My First Car

I picked up a book in the library recently called. “My First Car” and it described the first cars owned by various celebrities, including Carrol Shelby Dan Gurney, etc.

We may have had this topic before but I would really be interested in the regulars and visitors what their first car was. Mine was a 1948 Chevrolet 4 door with no options whatsoever. It did have an engine block heater though. It had 80,000 miles on it when I got it and 4 years later I gave it to my kid brother in college. He drove it a further 2 years.

It had been owned by a military guy and was well maintained. He had repainted it a vile metallic green which earned it the nick name “The Green Hornet” by the student body.

Over the 4 years I did a valve job, new battery, replaced both rear leaf springs, brake shoes, installed seat covers but otherwise it held up well. The girls I dated loved it because it had a very powerful heater, and some of my sports car driving friends often borrowed it for dates. One English major with a sense of humor called it “the heater with the car attached”.

My first car was a brand-new metallic blue '71 Dodge Charger SE, with black leather interior and black vinyl “canopy” roof. IMHO, this was a very cool-looking car for the time, and nothing on the car ever needed repairs in the 3 years that I owned it. However, the brakes were…pathetic.

Prior to that car, I drove my father’s '63 Plymouth, and–later–his '66 Galaxie 500.
I could have bought a car sooner than I did, but because my father didn’t use his car during the week, he advised that I drive his car to work for a few years, while saving my money. As a result, I paid cash for that Charger and for all of my subsequent cars. My father’s life experiences during The Great Depression taught him the importance of thrift, and he imparted that knowledge to me.

My only mistake with the Charger was when I traded it in on a '74 Volvo, in the quest for better gas mileage. My mileage with the Volvo was actually only a couple of MPGs better than that of the Charger, and the Volvo was an unmitigated piece of crap.

Within a few months, I realized that I should have kept my rock-solid Charger instead of trading it for the marginally more economical Volvo, because the small economy advantage of the Volvo was quickly wiped-out by the cost of necessary repairs.

My first car was my grandfathers, 1961 olds dynamic 88, with a 394, The car was such a tank the 394 did not make it a muscle car. Grandfather was paralized by spinal tumor surgery, his big regret was if he had known my sister and I were getting the car he would have bought a better one. Had a big backseat, learned about points carbs etc on that one.

55 Chevy 4 dr, 265 with a slip and slide powerglide and an AM radio.

1974 Ford F-100. My dad wanted a truck, but really couldn’t justify having four vehicles for two licensed drivers (before I got my license). I wanted an 87-89 Mustang 5.0L (and I still do to this day). One day when I was 15 years old, right before I left to catch the bus for school, my dad said something to the effect that he was going to pick up what was going to be my mode of transportation when got my license. I asked what it was going to be. He said “Well, it’s got two doors, a V8, and a manual transmission.” I was definitely hoping dad was going to come through with that V8 Mustang, as he had a 1967 K Code Mustang when he was in high school. But of course when I got home that day, in the driveway was 20 year old, rusty, barely running, pickup truck with a bad clutch, and at least 160k miles on it, possible 260k, we weren’t really sure and apparently the previous owner wasn’t either.

It didn’t have A/C, It didn’t have power steering, it didn’t have power brakes, it didn’t have 3 point seat belts, it had a 3 on the tree, the upholstery was mostly duct tape, it had an 8 track player that didn’t work. I was informed that this was going to be our project and that we had several months to restore it, and make it presentable, and that I wanted to use it, I was going to have to put in my fair share of sweat equity. I learned a few years later that dad had paid “about $800” for this specimen.

Now, I wasn’t opposed to idea of pickup truck, and I had a feeling that was what I was going to end up with. But I was expected something somewhat newer, like an 86-89 model. Something that had A/C, power steering/brakes/etc. I also was hoping for a 4WD truck, but my dad to this day, claims that “you don’t need it.”, it should be pointed out that during out last snow storm, my dad couldn’t make it out of his driveway with his current 2WD 2002 F-150, but I digress…

Anyway, the restoration went smoothly, we were in no hurry. The smog-era 2bbl 302 was deemed inadequate, so we found a junkyard 390 4bbl, and rebuilt it, warming it over a little ( a little hotter cam, had the heads decked and cleaned up, and medium rise aluminum intake with a 650 cfm carb, we wanted to do headers, but couldn’t find any that were reasonably priced so that didn’t happen. But the 390 was definitely more potent than the 302, we found a Ford 9 inch center section with 4.11 gears and swapped those in place of the stock 3.08 gears (I think). New tires, new brakes, had the truck repainted, had the seat redone (new foam and upholstery, put a radio in with four new speakers (had to put the rear speakers in coffee cans), put in a headliner of sorts, repainted the dash and interior, had the wagon wheels media blasted and we repainted them, and got new center caps, and a bedliner, basically we restored the truck over the course of 8 months or so.

