Column: Remembering Your First Car

By Tim Suddard
Aug 6, 2021 | Ford, Shelby, Mustang, Thunderbird, Columns | Posted in Columns | From the Nov. 2020 issue | Never miss an article

For me, it was a 1967 Mustang fastback. I was 15 and didn’t even have a learner’s permit, yet I was still obsessed with owning a car. 

I remember the whole deal like it happened yesterday. My dad’s best friend owned a junkyard just half a mile up Route 28 from the family Ford dealership. If I wasn’t at the dealership, I was at Robertson’s Auto Salvage, playing, hunting and scavenging. 

At the time, they had a program where they were auctioning repairable wrecks. I was constantly looking for my first car. 

One bright day, they received both a 1957 Thunderbird and a 1967 Mustang. This was in the summer of 1975, and both arrived there simply for the crime of being old, worn-out cars. Neither one had any real damage.

I debated back and forth between that T-bird and that Mustang. I finally decided that the Mustang had more sporting pretensions. It would be my first car.

I worked the deal around and around in my head and decided that my bid would be $102.02. This seemingly arbitrary number was carefully calculated: My bold bid would beat the guy bidding $100 as well as the rest of the competition trying to do the same. 

I went home and presented this whole plan to my dad. At that point, all hell broke loose. He screamed that I was way too young to own a car and there was no way in hell that he was going to let that deal go down. 

More fighting and screaming volleyed from my side, and then, finally, my mom broke in and told my dad that there were worse things that a 15-year-old could be doing than fixing up an old Mustang. He relented. I’d later learn that my dad called his buddy at the yard and made sure that I had the winning bid. 

I sold the car less than a year later for $800 to pursue my serial restoration habit. I replaced it with another, better ’67 Mustang.

I would love to know where that first Mustang is today. I never saw it again.

Sometimes we do get that second chance, though. In 1997, the fourth car that I ever owned—a 1966 Shelby GT350—came up for sale. The 19-year-old version of me spent a summer fixing up that car. 

The seller and I discussed prices and couldn’t reach a deal: He wanted $21,000, and I was firm at $19,000. I could argue that with two young kids, the timing just wasn’t right.

But there was more to it than that. Having been the guy who built that car, I knew what was wrong with it. I knew that it once had an automatic transmission—because I was the one who converted it to the incorrect Top Loader four-speed box. I also knew the location of every blemish and rust spot and how a 19-year-old kid had fixed them. 

If this wasn’t my old car, would those issues have bothered me? Maybe ignorance is bliss. Maybe it’s all about the devil you know versus the one you don’t.

My son recently bought back his first car, the French Blue Triumph Spitfire that we featured on the March 2008 cover of our sister magazine, Classic Motorsports. The cover blurb asked if car restoration was so easy that a kid could do it. Tom, at the time, was just 12 years old.

Interestingly, this Spitfire was also the first car of one of our readers. When he couldn’t care for it any longer, we bought it—but with the promise that should we ever tire of it, the seller would have first rights of refusal. 

A few years later, Tom lost interest in the Spitfire and became totally engrossed in an E30-chassis BMW. Knowing that we would probably regret the decision, we sold back the Spitfire. 

I knew that the Spitfire’s owner had been sick, and when his wife called us recently, I feared the worst. I was right: He had passed away and left instructions that we be offered the car before anyone else.

I talked it over with my son and we decided that, yes, we wanted that car back. We made her a reasonable offer, and my son was lucky enough to get his first car back. My first Mustang, however, has still not been found.

As I continue to tear through the world’s supply of forlorn sports cars, I think back to all of those I have owned. Some I miss. Some are best left in the past. 

How about you: Which ones do you miss, and which ones would you like to enjoy again?

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'63 Austin Healey Sprite. I was 9, and since I could talk, I'd asked for money every single Christmas and birthday because "I'm saving up for a car." The car was stuck in two gears, had a terrible paint job the color and texture of an orange peel. We towed it home, and my Dad gave the shifter a Fonzie with the palm of his hand. Fixed.

It looked like a rattier, more orange version of this:

Let's be honest. It was Dad's car, and he commuted in it, but he was good enough to humor me. 

rattfink81 Reader
12/24/20 8:58 a.m.

71 super beetle with no engine, I was 14 and only had a small grasp of the basics so while I messed with it for a year I never put a engine in it and sold it. First running car was a 72 Ford maverick, straight 6 and auto. 

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/24/20 9:07 a.m.

70 Plymouth duster. Learned a LOT about life and mechanicing with the car. Dated all my girlfriends and eventually my wife in it. Learned to drive, paint,  weld, etc.. dad pulled it from a south Carolina trailer park when i was 14.

