Tell us about your first car

By Colin Wood
Dec 27, 2022 | First car, Discussion

Photograph Courtesy Acura

Do you remember your first car? What was it like?

Do you look back fondly on your first set of wheels, or are you glad it’s out of your life?

As always, bonus points if you have pictures to share.

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RevRico UltimaDork
12/27/22 10:00 a.m.

98 GMC Sonoma, single cab, regular bed, 4wd.

Biggest piece of E36 M3 ever, and I still question anyone that buys a Sonoma or S10 because of it. It's only redeeming qualities were coming with a toolbox and square tube tailgate. 

It ate tie rods and ends, got 12mpg, couldn't get out of its own way, had no seating room. 

Bought it for $5k, put 50k miles on it in 18 months, and had $6500 in repair bills during that time. 

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/27/22 10:19 a.m.

1987 Toyota Supra. Loved the car but it had too much rusty so I had to get rid of it. I miss that car to this day!

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/27/22 10:38 a.m.

1965 Mustang. The car that I learned to wrench on. 

Nothing fancy. The only option was AC. It was a 200-6 w/ a 3 speed manual. 

I worked with my uncle to repaint it, fix the rust on it. Did the head rebuild on it. Redid the entire interior on it. It was a great introduction to wrenching. I still have the original pony from the grill. I replaced it with one out of the junk yard. 

12/27/22 10:48 a.m.

98 Nissan Maxima 3.5 liter v6, black exterior and tan interior.

Bought it for 800 bucks in 2012 with the rear quarter panel ripped off. My neighbor welded on some sheet metal for me and painted it black to match the car.

Another neighbor gave me 18" chrome wheels that, at the time, I thought were SICK.

I replaced the EGR and belt tensioner assembly  and a couple other minor things that I was able to buy for cheap from the auto parts store I worked at and had that thing running like a dream! Surprisingly fast for a four-door sedan. 

Everything a 17 year old could need. 

nlevine GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/27/22 10:57 a.m.

The first car I bought for myself was a '75 BMW 2002 (bought in '87) - Malaga with a sunroof. If I knew then what I know now about these cars, I would have turned and run, but such is the arrogance of youth...

Rusty shock towers, a cooling system that imploded on its first long road trip, and just before I was going to take it in for an engine rebuild as it was consuming more oil than gas, the transmission lunched itself a block from home (reverse still sort of worked, so I made it back into the driveway). 

Made a half-hearted attempt to resurrect it, but eventually sold it off to somebody who literally dragged it away with a rope tied to his buddy's pickup truck (in Boston, no less)...

Iusedtobefast Reader
12/27/22 11:04 a.m.

1974 Chevy Nova, in-line 6, auto, drum brakes all around. Came with. Buick hubcaps. It was that 70's gold color. Put in an Audiovox stereo with cassette, glued the headliner back up, new exhaust. Drove the hell out of it til the trans started slipping. My parents bought it for me for $300. Sold it for $350. I miss that car...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/27/22 11:16 a.m.

1982 Accord sedan, blue over blue with a five-speed. (Bonus points for those who know where the image was taken.)

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
12/27/22 11:17 a.m.

My name above - bought new the summer after high school.  Put 100,000 miles on it in 5 years of going to college. 

L5wolvesf Dork
12/27/22 11:20 a.m.

1964 white Chevy Impala SS which had been my grandfather's. Got my first speeding ticket within 30 minutes of getting the keys. Put some big tires on the rear and cruised Van Nuys Blvd for years. Then watched 'submarine races' up on Mulholland.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/27/22 11:24 a.m.

And while in high school, for a little while my parents had three cars so I got to drive their 1978 Malibu Classic. It was also blue over blue. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/27/22 11:34 a.m.

1972 Monte Carlo, 350 quadrabog and THM350 with a bang-screech shift kit. Bought fall '83 with 123k, drove it the end of my Sr year of HS and through 7 years of undergrad. built a 383 for it in '89 at 213k, parted it out in '92 with 257k.

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
12/27/22 11:36 a.m.

1961 MGA Coupe. Not nearly as nice as this one. It cost me $900 cash. Old MGAs were cheap back in the 70s. They broke down a lot too.


Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
12/27/22 11:43 a.m.

This was my second car although I actually had both at the same time. A 1961 Mercedes 220Sb Fintail. It cost me all of $500, running. Remember when cool cars were cheap?


AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/27/22 11:54 a.m.

Pony Boy - 1985 535i. Bought it for myself my junior year in high school and drove it from then through college, driving it between Ohio and Florida multiple times. It was actually pretty rusty but cleaned up nice and taught me a ton about working on and maintaining a car. Way over paid for it at $3,200. I think my receipts totaled $12k in my ownership and sold it for $1,200. Worth every single cent. A guy in Columbus now owns it, put a 302 in it and rusted it out to look like one of the early versions of Mike Burrough's E28. 

He knows that I'd like to buy it if he ever decides to get rid of it. 

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
12/27/22 11:58 a.m.

this one. 70 duster, summer of 94 is when we drug it home. Learned to wrench and drive and date in it. learned to powershift. Learned to wreck it. Daily through college, then a full resto. Originally a 318/3 sp stick/3.23 posi car, was a 360/4 speed by the end of high school. Now a serious 360, 5 speed, 3.55 gears, etc.

wawazat SuperDork
12/27/22 12:01 p.m.

