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Story of your First Car


LarryP
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After a life-time of passion for everything cars, I've finally come to the realization that the thing I really like about cars (and parts, and tools, and garages) are the stories behind the cars.  

 

I love hearing about travels and travails involving our "antique" cars back in the day when these were new or considered just another used car or old beater.  A handful of these great stories from the dawn of the automobile were captured in books and early editions of AACA's Antique Automobile.  Most, of course, are long gone and cannot be recovered, short of imagining the stories that may be behind a particular car.  

 

I want to start capturing these stories.  To that end, next week I will begin a project of interviewing people about their early car experiences.  I will ask about their first car - what it was, how old they were when the purchased it, how much did it cost, etc.   I will ask them to tell me any fun experiences or road trips they had with a car decades ago.  

 

One example is an 86 year old friend who, along with a high school friend, drove a 1930 Model A roadster from Michigan to Tijuana, Mexico when he was 17 years old.  It was just a fun road trip.  He made the entire 4500 mile round trip without a single mechanical failure ... until pulling into his parents driveway at the end of the return trip, when a front wheel fell off and rolled the rest of the way down the driveway.  

 

I would love to hear stories you may have about cars you owned or drove 30, 40, 50 or even 70 years ago.    

 

I'll start with my first car, a 1966 Chevy stepside pickup truck.  My dad officially bought this truck for me in 1982, when I was 13 years old.  The purchase price for the truck was a case of beer (Miller High Life, to be specific).  The seller was a good friend of my parent's, so I knew many stores about the truck and its adventures well before i took possession of the truck.  The truck was named "Mort", and was painted orange and black, the local high school's colors.    With those colors and the colorful character of the person who owned it for years, the truck itself was well-known around our small town in Michigan.

 

Mort was very rusty, so we never plated it.  Instead, we used it to haul firewood up from our woods to the house.  Most important to me though, is that this truck was how I really learned to drive.  We had 85 acres of land which I used as a race track and driving school.  I had a blast powersliding that old truck around corners, nursing it through a muddy bog a time or two, and learning how to keep a car running.  Points ignition were old school even then.  After a few years of driving this truck, I became the go-to guy in my high school when it came to dealing with an old car that had points.  Towards the end of the trucks life it was so rusty that I had to wear goggles while driving it, for fear of rust flying around inside the truck getting into my eyes.   When the cab of the truck was finally so rusty that it was falling down over the frame rails, I pulled the strong running 327 engine and sold it to a guy for a few hundred dollars.  A nice return on investment.  The carcass of Mort still sits back in the woods on my parents property.  I've attached a picture (the bent front fender itself has a story that can be told another time). 

 

So what stories do you have?  

 

 

 

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Wasn't old enough for a learner's permit in Florida so learned to drive in the Bahamas with a 41 Ford (why I remember the steering column lock) and about a 54 Jeep (back then there were Jeeps and Jeepsters, none of this fancy model name nonsense) what I remember was then and now the shortest throw gearshft I've ever seen.

 

Learning with LHD cars in a RHD country was thoroughly confusing which has never left. When I get in a car have to determine which hand to shift with. Was also a RHD Land Rover that was theftproof unless you knew the secret: starter button was hidden between the seats. Wasn't until a few years later that I drove an Automagic (61 Thunderbird) that promptly blew 2nd gear so for quite some time it was wind out in first then shift to D. Otherwise it would try to start in 2nd which was not there any more.

 

Have had many since including both LHD (most) and RHD (a few). Of course the pedals are always in the same order - clutch left, accelerator on right except when in center ('nother story)

 

Was fortunate to grow up in south Florida where interesting cars abounded (but few "normal" cars except for rentals). Two that got away were a Facel-Vega HK-500 and a dual quad Caddy with suicide rear doors. Both seen when new and later in poor condition in the '70s but the owners did not want to sell. Have always liked lotsa carbs, still have a Uni-Syn, but FI is better.

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Guest Nicholas J. Giampetro

okay - here goes.  I was 17 graduating from high school considering which college to attend. I was in love with my uncle's "65 289 Mustang convertible - white with red interior.  He was good enough to let me drive it, take is out on dates etc. The entire family knew that it was my dream car.  Dear old dad promised me a car if he wasn't shouldered with a college tuition bill.  Well, I  got a free ride to college and he honored his commitment and bought me a "67 6 cylinder Falcon.  Did I have a right to be only slightly disappointed?  Through the years I owned so many cars from different marques - but I seems that I was always searching and never satisfied.  I've since returned to my roots - and own 4 ponies and I'm a happy man.  

