First car memories still fresh
May 14, 2010
As a red-blooded American male I have no problem recalling the vehicles I’ve owned in my lifetime.
Recently, as a part of an exercise in a Bible study, the class was asked to tell everyone what vehicle they first drove. The guys all quickly named off their first car, some of the girls were a little fuzzy on make and model but most recalled the color and the number of doors.
I had no trouble recalling my 1968 Ford Fairlane 500 Fastback. But then I thought, no, that wasn’t the first vehicle I drove. That could have been steering granddad’s 1959 Chevrolet Apache stepside pickup or dad’s green 1963 Ford stepside.
I wasn’t licensed at the time but I even drove a 1967 Chevy pickup with both sides of the bed bashed in to school for a month or two before I got my own car.
I had been looking for just the right car for months but it was my dad who located it first. It was dark green and it cost me $800 in 1974. I had saved up enough paper route money to pay cash for it.
Being a mid-size two-door, my folks called it a beer can because it was smaller than what they drove. I loved that car. It had the 302 engine so it wasn’t fast enough to win a race but that didn’t stop me from trying.
The only performance equipment that had been added to the car was a glass-pack muffler and white-letter steel belted radial tires. I had dreams of how that car could have been fixed up but somehow I just never got around to doing it.
I believe I sold it about four years later for the same $800 I had originally invested. I think I can probably tell you the year model, color and pretty close to what I paid for every single car or pickup I’ve owned.
I like buying used vehicles and I’ve bought and sold close to 20 of them. I’ve only regretted owning a couple of those vehicles. A 1982 Chevy Citation was one of those vehicles. Gasoline prices had been going up and a peppy little front-wheel drive six-cylinder sounded like a great idea.
I was buying the car the owner of the Chevy dealership had driven as a demonstrator so I thought, how could I go wrong? It was nearly 20 years before I could bring myself to buy another front-wheel drive vehicle.
Sadly the last 20 years of automotive history have been largely about homogenization. All the cars look alike, most of them have four-cylinder engines and now they’re even making hybrid electric cars.
My generation participated in the debate of which car had the most power and greatest looks.
Future generations I guess will brag to their grandchildren that they drove a car that blew everyone else away on gas mileage.