Remember your first car?

Do you remember your first car? I know I do and I’d be willing to bet that most of you all do as well. Before I get to what my first car looked like, let me ask you something else, did you get your first car at 16, right when you got your license?  The reason I ask is that we are approaching a big milestone in our family. Our oldest child is approaching his 16th birthday and you can imagine what his single, zeroed-in, focus is on.

 His First Car!


An example of a typical conversation with #1 as I shuttle him to his engagements:

Son:  Did you see that?

Mom: What? Where?

Son: That car you just passed.

Mom: Was the driver texting and driving? Can you read the license plate?

Son: No.

Mom: Did they have a toddler not properly restrained in a car seat? Man, that makes me so mad.

Son: Mom, no, did you see the car?  That car is legit.

*note: Legit does not refer to its legal road status, although we can hope.

Even though many of his friends who have turned 16 did in fact get their own car for their birthday, some of them NEW cars (what the what???), we have explained that doesn’t always happen. He may have to use his dad’s car, or perhaps mine. Oh, the horror in his eyes when faced with the idea of driving a ‘Mom-Car’!  I might have uttered something about beggars can’t be choosers and his feet can get him places.

But this got me thinking back to my first car.  I did share my mom’s car for a while.  I had to drive my sister around too and run errands, but I didn’t care.  I was driving!  But soon, it was time for me to get my own set of wheels. One day we saw an old Volvo parked in our neighborhood with a For Sale sign. It was a 1977 Volvo. It had mustard yellow paint and dark brown interior and I loved it! It was $1500 and my mom, dad and I all split it.  I named it The Pineapple.


That car drove great and it was safe.  It did develop one idiosyncrasy. The driver’s door handle stopped opening from the outside.  This meant that I had to unlock the passenger side, lean through and push the door open and run back around.  OR—what usually happened is that I got in the passenger side and climbed over the center consol in my mini-skirt that matched my big 80’s hair and tassle boots.  (I know you’re all glad I couldn’t find a picture!)

I had a friend who had a bright orange Thing! Man, that car was ‘legit’, let me tell you!


I think the best first car ever was my best friend Kimberly’s.  She had an old tan Karmann Ghia.  Sure, it sounds all cool, and trust me, it was.  But it had a few idiosyncrasies of its own. First, it stalled ALL the time. Our high school was up on a huge hill and you had to inch your way up with all your classmates. When your car stalled on the way up that hill, everyone knew and they are all watching you get going again. To this day I swear that was the best practice on learning to drive a standard anyone could get.

But the really unique feature of her car was that the driver’s door wouldn’t stay closed.  A hard right turn and the door would fly open.  We felt the safest solution to this was to bungee cord the door handle to the emergency break.  Sure, if she turned REALLY sharp, the door would still fly open but it slammed back pretty fast. Safety first, people!

Our cars were part of who we were.  We drove them loaded down with our friends to our off-campus lunch.  We took them to the beach. Yes, we drove them more than a few times down to the border of Mexico for a night of well-behaved frivolity in Tijuana.  Ah, the memories!

I think your first car needs to have some bumps and bruises. It should be safe, without a doubt, but a showcase car it should not be! First cars are the makings of stories and memories. It’s a right of passage and the more character and quirkiness the better!

So, as I negotiate this first car milestone with my son, I want to hear about YOUR first cars. I know there are some great stories out there.  Take a trip back to your teenage years and the feeling of getting behind your own set of wheels, freedom calling your name … and tell us all about it!


About Ginger Calem

I never met a notebook I didn't want to buy. Pens speak to me. Sticky notes are dear to my heart. Some of my best friends are those clambering in my head trying to get onto the page. And when they have their stories told, and I release them to the world, I hope they'll be your friends too.

Posted on November 14, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. I totally agree! The first car should be solid, dependable, and a complete tank of a car. One with bumps and bruises and mileage. One that has seen it all and lived to tell. One that smells of someone else’s french fries. Mine was a turquoise – yes, turquoise – Datsun B210. I thought it was the hottest car ever! I have a picture of me posing on the hood. That car never drove a week at a time without breaking down. Oh the stories and memories I have now. A clunker is a rite of passage, that’s so true. How else will someone truly appreciate when they are able to buy their first brand new (or nearly new) car?