The only thing that wasn’t replaced was the clutch. Dad’s reasoning was that I was going to burn up a clutch whilst learning to drive stick (particularly 3 on the tree), and he didn’t want me to ruin a new clutch. Fortunately I was a quick study and it only took me about 30 minutes to get the hang of it. Dad held off on the clutch for few months, which was annoying.

We did make a slight oversight during the restoration process. We kept the same radiator, the stock radiator cooled the 302 just fine, but it struggled mightily cooling the 390 when the outside temps got above 90 or so. During hot weather, it was okay at highway speed, but if you were going up a mountain maybe doing 40 MPH, there was a good chance you were going to have to pull over and let the engine cool down before you reached the top. And with the added weight of the big block and no power steering, parking was a chore.

I drove the F-100 through my last two years of high school, I won’t lie, I hooned it quite a bit, the torque of the 390 plus the 4.11 gears, and the fact that the truck didn’t carry much weight over the rear wheels made girl-impressing* burnouts a regular occurrence. And since there were a fair amount of out-in-the-country dirt roads, I lived out some my Dukes of Hazzard fantasies. However I never put a dent or even a noticeable scratch on the truck. I never broke anything on it, or had it break down on me (aside from the overheating thing) I had invested too much time and effort into it.

*turns out girls generally aren’t swept off their feet by a heroic burnout.

I drove the truck until I was 18, and my late grandmother, decided that it was a deathtrap and she would not have her favorite grandchild driving around in that. She then bought me a 1992 Ford Thunderbird SC for my 18th birthday and I drove that through most of my college years. The T-Bird was like something out of Star Trek compared to the F-100, it had A/C power everything, even an oil change monitor, and adjustable shocks. It was also faster and handled/braked much better.

My first car was a 57 Chevy wagon. I don’t remember what engine was in that, but I presume it was the old reliable 235 with an automatic on the tree.

I was only 16 (1970) and bought it for $500 from the neighbor. It was in fair shape though it did have cancer of the rear wheel wells. That car got me to school, work and everywhere my buddies and I cruised till the wee hours on the weekends.

Sold it to a friend of a friend and I think the guy blew the motor soon after, because I saw it for years behind their barn. It may still be there hidden in the brush and tall grass.


Mine was a 1961 Ford Galaxy. No Galaxy 500 for me, a plain Jane manual transmission no options but the radio Ford Galaxy. The first time I went for a date in this car, the first thing she said upon sitting down was “what, no arm-rests!” … lol …

About the only thing I did myself was wash/wax the exterior, change the oil and filter, and a basic plugs/points tune-up. It was lacking in power, top speed around 80 if your pressed really really hard on the pedal, and the suspension system design wasn’t so hot so speeds approaching 80 put your life at risk should the wind change directions suddenly, but all in all it was a pretty reliable ride. Maybe that’s why I continue to like minimalist cars … lol …

1966 Ford Mustang, 289-2V, with C4 auto, bought used in 1970. It was white with a maroon interior. Had no problems with it, but sold it after a year to buy a 1968 AMC AMX. This thing had twice the power of the Mustang, but was ½ the car. 390 V8, very fast, but a lot of little problems.

My first car was a 1973 Toyota Corolla hand me down from parents. It was an automatic but had no power steering, no power brakes, no radio. It had a joke of an after market add on a/c that worked for a few years but most of the car’s life was sans a/c.

No creature comforts but a surprisingly durable, reliable tin can with four overworked hamsters under the hood.

With RWD and short wheelbase, I created parking slots for it. It handled surprisingly well and had a very functual trunk that held a generous volume of cargo. I actually got a full sized foot locker into and back out of the trunk with no digs or scratches.

At 16 years / 140k+ the tranny was still in great shape. At 13 years I burned out three cylinders driving too fast keeping up in rush hour traffic on the local interstate loop and had to have that fixed. Only other repair it ever needed was one wheel cylinder. The rest was just regular maintenance.