1974 Mustang II MACh1.  2.8l 4 speed hatchback with 13" OEM aluminum slot mags and all the rust multiple owners and MI winters could give it.  

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/27/22 12:09 p.m.

1983 Chevy Celebrity.  Two tone red with a gold pinstripe.  2.8L V6 with a Rochester Varijet.  125 blistering HP.  I bought it in 1989 for $3200 that I borrowed from mom and dad and paid them back $100/mo, and that was stretching my budget as a part-time burger flipper.

Not mine, but it looked just like this:

1983 Chevrolet Celebrity – excellent mechanical and cosmetic  condition | Chevrolet, Sedan, Fwd

Sounbwoy New Reader
12/27/22 12:24 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

1988 Ford Escort GT.. LOVED it and miss it. It wasn't as bad as many have said (at least mine wasn't). 

First ever track event was in this car at Road Atlanta (1994 when  the Dip still existed). Next event was Roebling Road (pictured) that same year. By then I had updated suspension all round (red Konis and poly bushings everywhere, PLUS a zero camber kit) which was the best thing I ever did. Going through Turn 12 at Road ATL with 2.5 degrees POSITIVE camber is..interesting. Did many more track events before wrecking it. It was eventually replaced with a 1st Gen CRX Si, which even though an older car (1985) was way better, but yeah, I miss Betsy!

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/27/22 12:29 p.m.

Special order stripper model with a heater as the only option, a 1960 Plymouth Suburban two door wagon. My dad's friend was a mechanic at the dealership in Orlando. His favorite family outing was trips to New Smyrna beach, where it got exposed to a lot of salt. 

Original owner moved to Maryland, later sold it to my dad in about 1970. By that point, it had several hundred thousand miles and had been re-ringed with out removing the block.

225 slant six, three on the tree. My 9'4" longboard would fit in the back with the tailgate closed. It was incredibly slow, I got passed by a fully loaded gasoline school bus while I was running through first and second gear wide-open.At the time, I had the least cool car in my high school. We figure it went about a half million miles. 

my clutch linkage broke, and I parked it till I had the money to fix it, when I came home from my first summer on the race track my dad had junked it  

This is the same model and color, different car.


Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/27/22 12:30 p.m.

I don't have a picture of it (otherwise I would have used it as the lead for this item), but my first car was a base model 94 Integra.

I loved it, but it quickly turned into a lemon. Also, the A/C didn't work and driver's window wouldn't go down.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
12/27/22 12:36 p.m.

1971 Datsun 510, purchased for $600 Cdn in May 1976. Orange 2 door with a black interior. It had rust holes in the rockers where the chrome trim clipped in, otherwise in good shape. Drove it for another four years until the Japanese steel lost the fight with copious amounts of Quebec road salt. It was a fun little car !

Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/27/22 12:55 p.m.

The first one I drove on a regular basis was my dad's 78 C10. He had a company car and I could drive the truck as long as it was full of gas when he needed it. 

1978 Chevrolet C10 Pickup | F64 | Harrisburg 2017

The first one with my name on the title was a 81 Malibu Wagon. 

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

I wish I still had both of them.


racerfink UberDork
12/27/22 1:18 p.m.

1981 Chevy Citation X-11.  Bought off my dad for $500.  A friend of my uncle had bought it new, making me the third owner.  My dad and I autocrossed it quite a bit.  It ran in F Stock at the time, and if the course was tight enough, my dad or the other guy in his black '81 X-11 would win.  If the resident alien showed up in his '85 Z-28 on his lunch break, everyone else was battling for 2nd.

Loved making all the kids at my school who got new Mustangs for birthday presents look like fools.  They didn't understand that turning Gatorbacks into white smoke wasn't fast.

Sold it to a friend when his wife didn't realize what the 'genie lamp' on their only car meant.  I had just bought an '87 Z-24.  Should have just loaned it to him in exchange for installing all the parts I had acquired while working in the parts department at a Chevy dealer.

Really Miss having that car.

RadBarchetta New Reader
12/27/22 1:30 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

1982 Accord sedan, blue over blue with a five-speed. (Bonus points for those who know where the image was taken.)

I had that exact same car as my second. <fistbump>

My first was a 89 Sentra, base model, and I do mean base model. No radio, no passenger-side mirror, not even a vanity mirror under the visor. Those were for rich people. Dad bought it brand new because he was tired of dealing with used cars for us kids. Between my brother and I, it was wrecked five times (only one was my fault) before we got rid of it and went back to used cars. That Accord was the replacement.

Really, though, I like to think of my first car was as being this Alfa.


Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/27/22 1:36 p.m.

First car, first forever car, first inline six, first line on the prenup.  First everything. 


NY Nick
NY Nick GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/27/22 1:42 p.m.

First car was a 1986 Monte Carlo. It was decent when I got it with some rust, bone stock, decently maintained. It was $3,500 in 1992 when I got it. My godfather owned a garage and he helped me fix the rust and repaint it after hours one summer. In actual fact he did all the hard stuff and it would have never been done without him. I paid for all the mods by mowing lawns. They were pretty limited and all cosmetic except for the high horsepower air cleaner flip and straight pipe in place of the muffler. I loved this cat and drove it for 5 years, one of the ones I would like to have again. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
12/27/22 1:43 p.m.