  2. Shannon Esposito

    My brother is 6’7 and his first car was a Karmann Ghia, he took out the driver’s seat and drove from the back seat…lol. I got mine for my 16th birthday but it wasn’t the 69 Camaro I was begging for. It was a VW diesel rabbit. I actually did grow to love that car though, pink fuzzy dice and all. 🙂

  3. My first car had this idosyncracy where the gas gauge would stick on a quarter tank and then suddenly plummet to zero leaving you stranded. I ran out of gas a LOT. My whole family, as you can guess, really loved this feature.

  4. Love this post. My first truck was named Vernon, and was so old it actually had GRANNY GEAR! No lie.

    And my heart smiles at your old Volvo. When I was 12 my mom and I were hit by a train in one just like it, only chocolate brown. It saved both our lives. Some day I’ll drive a shiny new C30 in memory of that car and my mom. 🙂

  5. Awesome Ginger! I was thinking about doing a similar post. Great minds and all that. I still have my first car. Dad made me go in my uncle’s garage and help them take the engine apart and get the thing running again so I would have something to drive. The hood didn’t even want to open back then. It is a 1962 Buick Skylark. A real pain to find parts for these days but I love her. My dad got a new paint job on her while I was on tour between my junior and senior year and after that – crazy! People would come up to me in the street and at the drive-thru offering to buy the car off me. And before that I hated the car. LOL I guess you could say she has grown on me over the years.

  6. Hey Ginger, I’m wondering if we live near each other ~ I remember trips to T.J. when I was supposed to be at a school dance or something!

    My first car was a 1972 Chevy Luv. That’s right, a little white pick up truck of luv. Dang, I miss that thing. It was awesome! I could pile two dozen of my closest friends in the back and head off to the beach. Of course, now you can’t have people in the back of trucks, but in my day (when gas was .75 cents a gallon), you could. Ah, thems were the days.

    I didn’t actually buy my first car until five years ago. Until then, I kept getting hand-me-downs from my husband. Then one day I decided I was a big girl and wanted a new car. I ended up getting a used car (which was totally great since I have kids and dog I didn’t mind the mud on the carpets or sand in the back), but it was mine, all mine! My husband has a zippy little sports car that he looooooves, and I have my SUV. My son is 13 and has been eyeing both our cars, but 1) no way is he getting a high-performance sports car! and 2) I’ve only had my car 5 years, he’s not getting my baby. So, he’s on his own. ; )

  7. Oh Sister, I can’t believe there isn’t a photo of the pineapple!??!! I bet Mom has one fairly easy to get to. If we find one, we must post it to show everyone how awesome it and you looked!! No one did the 80’s as fantastic as you did! I was literally CRACKING up reading the stories about the Pineapple and Kim’s car too. I remember them all to well and reading the stories made remembering them even better. It also helps knowing the exact spot where her car stalled on that hill corner up the driveway. 😉

    I of course shared Mom’s car too at first. I think I was 18 or 19 when I actually bought that Nissan Stanza from Carolyn. It was also $1500 and I split the cost with Mom and Dad too. I remember although the car was 10years old, it looked nearly brand new inside! Carolyn always had papers all over it and the interior never saw the sun and she never had children to ruin it that way either 😉 lol I loved putting stickers all over the back window hoping everyone would read them and know just how cool I was. Haha! Yes, the “Molly Mobile” was an awesome ride and took plenty of trips to TJ too.

  8. Oh my gosh, your comments are making me smile from ear to ear! See, I just knew we’d all be on the same page! {{{Group Hug}}}

    Melinda: I absolutely love your thought that it should smell of someone else’s french fries! And you have to post a picture of you posting on your turquoise Datsun.

    Shannon: 6’7″ in a Karmann Ghia … just WOW!

    Liz: How come it’s so easy for me to picture you constantly running out of gas? *wink*

    Myndi: What the heck is Granny Gear for a truck? And ‘Vernon’ … freaking fab! Volvos are the bomb of safely. That doesn’t sound right but you know what I mean! 🙂

    Deb: You must do the post! I love this kind of thing and hearing everyone’s stories. And that is pretty much the coolest thing ever that you had to basically build your car. Holy Helpful in life Batman! I wish I could do that. Seriously, I really do wish I could. And I think it’s amazing that you still have it. Pictures!!!

    Tameric: I grew up in UC on the southern fringe of LaJolla. Your truck sounds awesome. I remember those days of riding in the back of pick ups. Now I won’t let my children share seatbelts. I’m like a safely nazi when it come to cars. I have an SUV now too and love it. It’s paid off and has a ton of miles. My next car will be another SUV and them maybe I can go smaller when I’m not lugging sports gear and kids and stuff around everywhere!

