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Driver's Exam Car


George Cole
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I'm sure everyone remembers the car they used for their driver's exam.  Mine was my parent's 1964 Buick Electra 225 4-door hardtop.  They don't come much bigger than that...anything larger would probably have been classed as a limo.  Definitely not an easy car for parallel parking and 3-point turns on a narrow, 2-lane street, both of which I had to demonstrate to the examiner.  

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My high school drivers ed car was a 58 Chevy station wagon with dual controls so the instructor could slam on the brakes if you screwed up.  It had no seat belts!   It was 3-on-the-tree and with a bench front seat and a 6'7" instructor.  Some of us had a hard time getting the clutch pedal down far enough.

Such great memories!

Terry

 

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We didn't have driver's ed in my school, learned to drive in the Bahamas in a 40 Ford Tudor and a 50's Jeep CJ (tightest shift pattern I've seen). Think I took the test in a rented FIAT 1500 Spyder (small and so I didn't get the dread "automatic only" stamp). Tester asked where I learned to drive since a Florida resident & never had a learner's permit. Just told him "the Bahamas".

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Geez, I feel like I really missed all the fun - I had the joy of taking my Drivers' Ed in a K-Car 

 

image.jpeg.261dfa390a2665d79f0bb787586a95a8.jpeg

 

35 years later my in car instructor is still at it.  I do wonder a) How has she survived this long without losing her incredible patience? and b) how many students has see taught?

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I took driver's education in a plain Jane 1967 Camaro convertible. It was blue with a blue top and blue interior. It was a 6 cylinder car.  I have never seen another one exactly like it. Took my driver's test in my Dad's 1966 Chrysler 300 two door hardtop. It was red with a black vinyl top and black interior. I LOVED that car.

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)
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Took all of my on road driving instruction (10 2 hour lessons) and my driving test in the same car, a 1961 Morris Oxford with a full set of dual controls including 2 hand brakes.  My driving tester - who I knew - had a unique way of checking how well I parallel parked.  He bought a copy of the daily paper, rolled it up and when I parked the car he opened the door and shoved the paper down between the car and the curb.  It didn't fall over, so I passed!😁

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Our Linden (, NJ) HS Driver Ed. cars in the Autumn of 1959 were a 1957 Pontiac 4-door with Hydra-Matic, and a 1955 Ford coupe 6-cylinder with 3-on-the-tree, both on loan from local dealerships. The Pontiac came from Mrozek Pontiac on St. Georges Ave, where I later bought my first new car, a '69 Custom"S", before moving to New Orleans. I don't recall which dealer furnished the Ford, but it may have been Mrozek's Used car Lot.

My actual Driver License Test car was dad's 1957 Plymouth Savoy 4-door sedan with the 301 ci V8 and 2-speed Power-Flyte without power steering or power brakes.

I aced the test and soon bought my first real daily driver, my then 10 year old 1949 Pontiac red convertible with the straight-8 and 3-speed stick-shift and blue leather interior, and thanks to an Avanel, NJ junkyard, was able to source and install (thanks to dad's ingenuity) an almost new white vinyl Rayco convertible top. Expired NJ license plates provided patches for the rusted passenger floor-toeboard, and my Pep-Boys part time job paychecks covered a pair of whitewall recapped tires and the rebuilt clutch/pressure plate/throwout bearing which allowed me to get the NJ State inspection sticker.

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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Actually ours might have been a little harder to take a drivers test in. Hard enough that the examiner expressed his doubts before getting in. It was a 1965 International Travelall. At least it was 2wd and had power steering. Yes the examiner did pass me. Similar to this one.

 

1965 International Travelall 1

Edited by Fossil (see edit history)
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I took my test in my Dad's standard shift 289 Galaxie Fast-back.

776372429_001(5).jpg.757953d263c8edd9e1bd0957642d0254.jpg

 

He bought it new in 1963 and we had taken it to the 1963 Watkins Glen Grand Prix. It was pretty exciting to be a car kid with a Dad owning a car like that.