Still have it, three restorations later!

BenB (Forum Supporter)
BenB (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/24/20 9:14 a.m.

Mine was a '71 MGB GT that my dad had bought a few years earlier as a commuter car and had never had the time to sell it when he no longer needed it. Sadly, I totaled it about 6 months later. Even more sadly, I used the insurance money to buy a TR7.

bobzilla MegaDork
12/24/20 9:17 a.m.

1980 Buick Park Ave Diesel. Injector pump died two weeks before I got my license. Back then (91) autozones and advance werent around for cheap parts and NAPA wanted $450 for it. I didn't make $450 in a summer so the car sat for 8 years and I finally sold it for more than I paid for it ($150 paid, sold it for $200).

Feedyurhed UltraDork
12/24/20 9:23 a.m.

1971 Dodge Challenger small block. Thought I was king of the road until I got dusted by every big block in town. Michigan winters gradually reclaimed it. Loved that car. Still miss it. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/24/20 9:26 a.m.

1990 Miata. Still have it, it's right outside the shop I'm sitting in at the moment.

My peer group wasn't the sort to get a car at 16. I got the Miata when I was in university at 21 or so, and I think only one other friend had a car at the time. Not because we didn't want them, but we didn't need them for our lifestyle and they're expensive. An inheritance from my grandfather paid for half of it and made it possible.

I started tweaking that car and building my own parts for it and things kinda got out of control. Here I am, 28 years later (almost exactly, I bought it on Jan 3, I think) and I have not progressed in life. I'm still tweaking that car and building my own parts for it.

Carson SuperDork
12/24/20 9:31 a.m.

The story of my first car is how I was introduced to y'all. 

In 2001, I was 14 and desperate for a Chevy Nova. I was a Hot Rod and Car Craft junky. All I ever read about was American muscle and V8s. Even then, I was very frugal and thought a Nova was both cool and affordable and ticked most of the boxes. I'd talk about Novas all the time at my after-school job. A co-worker told me his mom had a Nova and she was looking to get rid of, name my price.

It was a '75, 4-door, avocado green and white. LN Custom trim. The opposite end of the Nova spectrum from what I really wanted, a '68-'72 2-door, but the idea of owning my own car overwhelmed my 14-year old mind and I bought it. It was a Nova and a V8, at least. It had the base, 1-year only 262 cu in V8 (I think it was also available in California-only Monzas and Checker Cabs), the paint was chalky and would come off on your clothes and hands, but otherwise it was in good shape and MINE. I washed, cleaned, polished, gave the engine a basic tune, and added an AutoZone dress up kit and a set of Camaro wheels with trim rings ahead of getting to drive it when I got my permit at 15.

I drove it for a while, still loving it, but a little disappointed it wasn't a '68-'72 that I'd see everywhere in Hot Rod and Car Craft. No one was building 4th generation GM X-bodies, especially not 4-doors.

One day I was strolling the magazine aisle at the grocery store and spotted GRM with a feature on the $2004 Challenge. My frugality was intrigued and I bought it.

In it, I saw someone called Andrew Nelson and a black, 4-door Nova running the mythical 10-second 1/4 mile. WHAT?! 

I've been hooked on GRM since, lurked the forum a bit and joined up a couple years after that.

Now I miss it and really like the look of that generation Nova.

jharry3 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/24/20 9:45 a.m.

My first car was a '66 Mustang notch back.  It was actually my 1st cousin's first car, his daddy gave it to him in 1967. It was originally dark green.  He wrecked it.  For some reason my uncle had it repaired and repainted yellow, then gave it to his sister.  She drove it for a while, actually used to give me a ride to school in it.  Then someone stole it, took the wheels and dropped it on the ground, cracking two of the brake drums.   At this point my uncle had enough and sold it "as is" to my dad for $200 in 1973.    I did a brake job on it and had a car.   

It was a 3 speed with the 200 cubic inch in line 6.  In 1976 I converted it to v-8 brakes and rear axle, dropped in a built 289 and 4 speed toploader.    Ye Haw! I had the fastest car of all my friends.   I had it for about 1.5 years then some troll rear-ended me at a stoplight, bending the chassis, so that was the end of the mustang for me, I took out all the go fast parts like the engine, sway bars, exhaust, and transmission, and gave it to a friend.    I was about 18, car had the old seats, so no head rest.  I guess my youth saved me from whiplash or worse.  Today that hit would probably kill me.

Friend rebuilt it again and drove it for several years after that.

Mazdax605 PowerDork
12/24/20 9:45 a.m.