This is probably the only pic I have of my 1st car, a 1964 Buick Skylark:

Hard to tell in the pic, but it was navy blue with a light blue interior. It had the 225ci Fireball V6 backed by the 2-speed Super Turbine 300. It was the slowest vehicle in existence, but it ran fantastic and never left me stranded. The single circuit manual drum brakes worked most of the time; the pedal would sometimes go to the floor and you would go sailing through an intersection. It's fanciest feature was the 4-way power bench seat; the ENTIRE bench would move on that switch!

About a year into ownership, the fuel tank started leaking, and a replacement was over $300, so it sat while I drove other family vehicles. Instead of buying a tank, I bought a 1987 Cougar XR7 for $250, and shortly later when the trans grenaded on that car, ANOTHER near-identical $250 Cougar XR7 (which can be seen in the background) was purchased. I had plans of pulling the drivetrain and swapping in either a Grand National 3.8 Turbo, a Nailhead 401 or 425 V8, or a 455, but I found rust in the frame near the body mounts, so I sold the car. I'd love to have that one back! 

msterbeau Reader
12/27/22 1:51 p.m.

OK. I think the statute of limitations has run out... laugh

1976 Honda Civic purchased when I was going to design college in Detroit. Bought it from one of my classmates in 1986.  First thing to do was remove bumpers and add a few other touches. 


Three other friends had similar cars and we drove them as a "gang" on occasion. Mischief tended to ensue.  All of them evolved in creative and interesting ways.  Two eventually lost their roofs.  

Eventually they were all painted flat black.  Another friend was interning at Autoweek at the time and photographed the cars near school to include in a section of the magazine that featured... oddities?  They christened us the "Bash Boys" due to some of the antics we got into with the cars.  They all met fairly unceremonious demises.  devil


The end.

Puddy46 Reader
12/27/22 1:55 p.m.

1993 Pontiac Bonneville.  Wasn't even on the radar when I was shopping for a car.  Originally wanted a small car with a stick, but when I saw this on the back lot of a local dealer, I knew it was going to be mine.  What a fantastic car, and the first car I ever autocrossed.  It was terrible at it (duh), but I didn't care.  Great college car.  Traded it in for a newer GTO after college, but always kind of wanted to own it again.  Perhaps one day.

TexasCobra New Reader
12/27/22 1:58 p.m.

1963 Studebaker Lark station wagon with 259 cid V8, three on-the-tree and solenoid activated overdrive, air conditioning, and a rear seat that folded flat so that you could sleep on long trips.  I drove it and wrenched on it my last two years at the University of Texas when the car was more than ten years old.  Few people recall that in the 1960's Studebaker provided Mercedes Benz with a dealership network for sales and service.  I inherited the car from my grandmother after she was pulled over for driving more than 60 mph on a farm-to-market road zoned at 35 mph.  She was then in her ninth decade.  Her second mistake was pushing in the clutch on a hill which allowed the Studebaker to roll over the deputy sherif's foot!  That resulted in the loss of her driver's license.



chandler UltimaDork
12/27/22 1:59 p.m.

1981 Plymouth Voyager, what parents allowed me to take their daughters on dates? Surprisingly most of them

this isn't it but it looked quite similar. Red and white. Almost cleared 500k miles when I was going off to college with a brand new to me 1985 Diplomat so it went in the scrap yard. One wheel peels were epic with recapped snow tires...


My first fun car was simultaneous and was an 81 d150 shortbed step side with turbo 225 3 spd that my dad and I put together. Then it had a 383 then a 318 from a police interceptor which was the best engine for it. I have pics of it somewhere, I sold it and all the other fun stuff I had when I bought my first house 

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/27/22 2:06 p.m.

My first car was blue 4 speed coupe with a crappy 4 banger in it. It was a complete rust bucket. Two weeks after I bought it, a chunk fell out of the floor, leaving the carpet and a piece of plywood the only thing between one of the back footwells and Flintstone style propulsion. That hole developed into a major stress fracture in the unibody after going over railroad tracks at speed one too many times. It was taken off of the road and sold for parts back when you had to pay per line in the classified ads.

Thus began a decades long pursuit of questionable (but fun) automotive choices. Oddly enough, that particular make of car kind of has a cult following now, but back then it was just a beater.

It also may be the answer to a security question (though likely not at this point) so details are Top Secret. 

rob_lewis UberDork
12/27/22 2:11 p.m.

Ok to have two first cars?

First car that was supposed to be mine and what I learned to drive stick on was a 1966 VW station wagon.  Baby poop brown with what was once white shag carpet in the back, but was a dingy yellow when we got the car, and white vinyl seats from a Camaro. My dad traded a TV for it and I remember being sad as mom and I followed him home. I learned about the VW scene and started to think maybe it wouldn't be too bad.  I was 15 and dad took me out a few times in the country so I could learn to drive stick. Next door neighbor borrowed to one day and the motor overheated and locked up and had it towed home. Someone as a joke wrote For Sale $150 on the window with shoe polish. Two guys showed up to buy it and dad sold it. I never drove it by myself  

About a month before I turned 16, they bought me a 1967 Triumph GT6.  Rusted passenger floor, goofy American Racing mags on it and red.  Drove it all through high school until I got my Bugeye for graduation. I'll admit to beating the snot out of that car and learning to flick the rear end sideways on pretty much every turn. Only major cost were tires (super cheap ones), a clutch that we replaced by pulling the transmission from inside the car, and we eventually fiberglassed the passenger floor. It was hot in the Texas summers with that big straight 6 and a black vinyl interior, but I still miss it. 


Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/27/22 2:23 p.m.

1972 standard Beetle.  Baby blue 1600, 4 speed.

areingr None
12/27/22 2:33 p.m.

1999 Toyota Corolla. Perfect first car... except for burning a quart of oil every 300 miles after a couple months of owning it. After one summer in my parent's garage, it no longer burned oil! Attached is a pic at an autocross, in peak form. It served me well for ~40k miles, then my brother put 30k miles on it in one year. It ended up with a friend until they got T-boned at 220k miles. Car was completely undrivable, but still started up with no hesitation. Sad to see it go on a flatbed. I would have loved to get it back! 99Corolla_autox_01

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
12/27/22 2:59 p.m.

In reply to rob_lewis :

I had a similar situation with a "first car" that never made it to the road. For me, that was a 1985 Civic Wagovan. It was gold and had a brown and orange plaid interior. Parents bought it from a neighbor who was moving for $50. It wouldn't stay running no matter what we did to it, and it had no title, so it got junked before my Buick showed up. 

miatamaven None
12/27/22 3:04 p.m.

1948 Ford Deluxe Tudor with a 239 cu in flathead, two Stomberg 97's, 26 tooth Lincoln Zephyr gears in the trans shifted by a Hurst Mystery Shifter, headers dumping into Hollywood Deep Tone glass packs from JC Whitney.  Boy, am I showing my age!

paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/27/22 3:12 p.m.

First one I bought was a 1972 Cuda 340 4 speed in 1985, for $1500. Drove it through college, learning to wrench: clutch, brakes, wheel bearings, u-joints - at 110k miles loss of stuff was shot in those days. Also rusty. The 125 nitrous kit was a bad idea, though, and started the ball rolling on a 15 year project, 10 of which it was completely off the road. 

While the body was slowly getting redone I rebuilt the previously-upgraded engine to 1968++ spec, did all new suspension bushings,  added much of the California Moparts suspension catalog, a Firm Feel ps box, Koni shocks, a Rallye steering wheel and a pair of Porsche 944 seats. That turned out so well I upgraded the brakes with Viper calipers over 11.75" Diplomat rotors & GM-derived rear disk brakes along with 17" forged Mustang 5 spokes and good tires ( all funded by buying and then selling 2 pallets of NIB Brembo 11.75" rotors to other Mopar weirdos). It wasn't finished but had achieved my goal of a solid, fast, excellent-handling V8 coupe.

Then I had a chance to buy the car I'd wanted but couldn't afford at the time, so after about 20 years my first car went off to a fellow in Pennsylvania who died a couple weeks later. A few years after that I got a call from a hotrod shop that found my number in the car's paperwork and wanted to know the specs. Said he hated the 17" wheels but it was the best running and driving E-body he'd driven, which made my day.

Sometimes I google the Vin for old times' sake. It went to auction awhile after the hotrod shop called, with the wheels and brakes returned to lame-azz stock, and I haven't seen a hit in many years.

If you're out there, BS23H2B215359, drop a line some day.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/27/22 3:17 p.m.

My first car was my mom's ROW '81 Civic 4 speed manual. I learned to drive on it and it became mine when my mom upgraded to an EF Civic hatchback. 

calteg SuperDork
12/27/22 3:30 p.m.

80's notchback mustang pulled out of a farmer's field for $100. At one point it was red with white vinyl seats, the seats were 90% foam.

Spent the Summer swapping a junkyard 5.0L in with my Grandfather. We were on an extreme budget. 

We couldn't figure out how to wire the fan to the ignition, so it had a mystery switch under the dash that I frequently forgot to turn off, killing the battery.  A/C didn't work, I spent two very miserable TX Summers stinking up the interior. It had a massive fuel leak I never tracked down,  mostly because gas was $.50/gal. 

Also took me 9 months to realize that we never put new tires on it. I thought the thundering torque of the V8 made it an insatiable burnout machine. Turns out it was 15 year old, badly dry rotted rubber. It's a miracle I didn't wreck that thing. Sold it to Carmax for $100

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
12/27/22 3:45 p.m.
CJ GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/27/22 4:20 p.m.

First car was a 1957 Volvo 444.  1600cc of roaring power.  Paid $100 plus $6 sales tax.  I didn't have a license yet, so my dad drove home.  46mph on the freeway, flat out. 

Burned valves and broken ring lands explained some of the problems.  JC Whitney and I ended up touching just about every part of that car over the next year. 

By the time I was done, it had a rebuilt engine, brakes, generator, dual SUs, and new paint.

Not my car, but could be if the paint was shiny.

It was a great car until a '71 MGB-GT caught my attention.

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/27/22 4:45 p.m.

From my Opel thread:

"When I was 15 my Step-dad gave me his old 1975 Opel Kadett 1900. I could not figure out the mechanical injection, but it introduced me to my 2nd car a 1970 Opel GT. I had a Chiltons manual for the Kadett and each chapter had a different Opel pic at the start. Kadett, Kadett Wagon, Manta (Ooo, that's cool), GT (epiphany for sure).

A few years later (1989) I bought a 1971 GT for $1200. I got some garage space at a friends parents house and set out freshening it up. I found a period article on how to hot rod them and did. It ended up a 2ltr fire spitting beast. I went hunting Fieros, GTs especially. It was 1970s fast.

I totaled it 30 days after I started driving it. I thought I could straddle a man hole in a construction zone at a good clip. I was wrong.