 

That was a long throw on the column shift lever to go into second. Saturdays we rode together to my grandfather's shop where we both worked part time. He'd wind it out pretty good in second gear on the way. "Gotta blow the soot off the spark plugs once in a while, you know."

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Relatively new at the time (+/- 1980 ?), 3-axle Scania COE Heavy truck w/ air brakes, 6- or 8-spd trans and 2-spd rear-end, etc , which I had received my first and most of the subsequent (minimum) 40 hrs of instructed driving/operating lessons before being even allowed to take the test, which itself took over 90 minutes and included everything from parallel parking this huge truck between small passenger cars on busy old-world (European) metropolitan city streets, backing into narrow alleys and their loading docks to freeway driving and operating all PTO features (= boom/swing crane, dump, lift-gate and roll-off/roll-on bed transfer, etc ALL on the same chassis/truck).

 

And yes, I didn't quite pass the first time, but due to inspectors compassion/understanding the cause of mishap (theoretically, not my fault), he only assigned me the minimum required additional lessons (2 or 4 hrs, IIRC ?) before I could re-take the test (which I did pass). 

 

All these lessons were paid by yours truly to one of numerous private drivers education schools (read not cheap*) commonly employed by vast majority of population in the society I grew up in.

Very small percentage of parents (usually fathers) try/will provide drivers ed for their offspring, but since it requires their car (temporarily, for the duration of schooling) modified/upgraded to instructor/passenger side brake & clutch pedals + state issued instructor testing & licensing for that parent, etc., most will not bother.

 

* Cost, at the time, would probably equal to, in today's $$'s, something like a 1000, if not more.

Regular "passenger car", i.e. car & 2-axle pickup/van up to 1/2-ton license was maybe 30-40% less, but if obtained separately, i.e. first the car, then Heavy truck, latter would've ended up costing 20-30% more.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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I hadn't even considered advanced licenses when I began the thread.  My father was owner-operator of a small trucking business, with several sized dump trucks up to and including twin-screw 10-wheelers, a straight flat bed truck for hauling hay, bagged fertilizer, and milk cans from farms, as well as two 10-wheel tractors with two different trailers for hauling concrete blocks, bagged fertilizer, sod, and bulk coal.  I drove them all on learner's permits, although never got my license on any of them.  I'm surprised at the number of folks who had professional driving instruction.  I never heard of driving schools or even driver's education in the small town school I attended.  

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Round one of my road test took place in a friend's '64 Pontiac Tempest 2-door sedan, six cylinder, manual steering and brakes.  Several things went wrong that day, including my friend forgetting to bring his driver's license and registation to the road test.  In his rush to get back to the testing site, he backed into a pole and bent the bumper on the Pontiac.

 

On to round two.....

This time I had my father's '65 Dodge Coronet.  The inspector was a New York State Trooper, so I began mentally preparing for Round 3.  Surprisingly, he was very laid-back about the whole thing.   He lit a cigarette, flicked ashes out the vent window, and had me make a 3-point turn on the narrowest street  in town.  "I know it'll take more than 3 moves...take as many as you need".  Things were looking up.  I completed the rest of the test, and when the trooper got out of the car, he told me to wait for my license to come in the mail before I drove again (also against the rules...the inspector wasn't supposed to tell you if you passed or failed).

 

Mission accomplished! 

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Well, I began driving my grandfather's Fordson tractors, sitting on my dad's lap. When I was three, I was steering them, and working the hand throttle (probably one of the reasons I am so comfortable in a model T Ford!). At four, I began working the gearshift lever, with dad or grandpa working the clutch. I first drove solo when I was six, after showing them I could work the clutch myself. And at seven, I was pulling trailers out of the orchards myself. I was also driving the forklift about then. I haven't driven a real tractor since my grandpa retired when I was about twelve.

 

I don't remember what our driver-trainer cars were in high school. They were modern and I couldn't have cared less.