My first car was a 72 Chevy Nova 2-door. Inline-6 250 cu in, three-on-the-tree. Single bbl carb. Paint that had the same luster as asphalt. Rusted out rear quarters. I loved it at the time, but looking back on it the car was terrible.

G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter)
G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/24/20 10:33 a.m.

My first car was an '84 Cutlass Supreme Brougham sedan with a Canadian-spec factory-order LG4 305 4bbl and a THM350. Fixed it up a bit, then my parents moved across the country and I gave it to a mutual friend whose Focus was totaled by an uninsured motorist. He was still daily driving it until this year.

jimbbski SuperDork
12/24/20 10:47 a.m.

I drove a hand-me-down '66 Ford Custom at first but I started saving up for my  own first car when I got my first job bagging groceries. Once I saved up enough I went down to both my local Ford & Mercury dealers in 1974 to look at the then new Mustang II and the Capri. It didn't take long to figure out that the Capri was the car I wanted.  I found a Capri on the lot and made the buy and drove home a Miami Blue Met. W/black interior 2.8L V6 4 sp. Capri.  


I sold it in 1986 with the car changing hands a couple of more times. A friend ended up with it but when rust overwhelmed the car so he bought a rust free body and transfered over most of the interior and all of the drivetrain. He later sold it to another friend of mine who still owns it today! So some of my first car is still on the road!

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/24/20 11:01 a.m.


1966 VW Bus.

There sure were a lot of good times in that thing, but I can't share them on a public forum!!


Suffice it to say that I made sure my daughters understood that they were never allowed to date anyone driving a van of any kind!

Jay_W SuperDork
12/24/20 11:07 a.m.

I was 18, and the car was a '69 Datsun 510. Red and white like a pack of marlboros, box flares, l18, lopey cam, a pair of 44mm Mikunis, header, 5speed, obnoxious as hell and a total laugh riot. That car taught me all about brake fade...

parker Reader
12/24/20 12:02 p.m.

'64 Jeep CJ-5.  Worked summers since I was 12 mowing highway right-of-ways for my grandfather.  Got the Jeep at 15, license at 16.  Then I learned about cornering.  Sold the Jeep and got a '76 MG Midget at 17.  Moved to a 240Z at 19, wish I still had the Z.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/24/20 12:33 p.m.

As a teenager I was much more interested in computers than in cars, so I didn't get my first one until my senior year of college when I was 22.  That was my mom's old car, an '87 Taurus wagon with the 3.0L Vulcan motor.  No pictures of it, I owned it for a year or so and then after graduating and getting a real job I traded it in on my '95 Probe GT.

oldeskewltoy UberDork
12/24/20 12:38 p.m.

Impressed by your Shelby story... 1997 and "only" $20k......  I sold my restored 1970 SCJ Mach1 for $19k back in 94.....


How about you: Which ones do you miss, and which ones would you like to enjoy again?


SFM6S1299 - "my" 1966 GT350-H


A quick blurb on my first car...  I got it when I was 16 (NJ law was 17 for license), it was a 1964 Volvo 1800S - B18B 108cid, 108hp, it had overdrive... and I stuffed the nose into another car... - it got scrapped crying

racerdave600 UltraDork
12/24/20 1:26 p.m.

My first car was a '67 Jeepster Commando.  I traded a Civil War era cannon for it, but that's another story.  I kept it for a couple of years before selling it and buying a '67 XR7 GT Cougar with a big block and 4 speed.  

mainlandboy Reader
12/24/20 1:50 p.m.

When I was 16, I bought a 1978 Toyota Corolla off my dad, who had bought it brand new. It was originally silver, but I had it painted black before I put some aftermarket wheels on it and lowered it. I also put a few different stereo systems in it over the years. Here it is, during its hayday:

ZOO (Forum Supporter)
ZOO (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/24/20 2:11 p.m.

In my mind there is a distinction between “first car” and “first good car”.  The “first car” I owned was a 1979 Honda Civic 1200 sedan.  It burned more oil than gas . . . and was definitely not suited for any of the motorsports activities I wanted to participate in.  

The “first good car” was a 1982 VW Rabbit with the 1.7   It was “good” because it was mostly rust free and I could autocross it and lap it   It wasn’t particularly “good” at either of those things . . . But at least I was on track   


Olemiss540 Reader
12/24/20 2:24 p.m.

Why do I feel sooooo young when I ready all of your posts? 


You can call me baby Olemiss.

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/24/20 2:34 p.m.

In reply to ZOO (Forum Supporter) :

My first real car was a 1953 MGTD    Here it is 58 years later.  

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/24/20 2:40 p.m.