    Molly: We have to have mom mind those pictures. I have some too but I do think they’re in my garage and well, you know the rest of that story. Funny thing is that Kim and I were stuck on a hill this summer. Her VOLVO didn’t want to drive up the driveway and I had to encourage it to do what I wanted it to do. Haha!!

    • Maybe I will Ginger. But I will probably take a different spin on it so that our posts are not the same. I have different angles I can use where cars are concerned. Pictures? I have plenty of those! But there is one up on my blog already. You can see my baby here: I have owned three hard tops and 1 convertible since I fell in love with her. I parted out one hardtop and eventually ended up selling the other (seen in the back of the picture on my post). The convertible was a project car that I never did get to. She eventually became someone else’s project. 😦

  9. Great post Ginger!

    Love the volvo. Safe as a tank! Shannon’s comment about her brother, hilarious. And I remember the Chevy Luv Tameri! Oh the memories.

    Well sorry to say I never did receive my first car. My parents wouldn’t buy me a car. It wasn’t until I got married that I had a car. Although at the time I was able to drive my mother’s Dodge Charger. Not a bad car. I would race my guy friends all the time. I loved it.

    Uh oh, Ginger I didn’t say that to make you worried about your son and the driving thing. But seriously, like Tameri, I think we live close to each other, so do us a favor, when he does start driving, give us a heads up and we’ll stay off the roads! lol

  10. My first car was an ugly brown VW Rabitt with an 8 track player, but hey, it was mine! The gas gauge did not work, so I had to keep track of miles driven and pull in to station when I thought my math was right.
    What I loved most about the car, was after a rain. Whenever I braked, everyone in the car would have to lift there feet because water would come rushing down from the back of the car.
    If that didn’t keep you on your toes, the fuel pump had annoying way of detaching itself. I can remember several times driving down the interstate and having to coast off hoping everyone would get out of my way.

    • OH. MY. GOSH! This takes the cake, Sandra. I can’t believe you’ve never told me stories about this. And yet, I’m not even the slightest surprised. What does that tell you? hahahahaha

  11. I got my first car when I was 18. It was a deal I made with my parents that if I went to a state school for college, I could have a car. My mom picked out the closest thing she could find to a tank. It was a 1984 brown volvo. I didn’t care what it looked like, it was a car! Plus, I saved up and put a nice stereo into it, so it was perfect.

  12. Granny gear is really, really, really, really slow. Really slow. It was an old farm truck before it became mine, and I think they basically used it for pulling tractors out of the mud. Very, very, very slowly.


  13. great post. I didn’t get a vehicle until after I was married and got my license…LOL – which was after my second child was born. I finally figured out that it was almost impossible to bus it around with two children. So i learned to drive. then I got the family car when my hubby bought a portable welding truck. LOL. The first vehicle I picked out was a one ton Ford SuperCab and we put an 11 ft camper on the back of that thing. I drove that truck everywhere and truly loved it – camper and all.

    thanks for the trip down memory lane. what fun.

    • Wow Louise, that is wild to me. When first child was born, were you in an area that you had neighbors or things in walking distance? It’s hard to imagine going that long without a license in the way I grew up. That said, I see the appeal of a living someplace with a great metro system, or like many places in Europe (where gas was and I still is very expensive) where they only drive for specific long trips etc. And, look at your mastering that big truck with the 11ft camper. Go YOU!

  14. My first car was actually a black GM truck. It had a good long life of 10 years with me (bought it used), and eventually started to disintegrate around me. The driver’s side window couldn’t be opened because it wouldn’t close, the heater died (try driving in a Canadian winter with no heater!), the CD player quit, the gas gauge no longer registered, and heaven forbid you tried to use the parking break (it’d get stuck on and ding for hours). I might still have it if my mom hadn’t driven it into a pole one day 🙂 (She’s fine but my truck sadly did not survive.)

  15. Aww, I love all these stories! I’m a little out-of-the-ordinary — I wasn’t allowed to get my license at 16 (my mom doesn’t think 16 year olds belong on the road, lol), and didn’t end up actually taking my test till I was 20. My first car, which I have had for almost 4 years now, is a 1995 Chevy 1500 pickup truck, and ohhhhh, man, I love it. It is my baby. The sad thing is that my cassette deck died a few months ago (I was using a cassette adapter for my iPod), and I hate not having music. But other than a few rumbling noises here and there, it runs wonderfully. I have to thank my dad for that. Even though I don’t live at home (I’m in grad school, and I live about 300 miles from my parents), my dad always takes care of it whenever I go home. He changes my oil, checks the brakes, takes it to get a tune up, and all those other automotive things that I *should* know about, but haven’t gotten around to learning.