I have a wife now and she is a car girl. We got to talking about what car we missed most. Mine was this Opel. She had never heard of one and asked to see pics. When I showed her the pics online she exclaimed: "We need one of those!". This from a girl that wanted me to get rid of my 914 because it would never be worth anything and was always in the way.

That was a few years ago and I have always been looking. Today I bought a 1971 Opel GT with the 1900cc motor and a 4spd. Inspection ended 6 days ago and runs and drives."

Now the important bit.

It's my berkeleying car, bought again 30 years later and 800 miles away! 

It sits in my driveway waiting for it's turn to get repaired and modded.

When we were cleaning it out I started noticing similarities and eventually I freaking found something of MINE in the car. Unbelievable! It was something that my step-father knew so I sent him a picture. He exclaimed: "NO WAY! That was mine...YOU BOUGHT YOUR OLD CAR BACK!!!!"

So damn cool.

12/27/22 5:16 p.m.

1972 Capri, loved that car. I also owned a 1978 Capri and would love to have either or both back in my garage.

1988RedT2 MegaDork
12/27/22 5:23 p.m.

1973 Mazda RX-2.  It would have been a really cool car if it had been a manual shift 2-door, but it was an automatic 4-door, light yellow in color.  Still way more fun than it looked.  It's the car that got me addicted to the spinning Doritos.  When the points were set right in the twin dizzies and the little 4-barrel carb was dumping fuel, that 12A was a glorious engine with plenty of thrust once you got it over 4000 RPM.  I drove it daily for almost five years, then sold it to a guy who totaled it a week later.

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/27/22 5:25 p.m.

My first car was my dad's 1972 chev farm truck. It was very very tired and did not have a single straight panel. When he could no longer keep oil and plugs in it he sold it to me for $500.00. But since he had not taken delivery of his new old ratbagged beater he continued to drive it for a few weeks after I paid for it. He was backing it out of the shop one day and since both mirrors had been torn off he opened the door to look behind him, and promptly bent it back against the hood as it caught the barn door post. He said "sorry about that" and handed me the keys.

I set about hammering the door straighter and rebuilding the motor on dad's work bench. My hot rodding friends sold me every hot rod part they could think of and I ended up with a homemade tunnel ram, a holley 850 double pumper, headers from something that had to be kinked to fit, and a porting and matching job by three enthusiastic 15 year olds with files and an electric drill. It had a very very very lumpy cam and a very very very poor assembly job with a few open end wrenches and no torque wrench or real ability or experience at all.  One day I came into the shop to find my dad had been cutting wood beside the partially assembled block and it was covered in sawdust. When it was together it was so tight it would not turn over so we dragged the truck up and down the road with a tractor until it loosened up.  I actually drove that thing for over a year and one day the Holley flooded and caught fire and the truck burned to the ground. I got $500.00 from insurance and went on to make other equally poor automotive decisions.

68TR250 HalfDork
12/27/22 5:33 p.m.

My first car was a also a 63 Studebaker Lark - 2 door hardtop that I got from my parents when the clutch went out in 1968.  Straight 6 with a three speed on the cloth interior.  White wheels.  It was a thing for me back then.  I repainted it the original Champaign Gold and put in a cheap floor shifter. 

1970 - High school car was '65 TR4A in my parents name.  Very much stock.   College car was aTR6 - 1972 through fall of 75.  Still using my parents name for the car.

I've had a TR ever since except one 5 month period.

First car in my own name was a '67 TR4A that I got in spring of 76. It had a hot cam, big bore kit, header and a 411 rear.  The SU's from the '67 4 are on my 250.



GeddesB GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/27/22 5:48 p.m.

1974 Dodge Charger - lasted 5 days.  As the song goes: "Oak tree you're in my way"

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/27/22 6:01 p.m.

Upon graduation and receipt of my associates degree my mom split the cost on an 83 Honda Civic 1200 automatic three door hatch in the very notable Honda light blue. I was heading up the Northway in NY towards a college friend's home in Saranac Lake when I blew the engine near Warrensburg. Hole the size of a nickle in the block. Had I forgotten to check the coolant level? Maybe. Mom was pissed.

The first car I purchased on my own was actually two cars. Both were A1 rabbits. I paid my boss $200 for both, pulled them into the shop on Friday night, swapped all the best parts onto the least rusty chassis, and drove it for about a year. Including delivering pizzas for Dominoes. I autocrossed and beat the snot out of that car. Learned that you don't rev hard a cold engine, and that A1 chassis VWs really are like Legos. Thus began my descent into long term VW ownership that lasts to this day.

The first new car I ever purchased (and current DD) is my 13 Mazda 2. Basically a modern interpretation of that original A1 chassis rabbit. All 192000 miles on it are mine.


EDIT: re; David Wallens, Bridgehampton?

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
12/27/22 6:10 p.m.

1966 VW Bus

(Not mine, but similar)

I bought it for $25 in 1978. 

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/27/22 6:10 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

 Dad bought this for me in 1962.  A lot rougher then and it traveled a whole 37 miles before a connecting rod decided  it wanted to get out of the confines of the block.

    It originally came from Japan (?!!!) yeh I assume a Navy  guy brought it from America when  assigned there.   
    I replaced the engine and brought it to San Diego when I was assigned there.  I did a bare frame restoration in the Base hobby shop and finished just as I finished my duty.  
So I've owned this for 60 years   


Tom1200 UberDork
12/27/22 6:21 p.m.