 

In 1968, when I was to get my license, The old Chevy my mom drove had blown the engine, and just been sold off. My parents had ordered a new station wagon, but it wasn't due for delivery for a couple months (special ordered). My dad drove either the '59 Chevrolet station wagon for much of his service work, or the 1951 3/4 ton Chevy pickup when he needed the carrying capacity. My mom would drive whichever he wasn't driving. I often worked with my dad, and learned to drive both, both having a manual shift. The pickup often got driven into mountainous areas for cable television service work, and was worked really hard. My dad, along with me, had taken it up a nasty narrow, muddy mountain road to repair a system serving a small town, and really badly overheated the clutch. It still worked, but it was tough to shift. My parents needed me to help with some driving and errands, and were looking forward to me getting my license more than I was. I had actually waited a bit longer than I had to, but we decided to go get the test taken because they were going to need me to drive one of the trucks. Days before the planned test, my mother was driving the station wagon, which they were planning to keep, and stopped at a railroad crossing because the wigwag signals were waving and flashing (this was just a couple years before Califunny required ALL railroad crossings to be gated). The idiot way behind her wasn't paying any attention whatsoever, and slammed into the back of the stopped station wagon at about 40 mph. Her car was shoved onto the tracks literally feet in front of the slow moving train. Fortunately, she kept her wits about her, got the badly damaged car back into gear (it had popped out when hit!) and got off the tracks just before the train would have hit.

The station wagon was totaled. Frame bent, rear end off to one side and at an angle. So, I took the driver's test in the old pickup with the burned out clutch! I had gotten pretty good at not chattering the clutch when shifting, and that was not easy. So I did as best I could trying to hide the fact that the truck was not up to safety standards. It was really fun that heavy thing, parallel parking in a tight space, trying to not chatter the bad clutch. After driving around town and eventually going back to the DMV, he started going on and on about every little mistake I made! However, I hardly heard a word of it. I had heard enough tales of kids at school taking the test, that I knew a failure resulted in a line drawn and initials and a signature. The whole time he was telling me all I did wrong, he was filling out several forms and papers and signing and initialing. The whole time he was telling me what I had done wrong, I knew I had passed. Most the high school kids knew which of the testers were easy, and the ones that were really tough, I got the worst one. I still passed, the first time, and with a fried clutch.

Then the next fun began. He read my dad the riot act for allowing me to drive a truck with a bad clutch! He had no way of knowing the car I was supposed to use had been wrecked only days before.

Edited by wayne sheldon
I hate leaving typos! (see edit history)
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My DMV test car was this 100%  air conditioned Model A Ford of 1929 Vintage nick named "The Fun Car"

 

A true jalopy in Derusto "pom pom"yellow livery with blue and white striped tassled awning top.

Rear seat was an old Howard Johnson double booth seat and the whole gaudy mess rolled on black 17" Ford wires or 49 Merc wheels for going to the beach.

 

Feb.1977 on a dry clear day,my road test was driving out of sight and then some of the DMV parking lot and parking to B.S. with the examiner who said" what are doing here? You know how to drive!"

 He had been seeing me piloting this heap around town since I was 13.(at 6 foot you can get away with that).

 

Prior to the road test I did pass the eye and written test.

 

My father mother,sister,aunts,uncles,

cousins and of course most of my school friends all had time behind the wheel and learned the double clutch down shift skill.

 

The car had seat belts !

 

 

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Took my drivers' ed in 1976. By that time I had driven everything one could mention. Our high school, which was fairly new at the time had a dedicated drivers course which covered all of 9 acres. it has intersections, two lane runs, parallel parking spots, ect. It really was nice. Anyway, we had 1 hour of drivers' ed every day for two weeks. That year the local Buick dealership loaned the school 2 of their brand new Opel GTs. 4 speed of course! The class was asked how many could drive a stick and luckily only 2 of us could. So, myself and the other guy had a car to ourselves for the entire hour while the others had to drive for 15 mins each. Just imagine, a drivers course that had a back straight away that was longer than the straight away at Indy. I wish I had some pics to post. I then went to the DMV in a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 with a 390 and a 4 speed!  I also got my motorcycle endorsement by just saying I had riden a dirt bike for 10 + years.