Rust was the killer demon. At the end the rear quarter panels were almost all Bondo and spray paint. Knowing now what I’ve learned reading this forum, I shudder to think how rusted the frame was. :slight_smile:

That have read " … a very functional trunk …" LOL

Got my license at 17 in NJ in 1965. First car was a baby blue '61 Mercury convertible. The 352 V8 was kind of a doggy motor in this heavy car, but it looked good.

My first car was a1947 Pontiac I purchased in 1962 for $75. I was a new college graduate and needed a car to get to grad school 350 miles from home… It was a Streamliner fastback 2 door, black with a flathead 6 cylinder engine…

Literally, my first car was a 1981 Ford Courier pickup truck, but I only had it for a few months, really I consider my first car to be my 1987 Chevy Chevette, I explored up & down most of the east coast in that car.

Got the Courier as a hand me down from my father. It was BADLY rusted. Found a way to have it fixed & painted cheaply ($500) by having a local vo-tech high school body shop program fix & paint it as a project car, so it took them the whole semester to do the job. Afterwards, it had all kinds of electrical glitches, fuses kept blowing, headlights would fail at random. They had removed the grille, lights, etc to do the painting and I think they put it back together wrong. But it LOOKED beautiful. Drove it about 3 months and blew a hose on the highway and overheated the engine. Mechanic said the compression was about half what it should be after that and told me the piston rings “might” be melted, could run another week, could run another 5years. I knew I wanted to spend my time behind the wheel and not underneath it, so I gave up and traded it in on the used Chevette. $2,400 cash + $911.xx they credited me on trade-in.

P.S.- Since I kept the paperwork, I still had the VIN many years later when I had a 30 day Carfax subscription, looked it up “just for fun” and found out it ended up in South Carolina at least 3 years after I got rid of it.

My first car was from my grandfather, a 64 Pontiac Tempest 2 door post coupe. 215 cid straight 6 with a powerglide. It couldn’t spin the tires on wet pavement but you could keep it running with a screwdriver and a piece of sandpaper. The points would arc over and prevent it starting. Uncrew the distributor cap and sand them and you had a week to replace them before it wouldn’t start again. 9 months later it would start all over again. Had rust in all the regular places but had a huge trunk and would fit 6 adults or 8 high school kids, 12 if they were friendly.

From the responses so far I conclude that the first car was always special regardless of its age, reliability or appearance.

Once out of school I had several company cars, one of the nicest ones was a 1962 Pontiac Catalina 2 door hardtop with the “big six” engine. At that time I played tennis in an upscale neighborhood and ended up dating a girl just out of high school with a 1962 T Bird as a graduation present from her parents. She did not really appreciate the car; her dad had a Lincoln and she was used to luxury.

I still would recommend parents to buy their kids a used econobox as a first car to have them appreciate better later on.

my first car was a sweet 1966 Plymouth fury. nothing in the world sound sweeter than a finely tune Plymouth.

what I really want now is a 1927 ford model T just to drive around town.

I’ve been looking 'round for Model T’s for sale. One of the T experts told me the frame underpinnings become problematic at this age, and usually something drastic like a complete under-frame replacement with a new aftermarket versions becomes necessary. He said this isn’t true for the Model A, which is why Model A’s tend to be more commonplace as drive-'round-town cars.

You won’t be surprised to hear that my first car was a Fairlane (1967, not a 500 but with the classic 289 V8). It was a real piece of junk, had about 100K hard miles on it, and had previously served as a field car, but my dad didn’t think we should pay more that $100 for a first car. The quart of oil it burned every 50-100 miles inspired us to check the valve seals–when we replaced the three that were completely missing, the consumption improved quite a bit.
She got her name, Lucy, from the sound the front suspension made when stopping. The creaking sounded just like Lucille Ball shouting for her husband in the show (“Rickey!!”).
I had more adventures in that car than I can describe here–but as you said, Docnick, it was a special car. Having your own wheels gives you freedom, and I drove that car a lot (and it broke down a lot). Thanks for bringing back the memories.

My first car was a 1961 VW Beetle. It was used, dirt cheap, and I recouped the purchase price a year later when I left for the Air Force. I don’t consider it special in any sense of the word. It was just a HS beater, nothing more.