1964 Baja Bug (the picture seems to have gone missing).

When we rebuilt the motor we went all out and installed the 1385cc jugs. 

The car had a one piece tilt front end as well as a cut and turned beam for additional ride hieght.

I had many great off road adventures with it. I actually swapped for a fully restored BSA 650.

buzzboy SuperDork
12/27/22 6:27 p.m.

1974 Standard Beetle. Bought for $2500 in 2007 with a fresh coat of paint and a good running 1600dp. I built a 1641 for it, blew that up after 200 miles, built another 1641, much better. I wanted to drive it on the beach, so it got 3" lift spindles and turned up torsion bars. My favorite part are the roof racks. They are period correct, given to me by a cool neighbor. I had a megaphone exhaust on it, which is still the loudest car I've ever heard on the street. Sold for $2500 in 2009 after I bought a 1962 Mercury Comet 289/3spd.

MauryH GRM+ Memberand New Reader
12/27/22 6:38 p.m.

1951 Dodge convertible, light blue, slant six. Hand-me-down and college grad present as I was off to the Air Force in '54. Half way through pilot training, while home on leave, traded it for a new '55 Thunderbird. Had I washed out it would have been repossesed for sure. No pics and dim, but good memories.

JimS Reader
12/27/22 7:07 p.m.

55 Buick Special 2door 3 speed on column. 264 cu in v8. $313. Thought I was buying the fast Buick. Learned to research before buying. I think it was in 1962. Man I am old. 

OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/27/22 10:27 p.m.

First car I bought was an 86 GTI. I made payments for 36 months then made large repair payments monthly until I got rid of it. Fun car though. Had a stereo worth more than the car at one point.

But before that I borrowed my Dad's 1981 Ford Escort L. It had manual everything

Claff HalfDork
12/27/22 11:39 p.m.

First car was a 1978 Honda Civic

I'm sure I've told this story here before, but like George Thorogood talking whiskey bourbon and beer, you're going to hear it again. And again. And again.

Dad was known as the Honda guy in town. Bought a Civic new in 1974 and nobody had anything like that in the neighborhood. Years go by and co-workers would buzz dad saying they had and/or knew a neighbor who had a dead Honda rotting away, would he like it? He'd pick it up for next to nothing, fix whatever was wrong and sell it off. He had a block & tackle in the garage so he could yank an engine in an hour, carry it down to the basement, rebuild it over the weekend, and have a running car in a matter of days. Some he kept and he had a pretty good run racing them on the ice with NYSIRA and AMEC.

There were four of us kids, and we started getting near driving age in the middle '80s. The standard procedure was to learn to drive in dad's El Camino which was his tow pig for the ice racing effort. As the next kid got to driving age, the one using the El Camino was issued a Honda, freeing up the truck for the next trainee. These Hondas cost $500, payable with a $20 check every week and you were not allowed to be late with a payment.

I started with the El Camino in late 1984 as my brother got his first Honda. I wish I had a picture of that truck. Dad redid the body of it with copious amounts of Bondo and painted it black with bold yellow/orange/red stripes that started behind the front wheels, grew to almost the whole thickness of the truck bed as they wrapped around the tailgate. You couldn't get away with anything because the truck was impossible not to notice and everyone knew who it belonged to.

I used the El Camino for quite a while, though I also got to use his screaming yellow '73 Corvette convertible the summer of '85 after I graduated high school. That's really the perfect car to teach a 17 year old to drive a manual transmission.

Anyway my sister was approaching driving age by early 1986 so it was time for me to move on to a Honda. This one was originally brown but I sanded it all down, patched some of the rust, and dad resprayed it '73 Corvette yellow. It was glorious. These were amazingly simple cars, nothing to break, brakes and tires lasted forever, and I could squeak out low-40s MPG if I tried. I also could pretend to be a rally driver on the back roads to my juco and never risk getting a speeding ticket.

The problem with these old Hondas in Massachusetts was that they rusted out. This one got so rotten that its front crossmember cracked, as I was told by a mechanic at Sears when I tried getting them to put a pair of new $20 tires on the front. He told me to drive it home very slowly and very carefully, and never drive it again. And that's exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, I never learned my lesson. As the other kids went through their initial Hondas and then moved on to better stuff (Rob got a Dodge Colt, Sue got a RX7 GSL, Alison got a AW11 MR2) as soon as possible, I just kept finding dead Hondas to revive and drive. They'd start out decent, all the lights worked, but then they'd all start getting worn out just like the first one. Like the other Hondas dad dealt with over the years, when they'd get to the point of not being able to fix them, we'd strip them of anything usable and send the rusty shell to the boneyard. I went through four of those Civics; as a family I think our total was 16 starting from that new one in '74 to my last one that was retired in early 1994.


BTW when I saw msterbeau post about his red Civic, I instantly thought about the Bash Brothers that I read about in Autoweek way back when, and then I saw that he was indeed one of them. Funny how you remember stupid little things like that and suddenly someone who was actually a part of it is one of your forum neighbors.


ShawnG MegaDork
12/28/22 12:14 a.m.

1976 Toyota Corona station wagon.

Burgundy, no roof rack.

ddavidv UltimaDork
12/28/22 7:58 a.m.

My first car was a Murray Camaro. I literally wore the rubber off the wheels and my folks unceremoniously tossed it in the trash one day. I bought an identical one on Ebay about 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I no longer fit in it. 