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6 hours ago, George Cole said:

I hadn't even considered advanced licenses when I began the thread.  My father was owner-operator of a small trucking business, with several sized dump trucks up to and including twin-screw 10-wheelers, a straight flat bed truck for hauling hay, bagged fertilizer, and milk cans from farms, as well as two 10-wheel tractors with two different trailers for hauling concrete blocks, bagged fertilizer, sod, and bulk coal.  I drove them all on learner's permits, although never got my license on any of them.  I'm surprised at the number of folks who had professional driving instruction.  I never heard of driving schools or even driver's education in the small town school I attended.  

And mind you that my “advanced”(?) license was my first/initial one and did include some, maybe 10 hrs of  (also required) passenger car instructed driving lessons, not to mention (mandated minimum) 40 hrs of class room attendance before I was allowed to take the 90+ minute written test, which had to be passed before one was allowed a driving test.

 

Another thing was that one had to be 18 y.o. before allowed to start drivers ed and there was a less expensive option, including IIRC, 30/30 hrs, but that wouldn’t allow operating anything beyond 1/2-ton pickup/van and/or two axles, so I just bit the bullet and went all the way.


Not bad for an orphan with no formal education (dropped out after 8th grade with worse grade average in the history of the entire school district, probably still standing “record” today) while clinging to a shi**y job and waiting to get assigned/drafted to (mandatory for all males) military service.

Oh, and while enthusiastically attempting to rebuild/restore my first vintage car, I had bought couple of years earlier in the condition that would’ve probably been worth more in scrap metal (never finished it, but managed to sell it to another idiot with way too much ambition and more money than common sense).

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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"Drivers Ed"? We never heard of that at my small high school; nor sex ed either, for that matter. Somehow I learned both. I learned to drive and took my test in my Dad's 1955 Chevy 210 4-door sedan; 265 V-8 with Powerglide. By that time I had also had plenty of experience with a manual transmission and clutch driving up and down our driveway in my 1928 Chrysler. I wasn't allowed to take it on the street. The driveway was fairly steep and lots of practice taught me how to start smoothly on a steep hill without rolling backwards  and down-shift without clashing gears by double clutching. I'm sure the neighbors were happy when I finally got my license and could take the old Chrysler (which had no muffler) elsewhere. 

 

Don

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I started driving motorcycles when I was 8, so I had an idea how to clutch. First vehicle I drove at 14 or 15 was a '67 F100, 3 on the tree, 390cu in. I got my license in 1980, cant remember the drivers ed car, but it was probably a fairmont? Took my license test in a brand new VW dasher 5 speed diesel. Pop had just traded an Olds 98, I just missed out on that one!! Waiting for school drivers ed was gonna put me into my senior year, so I took classes at Montgomery Ward, and had my license in the 10th grade. About 2 months  after my car license I took the motorcycle test on my brothers Kawasaki Mach III 500.  Its been awhile and my memory is skewed a bit  but I think I was 18 when I took my driver test for my dump truck license (state law maybe?) No schooling needed for that, read through the manual a couple of times and a road test. I did the road test in an International flat bed lumber truck borrowed from the local lumber yard. Pop was good friend with the owner. That was later rolled into a class A cdl.

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  Driver's Ed car was a '78 Chevy Malibu. I had learned to drive long before I was 15 and must've done a pretty good job, my instructor fell asleep one day while I was driving. I took my driver's test in my parent's '73 Malibu Estate Wagon, just like the one pictured. They bought it new in the spring and we took it on a six week, cross country vacation that summer. It had that rear-facing back seat. I didn't last long on the highway facing backwards. 🤢

