, I had to pay my folks back, and nearly 30 years later I learned that after I left home for the military my cousin bought it and amazingly was still driving it in 2015.

  17. 1988 Hyundai Excel hatchback. 4-speed manual, no air conditioning. Every plastic piece broke in that car, but the little guy ran forever.

    Happy 4th for those in the US!

  18. I am the odd one who never owned a car, never interested in exams for driving license, preferring other kinds of exams (PhD in World Economics, proffessional translator certificates, etc.)
    Metro, buses and trams are enough, thank you!

  19. A 1955 Oldsmobile, white with blue trim, a 4-door. My first car. I spoiled it. Washed it every week, drove it to work and on weekend excursions.

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