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As a 16 year old junior in high school, I knew nothing about old cars in 1963. We did however like watching the old modifieds race at Raceway Park near Savage MN.. After a few trips there, I spotted an old car way back in a pasture of a farm on highway 13. I thought why not ask if its for sale. The woman that answered the door said it was her sons auto, and he was not returning from Germany, so it was for sale. Bingo, how much, and what is it? Answer, '28 Chev, 2dr sedan, and how much do you two guys have in your wallets? Being such high rollers in high school we had $18 between the two of us. She said sold. We primed the body, installed new tires, new wiring and new glass, got the vacuum tank to work and got it running during that summer. Sold it in the fall for a huge profit, and that was the bug the bit me about 12 antique cars ago.

The next car was a used '56 Corvette for $1200.00 in 1965. Must have raised my sights a little.

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When I was about 14 it would have been about 1962. I had a grunt job at a refrigeration dealership that was meant for someone with more braun than brains.

But it paid a whopping 90 cents an hour.

One day I walked out with my pay in hand and dropped in at a pot lot next door and bought a 53 Studebaker for ten bucks (plus two more for a title transfer).

As I was leaving the mechanic yelled out that it had no brakes (boy was that a fun drive). A buddy and I got the brakes working but there was nothing to do about the smoke screen that thing laid down.

Drove it all summer (10,000 miles) the guy at the oil recycle place started giving me the oil that I was buying from him as he thought I was a trooper for putting up with the POS.

One day the clutch went out so I threw the title in the glove box and walked away.

I saw it a few months later in a wrecking yard.

 

I would buy another 53 Champion in a heartbeat. A lot of memories in that car as I was the only 14 year old around with a car and a job.

They didn't make us buy insurance in those days and gas was about a quarter.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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I was 17 in the summer of 1969 and getting ready to start my senior year at an all boys Catholic high school (which I hated) in Mundelein, IL. My brother went there too and since it was 15 miles away from our home in Waukegan my dad decided to buy me a car so he wouldn't have to pay for two school bus fares. He wouldn't let me go with him when he went to buy it. He came home with a dark blue '65 Impala 2 door hardtop with a 6 and 3 on the tree which was ok with me because I had asked him to at least try to get a 2 door with a V8 and stick if possible so two out of three wasn't bad. Has anyone else ever gotten their first car without seeing it first?

Edited by Lebowski (see edit history)
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Our AACA regional newsletter just finished an account,

published over three issues, of an AACA member who got a

1936 Oldsmobile new in late 1935--and still owns and drives it! 

 

The car was a present for Christmas of 1935, just before he turned 16.

This December, his ownership will reach the 80-year mark. 

 

The 1936 Oldsmobile was his daily driver for 20 years,

until he bought a 1956 Volkswagen convertible.

But he kept the car and, hale and hearty, still enjoys

driving it on occasion.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Guest AlCapone

My first car had four wheels but only three tires. The paint was worn thin and the doors did not open. It had a motor that did not start. The front wheels just went straight and would not turn. It had head and tail lights but they did not work. Even with all those faults I loved my car as do most two year olds when they get their first Dinky Toy! Those were the days my friend! Wayne

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My 37 Chevy p/u is technically my first car and I learned to drive it in farm fields with no brakes and I still have it and its in much better shape now,the first car I drove on the streets is a 65 galaxie my uncle bought new and me and my friends trashed. I was starting to get it back in shape when someone pulled in front of me and done it in,I could have fixed it again but it was in the middle of winter and no where to fix it until spring.

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My 1st car was a 1956 Chevy wagon. My Dad had a wide load escort business, and we would sometimes get caught too far from home and certainly could not afford a motel. I really liked the wagon, it had a 283 the previous owner had put in it, 3 speed manual, dual exhausts, and I put on 63 station wagon wheels, baby moons, and a youth bed mattress in it. I bought it for $325.00 on a 90 day note and paid it off early.  I had to have some surgery on my clutch foot, so drove my Dad's 63 Bel-Air wagon twice. On the 91st day I owned the 56, he called me from Nashville, Tn. and told me to get over to our local car lot and pick me out a replacement, that the 56 had used 8 quarts of oil from Memphis to Nashville and another wheel bearing was going out (regular occurrence).... I picked out a 64 Bel Air sedan and it lasted 33 or 34 days. It was such a piece of junk....big mistake. I spent most of my earnings on gas, wheel bearings, and oil in that thing. It had been an insurance company fleet car, but showed only 30 something thousand miles.  I traded it in on a 63 1/2 Falcon Futura w/ the Sprint package and lived happily ever after, ha !   A couple of friends bought the old 56 after we took it to the car lot, changed the motor and fixed the wheel bearings and used it for several years as a grocery store car !  I always looked at it when driving by their house, I did like it even with it's problems. The 64 ?  I always hoped it ended up in a river somewhere, ha !