73 wagon.jpg

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I took the drivers test in my Mom’s 1967 Camaro RS Convertible. I also had my first date in this car and other firsts we will not discuss. Also had 9 people in it after a football game with the top down when we drove to a bonfire party. Few weeks later the right spring broke. Dad never knew why.  Below is a picture from a few months ago. Yes I have it. My Dad bought it in 1972 from his boss for $500 for my Mom as she did not have a car. They were very involved in AACA starting in the 1970’s and would drive this car on tours when his 36 Ford Phaeton was not running( I still have that too and it is not running at the moment.) In later years till Dad passed  in 2015, they alway drove it on tours. After that and my Mom moved to our town, I brought it here and took her on some local tours in the Camaro. Dad had put a new top on about 15 years ago but never would put it down. Mom said, lets do it. She passed in 2018 and we drive the Camaro more that any of our other collector cars. My wife loves to drive it with her girlfriends on summer outings with the top down. It has lots of dings and some rust but I don’t think I will restore it as we don’t have to worry about it in parking lots and the top does not leak when it rains unlike some of my other cars.  I have some of the other first cars from first ride from Hospital(57 T Bird), first car I ever drove(1911 Ford at age 13) and my first car(1966 Chevy Impala convt). Have to do a post some day on those. 

 

Tom Muth

Cincinnati, Ohio 

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Tom, I tried to buy one of those around 1981. It was an rs/ss convertible. White with a gold nose stripe. Guy wanted 2500. I wanted to borrow the money from pop but he said a car that old wasnt worth what they were asking for. It was mint original condition as well!

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Driver's ed car was a 1962 Chevy 4 door sedan powered by a 6 cylinder mated to a stick transmission.  The make or break test for passing the road portion of driver's ed was stopping and parking the car halfway up a steep hill on a country dirt road.  Had to then restart and continue up the hill       with rolling backward or stalling the engine.  My license test car was my parents' 1956 Olds 88 4 door sedan, with the test administered by the county sheriff.  Currently have the '56 Olds Super 88 in my avatar. Reliving my youth, it seems.  🙂

 

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I took my exam in a 47 Dodge and failed for "improper use of the transmission". The examiner said, "too bad, try again when you learn to drive a stick shift" I tied to explain but he was adamant. I went inside and told the manager that I didn't think the guy had ever seen a car with fluid drive. He said that he used to have one and said let's see. He got in and said to drive around the block. I did and got my license that day

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I was just telling my girlfriend about this thread so I asked her about her test.  Got an answer I never knew possible, she rented a cab to take her test!  Then the car died sideways in the street when she attempted an illegal U turn after the officer said to go back to the start point.  The officer drove her back and she still passed!  She's a pretty good driver now but can't drive clutch so she doesn't touch the old cars!

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8 hours ago, Ben P. said:

Unfortunately I had to take driver’s training in ⬇️ wafting boat

 

God awful thing. It will always be my definition of a terrible crummy car. Stunk too. Never figured out what the smell was but I’d recognize it if I smelled it again. 

 


 

Funny, but I had one of the 1980 Thunderbird cars in college and it was great. Even though it was a 6 cylinder, the AC always worked and I kept getting speeding tickets whenever I hit the highway home... I will admit it wasn’t made for racing, and it was a boat, but wafting just doesn’t seem like the right description of mine, plus the back seat was quite comfortable for those certain summer activities...

 

My driver’s test was done in dad’s 1974 LTD Station Wagon... Now THAT was a wafting boat. It also had a serious duty hydraulically activated power brake booster and could screech tires if you weren’t very soft on the pedal. I hated that...

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The driver's ed car was a brand new '89 Beretta (are there any left?) My January birthday meant I drove in September; later in the year the car got totaled when a 3rd party ran a light. My instructor had once been my dad's gym teacher and was really surprised I'd never really driven anything. 

 

I used my first car, a 67 Impala with a powerglide, for my first attempt but trying to do a 3-point turn or parallel park that boat? I was sunk! the test was conducted in a closed course behind the DMV and the turn had to take place within this odd "box" that extended off to one side. My car wouldn't even fit in that box. 33 years later and I still don't understand what they wanted...a few weeks later I returned with mom's 72 Benz 240 which was a dream in comparison. 

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I’m pretty sure our driver’s ed car was a K car. I took my test in a 80 GMC 4WD PU similar to the photo I found on the Internet, except it had a plow frame on it. My dad said if they ask why you are driving a PU, tell them it’s what you will be driving. I think he thought they’d have an issue with it, but I loved that truck. Lots of fun times in high school with it. Still love PU’s, I have a Tundra currently. 

19A50EE3-850D-4B26-B0A9-71D4AD088F8B.jpeg

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
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