'77 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT.  Got it while I was in college, but it broke down enough that it was "replaced" before I graduated.  Kept it, though, until we got the GTV in '96.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/24/20 2:47 p.m.

Thanks for that Tim. Brought back memories of my first couple cars. 

Tom1200 Dork
12/24/20 3:06 p.m.

In rode motorcycles until I was about 21 and then I bought a 67 Baja Bug. We had loads of fun with that car. We used it to go to remote places to spectator at the Mint 400 and other desert races as well. It was slow and noisy had no heat but it was fun.

sir_mike New Reader
12/24/20 6:02 p.m.

Still have my first car....1968 Ford Cortina GT....bought new 9/68....kind of dates me.Drive her on nice weekends as much as possible.Not stock but all mods are period correct.52yrs and still love her.

L5wolvesf HalfDork
12/24/20 6:03 p.m.

I got my first car in 1974; a white 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 283 Auto, which was in very good shape. It belonged to my grandfather and he could no longer drive. Within an hour of getting the keys I had my first ticket (of many) - speeding on Beverly Glenn just north of Sunset Blvd.


I po'd my gp and father by modifying it so I could cruise and street race it on Van Nuys Blvd. It went on a diet that removed about 500 lbs.


Within the first few months I had a Traco Engineering 327 (with an Offenhauser 3x2 intake) in it. Outwardly it looked pretty much stock and I would choose off Camaros for $50 a run. They thought I was just a heavy old grandpa’s car. Heh, heh, heh.


We would take my winnings and eat at the Bob’s Big Boy Drive In (gone now). After the cruise my g/f and I would drive up to Mulholland Dr. and “watch the submarine races”. Them was the good ole days.

eastpark HalfDork
12/24/20 6:04 p.m.

Mine was a 1966 Mercury Cyclone GT. I got it about 3 months before getting my license. What a rust bucket, but I wish I still had it.
After that I had a 1973 Beetle, I wish I still had that too.

Then, in 1982, I got a 1980 Toyota 4WD pickup, I wish I had that too - hey, I see a trend here....

keithedwards Reader
12/24/20 7:38 p.m.

My first real car was a 1967 Triumph TR4A, solid axle. Bought it in 1973, rebuilt the engine in 1975, got it painted in 1978. Put 90k miles on it. Sold it in 2015. I hated to see it go...

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/24/20 9:03 p.m.

Same deal as Tim's Shelby. This was my (local) dream car, but I soon knew where every single flaw was, and there were many.


Twenty-something years later, I owned a much better one that was still a very flawed vehicle.

They're great looking cars, but they're not very good cars.

NOT A TA SuperDork
12/24/20 9:51 p.m.

My first street car was a '68 Camaro that had the Yenko look with Pontiac rallye II wheels and blacked out tail panel. I babied it and was going to keep it forever. Put it up on blocks inside during winters and what not. Rode my motorcycle a lot and always had another car or two and/or truck for work stuff, winters etc. The Camaro was stolen while I was at college. 

People would cringe today but I used the '70 Challenger in the pic below to tow my landscaping trailer and on snow days. I got my street license in '74 and at the time there was a gas shortage so a lot of the responsible "adults" were offing 2-10 year old muscle car era cars cheap and buying small economy cars.  Almost all of the guys around my age had their choice of Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelles, AMXs, GTXs, Scramblers, and other cool cars for low dollars. I bought the Camaro for $800.00.


maj75 (Forum Supporter)
maj75 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
12/25/20 11:03 a.m.

1968 Pontiac GTO.  It was 1973 and it was at the used car lot of the Pontiac dealership where I had a summer job.  I washed that car 3-4 times a week.  I used to sit in it and imagine driving it.  It sat on the lot all summer.  Nobody wanted a "gas hog."  That fall, I came home from school and there it was in our drive-way.  It was the second car in the family and Dad said it was for Mom to drive.  The only extravagant purchase he ever made.  Mom never drove the car and I started modifying it right away.  If any maintenance was required, I'd get a quote from the service station.  My dad would give me the money and I'd use that plus my own money and do the work myself.  He drove it back from college after dropping me off.  He didn't pay attention to the temp gauge (wasn't a car guy and couldn't change a lightbulb). I got a rebuilt motor out of that. I rebuilt the tranny, got intake, cam, carb, headers and full exhaust.  Car ran awesome for years.  Did some street racing.  Blew the motor when I was in college.  He sold the car to a guy I knew without telling me.  He got $250 dollars which he thought was "really great" for a car that didn't run...

Iusedtobefast Reader
12/25/20 11:20 a.m.

1974 Chevy nova, inline 6, auto, drum brakes all around. Parents bought it for me for $350. Sold it a couple years later with a slipping trans for $300. Wish I had it today, it was wonderfully horrible and it was freedom...