    One day I’d like a smaller car (the whole fuel efficiency thing just doesn’t happen in old trucks), but I have to say, I’m terribly attached to my truck. It always makes the guys look twice when they seem me climbing out in my girly outfits and high heels. 😉

    • I agree with your mom. Even though in some ways I’m looking forward to another driver in the house, I honestly believe that most teens are really not mature enough for the responsibility of driving. I’m thinking if you can’t keep track of your own socks, a car … maybe not a good idea! 😉 Absolutely love the visual of you climbing out of your big truck in girly outfits and heels. That’s great!

  16. I didn’t get my first car until I was almost 18. And then I only got it for a few reason:

    1) My mom got tired of picking me up from cheerleading practice
    2) My sister was starting field hockey and my mom didn’t want to pick her up, too
    3) My great-grandma got hit hard by dementia so they took away her car.

    So my mom bought her car from great-grandma’s daughter (not my grandmother) for $800. It was a massive gray Pontiac 6000 and it had nuts in the air filter. It died on me twice and at the time I thought it was a piece of junk, but looking back, it really wasn’t so bad. It was huge, so I didn’t have to worry about getting crunched in an accident; it was old, so I didn’t have to worry about dinging it up a bit; it was reliable, aside from those two times it broke down; it lasted me a year with a lot of driving (I was in special programs at school that required me to drive 20 minutes one way for classes in another town, then work after school was another 20 minutes away in another town). Yeah, it may not have been ‘legit’ but it was good enough.

    • See, this sounds like a perfect ‘first car’. One of the perks of having a child driving is having them help with the carpooling of their siblings. I do plan to cash in on that perk, big time!

  17. My first car was a 4-door red Datsun. I called it my “Red Corvette!” I remember telling a few guys that I had a red corvette and they were so impressed until I explained it was just my pet name for it! Hahaha! I was always too honest!
    Great post and good luck! That is when my gray hair started coming in- LOL!

  18. My daughter got her first car this summer and our priority was definitely safety–so we got her a used Police Interceptor! It’s big, looks like an unmarked police car and even bullet proof (not that i was worried about that!). Anyway i secretly chuckle when my daughter complains that she can’t go a mile over the speed limit because no one in front of her will ever speed up–they think she’s a cop!!

  19. Oh Ginger, thanks for the walk down memory lane. My first car – a baja bug that my dad and I spent one whole summer “building.” We bought an old VW bug that our neighbor had been using to store chicken feed in. It was full of all kinds of ugly things, including black widow spiders. But by awesome dad, pulled in home with a chain wrapped around the bumper of his old pick-up truck and started welding, slicing, bondo-ing and after 3 labor intensive months, I had my beautiful shiny little baja bug. I called it my Baby Bug. There was never a more proud girl driving in to the school parking lot the first day of her senior year of high school! Loved that car.

    And the Thing – oh I remember the Thing. My best friend drove a Corvair that she and her dad had restored from crap. Fun times back in 198 – – -well, back in the day.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Patricia, your reply just made me smile. What a great experience to build that car. I love it!! See, that’s what I’m talking about. I want that kind of car/experience for my son. My friend regrets selling her Thing! I can’t blame her. Coolest ride ever! Thanks so much for stopping by and for following my blog!

  20. My first car was a 1963 lemon yellow convertible Corvair. An old family car. It was a total death trap with the engine in the back, but what a sweet ride. I’d drive it as fast as I could – maxing out at about 50 miles an hour – before it would start to shimmy. It got plenty of looks, alright. I think my dad sold it, but my brother and I ended up with matching Honda Civics. Not as flashy, but at least the steering wheel didn’t shake when I drove the freeway. Great post, Ginger!

    • Oh Diana, a lemon yellow convertible! How fun is that!! Well, minus the death-trap part of course. I am infinitely happy nothing happened to you. All of these stories have me determined to help my son get a safe first car but also one that will give him stories for a lifetime. Hey, wonder if I can get my hands on a Zamboni! *snerk*

  21. I guess I’m not old enough because I’m still driving my first car

  1. Pingback: Ginger Calem

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: