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Your first car

I thought it would be fun to hear stories about everyone’s first car. I know I will never forget mine. It was a 1990 Ford Crown Victoria I bought at a state auction in 1997. I assume it was an old cop car. I took this car on a road trip with some friends from Minnesota to California to New York City and back to Minnesota. What can I say, I was young and foolish. The transmission went out in Albequerque and I had it rebuilt. I poured tons of money into this car because it was my first and I couldn’t bear to part with it. Finally, one winter morning I went outside, started it, and then went inside to wait for it to warm up. It caught on fire. Luckily, some neighbors noticed and called the Fire Department. There must have been one close by because when I came back outside 15 minutes later, my beloved car was a smoldering heap.

My first car was a 1965 Sunbeam IMP. It was a dealer demo. Got 305 - 45 mpg. total weight was 1,200 lbs. It even had a hand crank available. It was a four passenger hatch back with rear engine, water cooled. Top speed about 70 mph with a 1200cc engine. Easy to service, only three real problems with it. A fire resulting from a fuel line break. That was an US made fuel line. Next was a broken valve that occurred when a Greyhound bus it me on the freeway. Finally the time I got gas at a station that had a leak and pumped five gallons of water and one gallon of gas into my 7 gallon tank.

I sold that car to an employee at about 150,000 miles and within a week he arrived at work to thank me for that car. He had fallen asleep on the freeway and ran into a parked Chev Impala parked on the side of the exit ramp. He only had a few scratches, seat belts work and all the crumple zone in the front helped. The gas tank was shoved under the car.

1967 Porsche 911 S.


1968 Dodge van. Bought used in 1973. A long wheel base, windowed van with three rear bench seats.
These are my high school years, no money so the fix-ups are with scavenged items.
The van is brown and I’m going to take out the rear seats and put in carpet and curtains. ( begin laughing here ) The purple curtains are fabric tailings from mom’s sewing room. The carpet I found…is red.

The carpet is stapled over padding to plywood which is in two pieces split lengthwise to the van. You can fold one half over top of the other and slide out the carpet assembly for the hauling of all my rock band gear, then put the carpet back in again easily.

This van is the flat-front kind with the engine dog-house between the seats. Perfect positioning to seat the girlfriend right beside me. Whom, by the way, I married in 1975 and we are still married to this day :slight_smile:

The only major mechanical breakdown ? The steering column shaft (not the rag joint) sheared one inch above the steering gear ! Luckily I was stopped, pre-turning the wheel preparing to pull out from a driveway into the street, SNAP-SPINNNN !

My first car was a 1948 Chevrolet “Stylemaster DeLuxe” 4 door, in a mean metallic green. It had been repainted from the original plain green. Accessories included an oil filter, ashtrays front and rear, passenger side sun visor, heater and defroster (options in those days), and a block heater.

I bought it off a classmate in college (for $100) who was taking flying lessons and needed some quick cash. The car had 68,000 miles on it and I kept it till 1962 and over 100,000 miles, after starting my first job. Then gave it to my kid brother who was in teacher’s college. He drove it another 4 years.

I did the minimal number of repairs, saving my cash for more important things like dates. A friend of mine had a service station, so I did a ring and valve job over the summer holidays. Other repairs incuded rad hoses, new thermostat, re-attach back fender which fell off, new battery, re-build generator, rebuilt carburetor ($17.95 at Western Auto),replaced back leaf spring which snapped off (corrosion).

I spent a total of about $600 on maintenance repairs and tires over the 4 years I owned it.

It had a powerful heater, and one of my dates referred to it as “the heater with the car attached”.

1961 VW Beetle, blue with a racing stripe over the top. It had a tubular steel type bumper and looked like a rolling football helmet.

My first car was a 1947 Pontiac that I purchased in 1961 for $75. It used a quart of oil about every 200-250 miles, had a cracked engine block around one of the valve seats (flat head 6 cylinder engine), and the cluster gear was worn so it made quite a bit of noise in first gear. I “repaired” the engine with K & W seal (it held as long as I owned the car), bought re-refined oil for 10 cents a quart, and shifted to second gear as quickly as I could when taking off from a stop. The old Pontiac did its job in making the 350 mile trip from my house to the university where I attended graduate school. The fast back body was in excellent shape inside and out. I rubbed out the finish and it looked like new. My biggest mistake was not selling it just after I cleaned it up–I was offered $150. It was after that when I discovered the cracked engine block.

1971 Dodge Charger SE, a really beautiful-looking car (at least by the standards of the day) in a bright electric blue with a black “canopy” vinyl top. The canopy top was Dodge’s version of the “basket handle” roof on the '56 Rambler Rebel. The rear portion of the roof was the same color as the body, and the relatively small front portion of the roof was black vinyl. All told, a very nice styling job.

It handled decently, by the standards of the day, but the brakes were…pathetically bad. While I owned it, I did almost all of the maintenance myself, and I converted the ignition to a transistorized set-up.

Some people apparently thought that the “hide-away headlights” were a great idea, but I thought that they were really lame. While the headlights were on, I simply unplugged the electrical connector for the motor that worked the doors covering the headlights, and–voila–the headlight doors stayed open after that.

The interior was black leather buckets in front with a black leather bench seat in the rear. The engine was just the 318 V-8, but since the best mileage that I could muster on that car was 16 mpg on the highway on a long trip, I did not regret the small V-8. The car was essentially trouble-free for the 3 years that I owned it, and I only got rid of it because of the poor gas mileage, coupled with the first gas supply “crisis”.

Unfortunately, I traded this sexy and trouble-free '71 Charger for a '74 Volvo, which turned out to be the absolute worst car that I ever owned!

1969 Dodge Dart, pea green color

1974 Ford F-100. It was older than I was.

1967 Pontiac Catalina…the only car I wish I still had.

A 1958 Thunderbird with a 352/4 Barrel/Automatic transmission. Liked the car originally but it was a real lead sled that got old quick. Within a month I wanted to get rid of it and while going down the road one day about 30 MPH the rear axle snapped in half right near the carrier so I now had an excuse to be rid of it.

She was unloaded and replaced with a '59 Impala 2 DR HT; black with a complete Day Glo orange interior. Wished I still had the Chevy although on a sunny day the orange interior (steel dash, headliner, seats, doors, and all) was a bit blinding.

I was a twenty year old Marine in 1968 when I bought a new Z28. After two clutches and a set of tires in 16,000 miles and one point from losing my license I sold it and got a 64 VW. The bug saved my butt - wouldn?t go over 72mph.

'64 Sunbeam Imp.

More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

My first car was a 1971 Datsun 510 wagon. I bought it with 111K miles on it in 1977.
I finally sold it in the mid 80’s with 213K miles on it.

1961 Oldsmobile dynamic 88. 396 engine if I recall correctly. Had to share it with my sister and had many stops to put $0.50 worth of gas in, nearly a gallon and a half. I believe it had a steel dashboard, as I remember my second car thinking what a good idea to have a padded dash.

1976 Trans Am with a 455 out of a 72. Bright yellow, insane stereo system and quicker than most cars out there when I bought it in 91. I bought it from a neighbor who was sick and could no longer drive. I don’t know the value of the car when I bought it, but it was in great shape and I paid $2,500 for it.

Not sure what my parents were thinking letting me buy that; if I saw a young kid driving that car today I’d just shake my head and laugh.