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/25/20 12:54 p.m.

There's quite a few of these...

'75 Nova bought from my much-missed friend Ray for $100 when I was 19. 250 six, three on the tree, obtained with an interior full of the smashed passenger window and a slipping clutch. Covered in bicycle company stickers all over.

Fixed the main issues, drove it too fast for a while, never got the three on the tree linkage totally dialed in. Traded it back to Ray for a pair of early Rock Shox, and then bought his dad's '80 Rabbit, which was the first car I ever autocrossed.

914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/25/20 1:16 p.m.

My father wouldn't let me buy a car until I had insurance money first, guess my older brother burned him on a payment.  I had $75 left about the same time a neighbor was selling a 1959 Anglia Prefect for $70. 

That lasted only a few weeks when the lower ball joint gave up and no parts suppliers or garages even knew what it was let along have parts!  I bought a 1963 Galaxie convertible with a 390 4-speed.  I like that one a lot.

Not the same car but mine had the same wheels with a black tonneau and roof.  Whish I had it now!

snailmont5oh Dork
12/25/20 1:39 p.m.

We were a Ford family, and my mom sold Fords. My dad had several old Fords, including a '50 business coupe, that he took to car shows. Mom was a T-Bird girl from day one. She still had her first car, a '55. It was more hole than car,  but it was all there, and all original.  They had bought my brother a '75 Gran Torino Sport for a show car, so one day shortly after I turned 15 (in '87) Mom asked me what I wanted to drive.

My answer was simple: "Anything [FoMoCo] from '55 to about '73, and anything cool from about '83 to now.  First, she came up with a '77 Granada, green with a white quarter vinyl top, and Keystone Classic wheels, 302/auto.  Sounded cool to me. She decided it was too fast. 

Fast forward a couple of months, and she says, "What do you think of a '79 Fairmont 2-door sedan..." "Not much."  "...with a 302 and a 4-speed?" "When can we go get it?" "He wants too much for it. We'll wait for him to come down some."  We waited until he came down from $1200 to $800, and we went and looked at it. We got it for $650, and we grossly overpaid. It was a rust bucket with a dead miss, but according to Ford, they only made 54 of them, and they were all special ordered. I found out later from a lady that bought one of the other ones that they tried to talk you out of it, mostly because they wanted to sell you a car today, not in 6 months when they got it in. She had to threaten to walk out before they would just order the damn car. 

I still have it. It needs a complete restoration, but I still have it. 

djsilver (Forum Supporter)
djsilver (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/25/20 2:32 p.m.

1966 Renault Dauphine.  Dad paid $35 and the seller pulled it to the house behind his van.  We overhauled the engine and it was easy, as the engine came with wet sleeves.  Factory Michelin 4x15 tires were $45 each so we bought (4) VW 5x15 recaps for $44 installed.  Sold it for $350 right after the first oil embargo and could have gotten twice that. 

iceracer MegaDork
12/25/20 2:40 p.m.

'47 Plymouth.   Did two 1700 mile trips , plus DD.

Learned to run it 1 qt. low on oil.   Didn't use any more.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
12/25/20 6:48 p.m.

I had a 1964 Buick Skylark 2dr hard top. Looked just like this, but with hubcaps instead of the Buick Road Wheels:

Man, that was a pretty car. Mine had the Fireball 225ci V6 and 2-speed Super Turbine 300 auto. Glacially slow, turned like the Queen Mary, and with the single reservoir master cylinder and drum brakes, it stopped like it, too. Had a lot of fun in that car, and got my hands dirty wrenching on it more than a few times. Mine had some rust that was beyond my skill level, otherwise I would have kept it. I tried tracking it down a few years after I sold it, but I couldn't find it. I'd love to find another one someday.

wake74 Reader
12/25/20 9:30 p.m.

My first car should be familiar to the GRM staff, a 1989 VW Fox, 4 Speed, 2 Door.  Bought the summer before my Sophomore year in college in like 1994.  Bought with 90k on it I think, and put about 30k trouble free miles on the next 3 years of college.  I don't recall doing anything to it other than replacing both front CV shafts. Lots and lots of "fun" memories in that little car......

karplus2 GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/25/20 9:59 p.m.

I was always super close with my Grandpa. When I turned 16 he gave me his Explorer because he decided to buy a new one. I had been saving for 3 years for a Fox Body Mustang. At first I was just happy to have a car as a 16 year old. As the years went on I fell in love with the thing. Now that Grandpa is gone I cherish it (even though it badly needs restored). I have so many great memories in that thing. Man I miss him.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/25/20 11:05 p.m.

