Americans sure love their cars. I suppose people all over the world do too, but it seems like Americans practically worship them. Hence the popularity of Pixar’s ‘Cars’ franchise. Owning your first car is a rite of passage and a significant step toward adulthood. What was your first ride?
My first car was a dark green Chevrolet S10, and that short cab, short bed little pickup had a mean V6. I promptly drove it into the side of a minivan when I was 16, and when I was 17 and on bald tires, I slid off a wet freeway and into a guard rail. It’s funny now to think that I only had that vehicle for five years. When it was working and not in a tow lot, it was a real blast that I remember fondly.
Upon graduating high school at the age of 17, my parents gifted me a 1988 four-door Ford Escort. Sometime within this vehicle’s ten-year life, it had been wrecked, given a salvage title, then repaired and re-sold. I don’t think that car ever fully healed from its wounds. Just weeks after buying it, the alternator went out and took the water pump and timing belt with it. For a 17-year-old, that’s an expensive fix. Then the brakes went out without notice and took the rotors with them. Another expensive fix. Then, the ignition relay melted and kept the car in a perpetual state of turning over. You can imagine how fun it was getting that shaking and smoking beast to quit turning over. At the six-month mark, the transmission kicked the bucket and I quit pumping money into it. In fact, some company paid me a few hundred bucks to let them haul it away for parts.
Despite its many issues, I had a blast with that car for the six months that we were together. It was jet black with tinting so dark that it actually earned me a ticket. Because of its all-black appearance and my Italian heritage, my friends and I named it the Mafiamobile. There were countless trips to the beach, concerts and parties over that six month period. I probably rode that car a little hard, but it’s not like it wasn’t a lemon already.
M. Enois Duarte
In very stereotypical fashion, I was 16 when I officially earned my driver’s license and bought my first car, which was a 1986 Nissan Sentra B11. This particular model was a 5-door station wagon, the last of its kind if I recall correctly because the B12 models became hatchbacks. This was also the time when Datsun was transitioning into Nissan, so many of their cars still had the logos of both on either side of the car, which was another difference in the B12s.
By today’s standards, the style and model of the car were rather hideous looking, but it was only a couple years old in excellent condition, five-speed stick shift and a bright cherry red. I made so many memories in that car, driving around with friends all over L.A., graduating high school, visiting my recruiter’s office, entering college when I returned, going to nightclubs and checking out drive-in theaters the year many were permanently closing.
Sadly, after nearly ten years of being a good part of my life, my cherry red Nissan was permanently retired after a car accident that nearly killed me. I held onto it for another couple years as a reminder in my grandparents’ backyard before finally selling it for scrap metal. I’ll miss that ugly beast.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
We celebrated my sixteenth birthday at my grandmother’s palatial house, and part of the way through, my father took me down into the garage. I saw a ratty looking 1984 Pontiac Fiero, and it didn’t immediately click. I’m pretty sure I even asked something to the effect of, “Whose p.o.s. is that?” Turns out it was mine! I will never drive a worse car in my lifetime. The headliner was sagging badly, so I had twenty-year-old fabric drooping onto my head when I drove. The handling was dire. Its gas pedal was mostly non-responsive, so I was either idling or flooring it with absolutely nothing in between. Thankfully, mine never burst into flames as ’84 Fieros were somewhat prone to doing. I never felt safe driving it, so it basically just sat in a driveway until I got a new Kia Sephia as a high school graduation gift about a year and a half later. I have no idea what happened to my old Fiero, but hopefully whoever wound up with it after me is still alive to tell the tale.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a car while I was a teenager. My family couldn’t afford that, and my mother hardly ever let me drive hers. I didn’t have a car of my own until after college, and that was a gift from my future in-laws that I shared with the later Mrs. Z. It was very generous, but also very utilitarian. The vehicle was a 1988 Subaru station wagon that was nearing a decade old and well over 100,000 miles by the time we got it. Most of the paint had peeled off the hood. This thing was hideous, but it was functional and it somehow held together for several more years as we drove it into the ground with countless trips between Boston and Maine.
Near the end of its life, the Subaru’s engine literally burst into flames as I was driving it through a toll booth on the Tobin Bridge. I had to pull over to the side and park it right there on the bridge. (The flames fortunately went out when I turned off the engine.) Because I didn’t have a cell phone on me, the toll collectors allowed me inside their secret sanctuary to make a pay phone call to AAA. I waited there for a couple hours before a truck could tow me home. Remarkably, the damn junker held out for about another year after I had that problem fixed. Eventually, we replaced it with a newer and better car.
Tell us your automotive memories in the Comments.