My actual first 'car' was a 1971 C101 Jeep Commando. 225 V6 and a four speed. Not really the car I wanted; more like the car my dad wanted and I was the excuse for him to get it. Yep, had some rust. Yep, wouldn't start in wet weather (a puzzling trademark of both 225 V6 Jeeps I've owned). Nope, don't particularly want another one.

kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/28/22 8:12 a.m.

1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. Had the 5.2 Magnum V8. Black on the tan leather. Pretty nice for a hand me down from my mom(she got a BMW X5 to replace it). 

Threw a ton of the Mopar fast parts at it. K&N intake, Fastman 50mm throttle body, Mopar PCM, Thorley headers w/ high flow cat, 3" Kolak exhaust, Mopar M1 intake manifold and 1.7 rockers. Had the Transgo shift kit installed as the 46RE was total garbage in stock form. Transfer case was the AWD version(NP249 IIRC) which wasnt as good as the 242 Selec-trac(was a wish list item) which could be put into 2wd. The AWD case was finicky.  

With all that it barely ran a mid-14's in the 1/4 mile. Think in stock form they ran 16's. It wasn't fast but would get out of the hole quick enough to surprise people if you powerbraked it. Lost to a local 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9L a few times with the same modifications that i had. So i was bitter at the truck after that. 
Removed alot of the Mopar parts, sold them and went to a basic Kevin's offroad 3" lift with 31" A/T tires. Tried offroading but time and money at that point made not working weekends impossible. 
Drove it into the ground as a daily driver and sold it. Was such a reliable truck and NEVER broke down no matter how badly i beat on it.

I always have wanted to build another fast Jeep ZJ but space isn't available to keep one around. Also finding one that isn't beaten to death these days is nearly impossible. 

bobzilla MegaDork
12/28/22 8:33 a.m.

A bit of a tricky question there. The first car I ever bought with the intention to drive it at 16 was a 1980 Buick Park Avenue 350 Diesel. Car was pimp as f. velour interior couches, 8-track player and 11 speakers. Paid $250 for the car. Little old lady had bought it new and parked it when she couldn't drive anymore under a maple tree. Every service and tank of fuel was logged in the maintenance manual including the 2 year old fuel in it. Put glow plugs and filters in it along with 2 new tires and one month before I got my license the injector pump took a dump. This was pre-discount parts stores so NAPA or CarQuest were basically my only option and it was $400 for one. I didn't make that much in a summer so it sat. Sold it 10 years later for $300. 

Since that car was dead, my parents lent me their 1984 Ford Tempo 5-spd. I sourced two new control arms from the local junk yard for $10 a piece and drove it. Popped an engine when a rod bolt decided it not longer wanted to be attached, shattered the aluminum oil pan while driving 20mph in town. I bought the engine and dad paid to have it installed (popped in January and we didn't have a garage or engine hoist at the time). Drove it until I graduated. 

Mine was this dark blue but with the super obnoxious red interior and hte "premium audio" from Ford that put the amp in the trunk area so every time you opened the trunk when it was wet the water ran straight onto it. Apparently Ford ddn't learn from that and did something similar with the Windstar ECU's. 

Ford Tempo 1984 #1

The_Jed PowerDork
12/28/22 8:50 a.m.

   My first car was an '83 Thunder chicken (3.8/auto) that I bought in '98, at the age of 18, for the princely sum of $200. It was extremely haggard, leaked every fluid you put in it, overheated if you didn't run the heater at full blast all the time, had one functioning brake (d/s front), no kick down cable, the exhaust ended at the converter, the tires had wires showing and broken belts, and it had just under 200,000 miles on it. The poor thing only lasted about six months until it chucked a rod through the block while I was roaring down highway 270 at 100 or so.



clownkiller Dork
12/28/22 8:59 a.m.

My first was a hand me down from my uncle. It was my grandpas 1969 Coronet.  318, 2bbl, auto. I got it when I was 14 and it had made it though 11 Winnipeg winters. I worked on the car for two years and drove it when I got my license.  Learned body work, timing chain, ujoints, left hand thread wheel lugs, heater core and so much more. Here is a rust free representative pic:


Mine was gold with the white vinyl top

DukeSky GRM+ Memberand None
12/28/22 9:37 a.m.

My first car was a 1969 MGC GT Primrose Yellow with wire wheels and knock offs. Bought for 1500.00 in 1980. Drove it all over the Bay Area. Hit a telephone pole bent the frame traded it for a 1972 Triumph Spitfire. Got it Friday night at 9pm rolled it the next day. Trailing arm broke off the car, sent me spinning....

MrStickShift Reader
12/28/22 9:44 a.m.

My first one that I bought with real money was a 2001 Ford F-150. 2WD, manual transmission, crank windows, V6.

The first one I bought (with a fake ebay account at 9 years old) was a 78 Chevy Square body 3/4 ton. 2WD, 350 V8, TH400 trans



BenB HalfDork
12/28/22 9:47 a.m.

1971 MGB GT. My dad bought it when we moved to Indianapolis in '72 and he used it to commute for the 18 months we lived there. He never got around to selling it, so when I turned 16 a few years later, it became my car. I loved it, but one day I took my eyes off the road just long enough to change the station on the radio and totaled the car. 

This is the car with my little sister the day Dad bought it.