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I got my drivers' license in early December of 1967 at age 16 barely.

Somehow I made it through a couple seasons but in mid Summer my Dad came in, threw a C note on the table, and said "go buy a car"

I had a little money saved.......and I mean a little........and went car shopping which didn't amount to much shopping at all because my first stop was a Chevy dealer only 17 miles away in Stevens Point, WI.

I laid my eyes on a blue '59 Chevy Biscayne two door and it was love at first sight and that love cost me $200 and sales tax. while insurance for the first year cost me $300.!

I loved that car all the time I had it and always missed it until I finally "replaced" it 2 years ago Labor Day weekend when my current '59 Bel Air arrived from north central Iowa.

I can't ever sell it because I'd lose things even above my posterior but I don't care........it's love all over again.......  :wub:

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I earned my driver's license in late 1969. In preparation for that momentous occasion I had scoured the neighborhood for a running car in my price range which was maxed at $100.00. Our neighbor had just bought a New Buick Electra and had the former family car, a 1960 Buick Invicta parked behind their garage. When approached, Dr. Peterson told me flatly he wanted 3 cents a pound, which at 4,320 # curb weight worked out to $129.72, well over my budget of $100.00. When I explained my situation to him, he took a thoughtful puff on his pipe and said not only could I have the Buick for $100.00 but I could make payments to him at $2.00 per week for one year! This allowed me to buy seat covers and two new tires. A very kind gesture by him that I have never forgotten.

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They didn't make us buy insurance in those days [circa 1962] and gas was about a quarter.

 

Adjusted for inflation, gas is about the same price now as it was then.

We can be grateful for current gas prices that are often under $2.00.

 

But insurance isn't free--

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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1962 Pontiac Catalina. bought for 50.00 in 67. Turned 16 Feb 26 1968. Tigers won the World Series after the Detroit riot of 67. Had 12 people in the car with the top down cruising up and down Grand River celebrating the win. We were drinking wine and tepeing the trees with toilet paper.

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Here is part of the story on one of my 1931 Dodge Brothers coupes....

I have posted these before.

Thanks for your story John.  I always enjoy reading your posts, and I never realized you were originally from Michigan.  I grew up not too far from Royal Oak in the small town of Marine City, Michigan.

 

Cheers!

Larry

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Great stories from everyone.  Thanks for sharing these. 

 

I'm excited to get started on my project of video recording the stories of so many family and friends.   Perhaps I'll be able to post some videos on this forum at a later date.  

 

Cheers!

Larry 

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I bought my first car in college in 1980. It was a 1966 Chevy Impala Convertible with 25000 miles, original paint, interior, top, etc and even the original spare with the green stuff on the whitewall. It was owned by AACA pioneer N. O. Geisenger from Dover, Ohio that had owned various brass cars, classic era Pierce Arrows and had toured around the country in the 1940's, 50's 60's and 70's but had sold everything with a heath scare in the mid 1970's. He got better and bought this babied 1966 Impala from the original owner in 1976 with only 14000 miles. He put another 11000 miles on it in four years but due to declining health again put it up for sale. As Geis was a member of our Canton, Ohio AACA club and friends of my parents, my Dad encouraged me to buy it which I did. I stored it away at home while in college at OSU used it mostly for AACA tours joining the Southern Ohio Chapter after I moved to Cincinnati in 1984. It was used in our wedding, to bring kids home from the hospital after birth but mostly touring(yes got the used car comments a lot in the 80's and 90's) and has racked up another 25000 miles in 35 years of my ownership. Yes, I still own it and have only replaced tires(original spare is on a stand)battery and rebuild the water pump so far. Plan to rebuild the brake system over the winter as the rubber lines are scary. Had it out a week ago with the top down for short ride on a back road last week.

Tom Muth

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I used to love telling the story of my 1st car, but since I was forced to sell it due to no job or income just recently ... it's a bit painful to tell.

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve | 1979 Caprice Classic (awaiting new owner)
"There must be a reason for this pain I'm going through" __ Merle Haggard __ 'A Better Love Next Time'
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First car was a $350 1966 Impala 4 door, only power steering and an AM radio. My Mom and Step-dad bought it for me. They got tired of me bringing home the 74 Cutlass on Sunday nights with no gas left in the tank. They paid the insurance and I did all the rest. It was 1976 and I worked at Arby's nearly 40 hours a week. I drove the crap outta that car. and sold it for $250 a couple years later with the rear end going out of it.