I was given a 65 Corvair Corsa with the four carburetor 140 engine and a four speed when I was about 14. It had thrown a rod, and the deal was if I fixed it I could keep it. The only problem was that I had no knowledge, no mentor, and no garage. I made no headway on that.

Two years later, my dad handed me down my first actual driving car. It was a 1960 Plymouth suburban two door wagon. Special order with zero options. It had a 225 slant six, three on the column.

It had been beach driven (and stuck occasionally) at New Smyrna from new so the floorboards needed patching. I used aluminum sheet metal, pop rivets and roofing tar for where the spare tire fell out.  I fixed the floor mounted gas pedal with fiberglass, which lasted about two days before my buddy mashed it sideways. Second repair was marginally better. 

It was glacially slow, I actually got passed leaving a traffic light by a fully loaded gasoline powered school bus while trying to stay ahead of it.

it would fit my 9'4" longboard in the back with the tailgate closed, without having the nose of the board over the seat.

Same body style and color, different car. I'd love to have it back, but my dad junked it my first summer on the road racing trotters. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/26/20 6:56 a.m.

No pictures, but I had a Kia Stinger in the late 80s.


Not a car.  A freestyle bike.


It was lurid hot pink, and was a near perfect clone of a GT Performer, right down to the baloney-cut top tube.  Most Performer clones were cut straight, probably because it made for less wastage when making $89 department store bikes.

It came with 36 spoke wheels and god-awful wheel covers like a lot of bikes were starting to get.  The covers got ditched on assembly, and eventually the bike got Skyway-clone plastic mags, at which point the brakes never worked well ever again.


TheRX7Project HalfDork
12/26/20 7:35 a.m.

1969 Bradley GT kit car. We pulled it out of a field where it had sat for 15 or so years, for a measly $500. We got it running and driving, put a Weber progressive setup on it, and eventually put floors in it as well. I had a ton of fun in this car, and if given the opportunity I'd take it back in a heartbeat. It is what gave me my deep-rooted love for ACVWs. I wish I had never sold it, especially since I got a life lesson (don't let "friends" make payments).

Not a picture of my actual car, but mine was this same color (just faded from sitting in the field) and has the same aluminum slots on it.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/26/20 8:53 a.m.

My first car was the pinnacle of performance, quality, and luxury.  I say that because it was my first car.

In reality, it was a floppy pile of steaming poo, but it represented so much more than that.  I flipped the air cleaner cover to try to get more air in the VariJet, painted the side emblems gold, and put better speakers in the back deck.  Blew a headgasket street-racing a CRX.  2.8 liters and 125 hp of blistering FWD malaise.

Stock photo, but it was just like this one.  83 Chevy Celebrity.  We could never afford anything cool.  Dad was a teacher and mom was a substitute teacher/stay-at-home mom.

See the source image

zordak Reader
12/26/20 9:33 a.m.

My first car was a 1971 Simca 1204. Bought it in 1976. Beat the hell out of it. Out on the highway my foot was always on the floor.

LopRacer Dork
12/26/20 9:49 a.m.

When I was 12 I convinced Dad we should do a project together as my first car. After much deliberation about what to get jeep, custom van (yes it was the early 80's), something else?  I picked the VW Thing, and he actually found a pretty nice one for sale around 1983-84 We got it home and parked it in the garage and got busy doing other things. I played around with it a little but with no guidance I didn't get far.  My dad ended up having  to work more and didn't have as  much time as he thought. I had a hard time with school and had to really study and all of a sudden I was about to turn 16 and the car was still just sitting there. We got it out of moth balls, dad didn't have time to do it all and farmed out getting the carb redone by a local "expert: (one of several rebuilds I did and other "experts" did over it's time with me) Served me well for several years until I went off to college and it was not ideal for running back and forth across two states in the winter so it go put up for my sister (I thought) and I was put into a second hand CRX HF for the drive back and forth to school. My parents ended up selling it while I was at school unbekownst to me for a pittance to the same "expert" since they had let it fall into disuse and deemed it too unreliable for a teen girl to be out it at all hours. I was pissed to say the least and my sister got a nice "reliable" 1982 320i to drive from a local guy going away to college. I wish I still had it. I have looked out for it since but never seen it that I know of since.

I have old pictures some where but this is close to what it looked like.

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/26/20 10:00 a.m.

My first car was a 1986 Monte Carlo. I got it in 1992 when I was 16. I remember buying it from my fathers friends daughter. $3,000. Like all cars in that era in central NY it was starting to rust but it was pretty well kept. My god father owned a garage. I got my interest in cars from hanging out there. He let me keep it in one bay of his three bay shop for months to fix the rust and repaint. I was 16 and I didn't know enough to do this myself. He would stay after work every day and "help" me. By help I mean he did all of the hard stuff! He was an amazing guy, he died on April 26 of this year. I have missed him terribly ever since. I hope that I can pay his kindness forward. 