I then made the mistake of buying a TR7 to replace it, but that's another story.

wspohn SuperDork
12/28/22 12:48 p.m.

1968 Sunbeam Imp = the 875 cc engine would not enable the car to start from a stop sign on a steep hill no matter how much you slipped the clutch (and doing that would have unavoidably ended it up in the shop anyway.

Traded in 2 weeks later on my second car, a 1968 Toyota Corolla which was actually reasonably peppy and as a non interference engine would float the valves in all four forward gears without negative effect.

Despite the durability of that car, I then started in on a string of British cars that lasted several decades (I still own four of them).

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/28/22 1:58 p.m.


I was about two when my mom got it for me.  I could read "MIURA" on the underside.


I was about six or so when I lost it in the heating ducts of the house, I thought I could drive it from one room to the next, not knowing that there was a duct to the basement in between.  Well, that's how I learned, anyway.

Placemotorsports GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
12/28/22 2:06 p.m.

1988 Dodge Omni, blue with blue interior.  Quite the terd

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/29/22 8:43 a.m.

Fun thread, not the first time we've visited this topic and I enjoy reading the replies every time. 

It didn't occur to me to mention my first car, since I never got to drive it. I was gifted a 1965 Corvair Corsa coupe with a thrown rod. It had the 140 HP engine with the four carbs, and a four-speed, pretty cool car. 

I've always loved the looks of that generation. Unfortunately, I was 14 years old with no mentor, no garage, and no clue. I remember looking at it and trying to figure out what to take off the engine first. I'm sure I needed to start on the bottom, but there was no way to lift it sitting in the sand behind the house.  When I didn't work on it, the owner took it back and sold it. 

te72 HalfDork
12/29/22 10:50 a.m.

First car was a 1994 Cavalier RS, four door, auto. White with blue interior. Think I paid $2000 or so for it, not bad considering the age and condition. Drove that car for five years before someone t-boned me bad enough to total the car. How it survived me for those years, I'll never know.


Had been in four accidents, two of them my fault and good lessons in poor road conditions. Saw more air than many a rally car. Slow by any modern standard, but it got me where I needed to go, and got 30-40mpg frequently. Can't say I miss it, but when I see one of those old J-body cars on the rare occasion, it does make me respect how tough mine was.

AndyHess New Reader
12/29/22 10:50 a.m.

64 1/2 Mustang Convertible.  Bought it used - 2nd owner.  289, 4-spd.  Original owner installed a chrome Sun tack on the transmission tunnel - just ahead of the shifter.  I rebuilt the engine, installed a matched Ford Performance hi-rise intake, hydraulic cam and springs. Mallory Dual Point and a Holley 780 Double Pumper on it.  New rings and bearings.  Hedman headers. Used to run it at Green Valley outside of Ft. Worth, Tx. and at Dallas International Speedway (both were SCCA tracks where I volunteered as a corner worker) in Lewisville, Tx.  Best run was 13.9.  I used to carry slicks and a jack in the trunk, and wrench to open the headers.  When Two-Lane Blacktop was released, I went with my friends to see it - we took up the front row.  Hell - We were living Two-Lane.

darkbuddha HalfDork
12/29/22 2:52 p.m.

I bought my first car, an H-code 351W-2V FMX 1970 Mustang Mach 1, in 1988 for $1200.  Blue with white trim, 14" chrome wagon wheels, shag carpet, white fur dash, and Thrush sidepipes; it was everything a 15 year old could dream of wanting. I learned to wrench on it, and while testing the newly rebuilt brakes, I learned the consequences of the bad maintenance practice drilling holes in the shocktowers to grease the upper A-arms. The driver's side shocktower collapsed necessitating the shocktowers be replaced. I then drove it through high school and undergraduate.

Crazy thing is, I still own it 35 years later.  Just could never bring myself to ever let it go, even though I've abandoned it for long stints during those 35 years, whether for grad school or career or family commitments, or laziness. It did get mostly restored but not quite finished from 2001-2006, and then it sat again for anothe 6 or 7 years again. And now it's been sitting half torn apart since 2012 awaiting installation of the new engine, trans, coilover suspension, bigger brakes, and all the other stuff I've accumulated over the last decade.  It's a sad sight, but I'm hoping 2023 is the year I get it done (enough) to drive again.


HundredDollarCar Reader
12/30/22 7:37 a.m.

‘69 Volkswagen Beetle.

Compleat Idiot’s guide kept it alive far longer than natural.  Learned oil changes and valve adjustments.  First engine removal and new clutch installation.

First throw out bearing explosion in heavy traffic due to being installed backwards leading to....

First lesson in driving manual transmission without using a clutch.



cfvwtuner Reader
12/30/22 8:35 a.m.

1980 Mustang Ghia hatch.  Silver with blue leather interior and sunroof.  Had a bad head gasket.  Parents bought it when I was 14.  It was the motivation to keep my grades up.  I was the 3rd owner, having bought it from the first people that drove the car, as they won it on a scratch off lottery ticket back in 80.

A new 2.3 engine was found in a smashed 79 coupe and the est parts of the 2 were used on the 80.  Along the way to my 16th birthday a 79 Pace Car nose and 86 GT rear wing found there way onto the car.  Interior was refreshed, exterior painted.  Only drove it for a year or so.  It was either keep the RWD automatic mustang in snowy Connecticut, or take over the 85 Nissan King Cab 4x4 5 speed.  my stang drove off into the sunset

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