My First Car: Part 1

Extra Mile Staff

Do you remember your first car? Of course you do. Perhaps you have fond memories of showing off your “hand-painted” ride or struggling with an unfamiliar transmission.

We asked drivers to tell us about their first cars – for better or worse – and what they meant to them. From used cars filled with so much spare change that they practically paid for themselves to Flintstone-esque cabin floors, we’re still chuckling at these stories. Check them out, and tell us what you remember most about your first car on Facebook.

The “No Smoking” Lesson

My first car was a teal blue Chevy Chevette – a.k.a. the Tin Can. One summer, while still in college, I was flying down I-95, flicking the ashes of a Virginia Slim out of the open window (the Tin Can had no A/C). Like many college grads, I enjoyed apartment living, but traveled home to take advantage of my parents’ sanitary, secure and free laundry facilities.

Then, I smell smoke. The cigarette ashes had flown out of my window and back through a passenger window, landing in my laundry basket. I pulled into the nearest rest stop, grabbed the smoldering clothes and watered them down in the public restroom. When I finally arrived home, humbled and humiliated, my gracious parents didn’t say a word. They knew that I had learned the “no smoking” lesson the hard way. — Sue P.

The Penny-Mobile

My first car was a yellow Subaru. My mother bought it for me from a co-worker for $50 when I was a sophomore in high school. The funny thing is that the back seat floor was covered in pennies. After I collected them, they totaled $23. So, all in all, the total cost of the car was $27. That $27 car lasted until my freshman year of college. I’d say that was a great investment. — Dawn B.

The Standard Transmission

My first car was a bright yellow 1973 Chevy Vega. My dad took me to the used car lot where he had already picked out the car and completed the transaction. When the dealer gave me the keys, I was SUPER excited! But once I got behind the wheel, it became apparent to me that there was a BIG problem. This car had three floor pedals and I had no idea what to do with them.

My dad had already driven off, essentially abandoning me, so the sales guy had to walk me through the basics of driving a standard transmission. Before I left, I asked him for a marker and a piece of cardboard on which I wrote, “NEW STANDARD DRIVER…STAY BACK!” I taped it in the rear window and chugged and stalled my way home. My dad was a trial-by-fire type of guy and this was no exception. — Maureen N.

The Yearbook

My first car was a (very) used 1991 Volvo 740 with something like 184,000 miles on it – the kind of boxy, maroon sedan that you might picture when you think of a Volvo. My older sister drove it first, and I paid her a savings-clearing $1,000 to make it mine when I turned 16.

When she bought it, there wasn’t any fabric on the ceiling, so it became a tradition for passengers to carve their names into the ceiling foam. By the time I was done with it, there were 5 years of high school history carved into that foam, a sort of yearbook of car rides.

I couldn’t tell you where I went the first time I drove it alone, but it couldn’t have been anywhere outside of a 5-mile radius. It wasn’t exactly the most reliable car, so any further would have been a risk. I learned to expect that it might not start at any given moment – an important life lesson for any young driver (but maybe I’m biased).

It was constantly in the shop, usually just for minor fixes. Once, after a quick fix that got it started again, I discovered a new feature: turning on my lights also turned on my windshield wipers! Not the best for night driving, but at least it was running! — Molly F

The Dream Car

I remember the year I turned 16. My main focus was getting my license. I signed up for my driving test the very first day I could and passed. The next day, my amazing parents came through with my dream car. It was supposed to be for my mom and me to “share,” but I sort of had that wonderful lady wrapped around my finger.

The car was a brand new white Dodge Shadow convertible with blue interior – a dream car for any 16-year-old girl. In hindsight, it was a terribly-made car and sounded like there was a bird in the engine from the first week I drove it.

That car was the backdrop to so many memories with my friends. I brought it to college in Boston my junior year, but by the time I graduated, it was hard to ignore the Shadow’s shortcomings. I traded it in for an embarrassingly low amount and signed a lease on a Nissan Altima. This transition to my first grown-up car was about more than just driving. It was about putting aside the careless revelry of my teenage years and embracing myself as a fully-realized adult. — Ellyn S.

The Green Dragon

It was 1972 when I bought a 1962 Ford Falcon for 100 bucks. It had been hand-painted (by brush) a bright emerald green. The passenger-side floor had a large hole, which had been covered by a piece of plywood. If you pushed the board aside, you would see the road beneath the car. The muffler was a little loud, too. Perhaps it was rusted or pitted.

One evening, I was giving my mom a ride. I’m pretty sure she was a bit embarrassed to be seen in the “Green Dragon,” but she never made any comments. When we came to an intersection, I noticed a police car on the right side of the road so I turned left to avoid them. That didn’t help.

The next thing I knew, there were lights flashing behind us. The officer told me that I had to have the muffler repaired, which I did. However, the weight of the new muffler and exhaust pipes pulled a chunk of the engine right off. Thus, the Green Dragon was slain. — David M.


Want to read more? Check out My First Car: Part 2. And whether you’re driving your first car or your fifth, make sure you have the right car insurance.

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