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/26/20 10:16 a.m.

Still have it, needs some love right now


Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
12/26/20 10:56 a.m.

My first car was a '64 Beetle.  It was passed down to me when my mother moved up to a '69 Beetle.  The '64 was purchased in '65 at a National Car Rental used lot.  Bright red.   In the lot was a Lotus Cortina for the same price;  $1,000.  I begged her to by the Cortina, she bought the bug.

When I got it in '69 I was working as a parts installer at a local EMPI dealer as one of my college jobs.  I immediately put wheel adapters on it, ford wheels and red line tires (recaps).  Bumpers came off, headers went on.   I commuted dozens of trips back and forth from FSU to Miami in it with wife and child.

It had oversize jugs, and a full flow oil filter/cooler system.

I won my first autocross class victory in it.  Rolled it twice that I remember (damn swing axles).  Could always buy another body for $100.  Painted it with a brush with orange Rust-o-leam.   It was a DD for maybe 7 years.  

I needed a truck, so it became a pickup truck for the last 3 years of its life.  I took all the running gear out from under it to build my first mid-engine autocross special, and gave the remains a nice burial at the landfill.

It's bones went on to win something like 50 FTDs.

Notice dented roof in this picture.

Brian(formerly neon4891)
Brian(formerly neon4891) MegaDork
12/26/20 11:09 a.m.

My "First" was dad's old truck that we never got back on the road after the engine died. '82 Ram he put back on the road in 93 and ran until it died in 97.  It's still in the yard. Similar story of unfulfilled plans to revive his old Suzuki as my first bike. 

Actual first car was dad's hand me down accord. I ran that thing ragged. Still miss the pop up headlights. 

Slippery (Forum Supporter)
Slippery (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/26/20 11:57 a.m.

I only owned motorcycles until I was about 18 and used my parents car when I needed. 

In '95 or so I bought my first car, 1988 Nissan 300ZX. Paid $2500, sold it a few months later for $4200 and bought a $2000 1988 Prelude. The Honda was years ahead in gas mileage and fit and finish. 

12/26/20 12:04 p.m.
G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter) said:

My first car was an '84 Cutlass Supreme Brougham sedan with a Canadian-spec factory-order LG4 305 4bbl and a THM350. Fixed it up a bit, then my parents moved across the country and I gave it to a mutual friend whose Focus was totaled by an uninsured motorist. He was still daily driving it until this year.

I always wondered how that story ended.  You were up against the rotted rear frame rail issue.

I see you are back in Ontario also.


First car. Was in 1976. Rusty crusty MG midget. No top of any kind. Have had an MG of some sort ever since.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/26/20 3:02 p.m.

My first car was a 1964 Ranchero that looked like this:

 I'd spent a few hundred hours helping dad build a house. He helped me restore the "red bomb" up to a point. It  had a built 302 with a toploader 4-speed. Didn't handle worth a damn. Couldn't get the power to the road without spin and wheel hop and it never got me laid. Had great times in the thing  till I totaled it while street racing. Best memories are loading it up with skateboarding buddies and the occasional hippie chick and cruising to the skateboard park with Van Halen's "Running with the Devil" blaring on the stereo. 


Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/26/20 8:45 p.m.

As a new driver in 2002 I had a nice crop of used, well depreciated, 10-15 year old Japanese cars to choose from if I spent my money right.  I spent nights building a spreadsheet to figure out how I could get the most bang for my buck - its a wonder I became an engineer.  What I found was a Nissan NX2000, the funkier version of the Sentra SE-R.  I bought one and my Dad drove it home.  I practiced driving a manual transmission in the backyard until I could make it off the hills at either end of my street.  And then once I could drive without stalling I drove around all night and missed dinner.  On thanksgiving.  

I rarely saw any when I had mine and now they are all but extinct.  I still love most cars of the era and I'm on track to own quite a few different offerings from the 80s and 90s.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
12/26/20 10:30 p.m.

Mine was a 1961 Pontiac Catalina four door sedan.  I bought it on New Years Day 1976 for $70.  The engine smoked like crazy, so after a couple years I swapped in a 389 tripower engine out of a 1964 GTO.  Unfortunately, the transmission was pretty weak as well, so after a few full throttle passes that GTO engine killed it altogether.

This is the only picture I have that's scanned and saved to my computer, it was sitting in my parent's driveway during a particularly snowy winter.  I parted it out soon after that.

dxman92 Dork
12/26/20 11:43 p.m.

Mine was an 87 Chevy Nova with a 3 speed automatic. Bought it in 2001 or so for $500. You could walk up a hill faster with passengers in it. Drove it for a year or less and sold it to get a Toyota pickup.


Ranger50 UltimaDork
12/27/20 11:33 a.m.

1980 Pinto. It was a $400, in 1992 money, special with a very poorly repaired drivers rear quarter, it was a couple of pails of bondo smeared on. Drove it until I killed it avoiding someone in a parking lot and killed the steering rack.

First vehicle I bought myself was another poorly repaired 2wd 5spd rcsb s10 with power brakes, a/c, and manual steering. That was "fun". Wish I could have kept it but that would have been a headache for the past 20 yrs...

DjGreggieP HalfDork
12/28/20 10:27 a.m.

I had 'owned' a few vehicles prior to my first 'real car', an hand me down 91 Jimmy that didn't shift out of first gear (that my brother sold for scrap), an 89 Blazer my buddy assisted in giving a tuneup that never ran again, and an 83 528e that was rusted badly, missing a driveshaft and wouldn't stay running,

My first real car is my 1999 Intrepid that I still have, and I've learnt a lot about wrenching in general with it. When I first bought the car I didn't even own a decent socket set yet! From basics like oil changes and bulbs to engine swaps and suspension repairs and now to bodywork I've learnt on this car. And still learning as I go!

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/28/20 8:58 p.m.

In reply to New York Nick :

My first car was also an 86 Monte Carlo that my dad and I bought in the summer of 92 when I was 16 and got my license.  It was a black SS that was very clean but had a few issues. I had wanted an SS since i first saw them in 83 and was beyond excited to have it.  i was also the only one of my friends to have a nice car so it got driven hard pretty much every night and weekend.  I still have most of it sitting in my garage waiting for that mythical someday when it will get put back together. 

vwfreek Reader
12/30/20 8:49 p.m.

When I was about 12 my family was visiting Lincoln, NE. There was a college parking lot with a few broken down cars, and one of them was a 1972 Cadillac Hearse. We tracked down the owner, and my brothers and I pooled our money together and bought it for $100. We put on a fan belt that bypassed the a/c compressor and it fired right up. My dad drove it home, the 472 got 13 mpg on the way back to WI.

30 years later, it still runs.

Vajingo Reader
12/31/20 2:59 p.m.

Oh... I remember fondly... it was 2001, she was from 1984. A four cylinder four speed camaro (cramit). She leaked so much oil I had to keep a quart with me just to get anywhere. Billowed like the Smoking Man from X files. Couldn't do a burnout. It was a regular weekend chore to revive the paint with rubbing compound and wax. All my peers would say "hey nice camaro!", but deep down... I wanted out. 

1981 Malibu Wagon. 

Exactly like this one. 

The Midsize Wagons of 1981 | The Daily Drive | Consumer Guide® The Daily  Drive | Consumer Guide®

My wife stuck it under the back of a truck. 

secretariata (Forum Supporter)
secretariata (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/31/20 8:48 p.m.

Gonna be sort of a jerk since this is still a security question for some web access.  Sue me...

1970's domestic turd with no power and an auto trans.  Bought for $100 from a coworker of my Dad.  Wouldn't top 35 mph on the drive home.  Almost didn't make it up the big hill in my neighborhood.  I was 15 and driving on a learner's permit with no adult "supervision" on trip home.  Dad was in law enforcement and right behind me, so I wasn't worried. Owned it for about 6 months.  Spent about $200 and a lot of time/labor fixing it up and sold it for $800 3 weeks after I got my license.  That started my HS career as a car flipper.  Probably owned 25 cars by the time I graduated.  Got stuck once because the DMV sent me a letter stating that if I sold another car that calendar year I would have to get a dealer's license.  Had to sit on the car I planned to sell that week for 3 months until the next year.  Graduated HS with a 2 year old car and a 10 year old truck paid for by my flipping efforts that started with that $100 POS.  Part of me wishes I still had that energy to look for deals and do flips.  Part of me is glad I don't have to... laugh

zot New Reader
1/1/21 12:23 p.m.

Not technically "my" first car, but I had driving rights to our least-used family car when I was a teenager - a Borgward Isabella.  Sorry, no picture.  Four-on-the-column . . . a Blaupunkt radio that spoiled my opinion of German technology by its inability to pick up even a local radio station. The car was great fun to 4-wheel drift around winding back roads I'd probably be afraid to drive at half that speed today.  One day I came home to find it had been replaced by a ford station wagon. Oh well!

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