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Your first car is like your first kiss, the memories are always better than the reality.  My first car was a 1972 Mustang Mach1, it had 4 different size tires on it, the guy was getting divorced and wanted the cash fast.  $600 bucks later I was fixing it in the driveway.  He called me up a week later and asked if I wanted the original magnum 500 wheels.  Wish I had never sold it...most likely just a better memory.

 

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In these parts we had a first car we owned and usually some years later we were old enough to license one, well just have a license. I told about the first Buick ripping saw my Grandmother gave me.

The first car I actually licensed and drove legally is possibly this 1950 Spcial that showed up on Craigslist a couple of months ago:

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I bought the car in 1965 and it was driven up to Western New York from West Virginia during the cultural impact of a glass factory opening in town, I put four "new" 7.60 X 15 Firestone recaps on it and that was about all. The guy wanted $3,000 which wasn't too bad. I toyed with the idea but found I wasn't sentimental enough to commit to the refurbishing expense. And I already have a much better car that I bought when I was 30.

 

I saved the pictures, but, like they say in the Snickers commercial, no regerts.

 

I'm pretty sure it is still wearing the tires I bought.

 

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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The year was Xmas 1970.

Dad had driven this well used 1958 Buick Limited he had picked up for just over two years commuting back and fourth to work 60 miles each way till just before Xmas, the rear universal totally broke about 10 blocks from home! I was 15 at that time and with him when it let go. I'll never forget the noise from inside that enclosed torque tube! :wacko:

We walked those 10 blocks home in the snow (sound just like my dad - ha ha), found some rope and jumped into Mom's '64 Olds to tow her home. I had been with dad fooling around with cars for awhile now with him having an Overland and a Whippet so he told me to jump in the Limited and use the brakes carefully when we had to slow down since it would still run but not drive. Things went slowly (noisy) but well, being mostly in a residential area and when we got to our street he stops, comes back to me and says, "I'm going to pull this thing up on the front lawn so don't use the brake".  :o

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It sat there till I started talking about having my own car when I get my drivers license in June (1971). Since two of my friends were driving late 50's Chev's that had been tweaked and Dad had noticed them, told me that I was not going to get a hopped up Chev and be on his insurance! :angry:

Instead he suggested we go to the local auto wreckers, find a used rear end and together swap it out and it would be mine. :D

Drove it that summer and winter as my everyday wheels (when I could afford the gas after paying dad's increase on his insurance for adding me). Worked two part time jobs that spring knowing I would have my freedom that summer and then... doesn't this come looking for me....

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But wait, that's my second car not my first! I still have those two and added two more and......

See "the rest of the story" on my thread http://forums.aaca.org/topic/213853-me-my-1958-buick-1958-buick-1958-buick-and%E2%80%A6%E2%80%A6/

 

 

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It sat there till I started talking about having my own car when I get my drivers license in June (1971). Since two of my friends were driving late 50's Chev's that had been tweaked and Dad had noticed them, told me that I was not going to get a hopped up Chev

 

 

That's a familiar story. A few cars after my first I was 17 and about a month away from HS graduation (1966) and needed a better car.  My Father had already informed me that there was not going to be a 327 or a 409 Chevy in our yard. He liked cars a lot and had owned a new Chevy or Ford every three years since 1953. He found me a dream car at the Ford dealership in the next county, about 6 miles away. It was a brown full size 1961 Ford station wagon with a stick six. It was about $500 at the time.

He had raised me to like sharp cars. This was not. You had to look deep to see the qualities of the Ford and I wasn't interested in looking that deep.

Since we were thinking cars, together, and serious, I hit him in a weak spot. He always loved the Austin-Healey 100 cars and all the ones in that style. Our local Buick dealer had a red 1961 3000 in stock. We went over to look as we silently agreed the Ford wagon was out of the running. I think the A-H was about $1100 at the time, a little pricey for a 17 year old, but in a month I was going full time at my Grandfather's tire shop and used car lot (we didn't sell stuff there good enough for me OR Dad).

 

When we got to the Buick dealership the red car was admired but there were obvious issues abut owning it. We never got into them because a fresh trade was sitting by the building. And we both liked it a lot:

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That was the car I drove to HS and the graduation party. No hot rod Chevy, no 327, and I'm sure Dad knew the Invicta had a 401. Even fathers overlook some details when the thoughts are in sync.

 

Some tastes never change. If he was around he would have liked this one too.

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Bernie

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