Cars and trucks may come and go over our adult life, and yet there’s just something about that first (and sometimes second) car that remains a point of attachment for all. Ask anyone what their first car was and you’ll receive no hesitation and no difficulty in remembering. Instead a literal off the cuff automatic response of a year, a model, make and color. If you’re lucky…a story and there’s no better place to find a few of those than in a coffee shop on a Thursday morning.
Cliff’s first car was a Mercury four door painted black metallic, which didn’t exist at the time so he had to make it out of aluminum paint. His second car however (as turned out to be the case for many I talked to) was his favorite. A black 1953 Mercury of which he pulled the motor and replaced it with an Oldsmobile motor to make it run fast. In 1959 Cliff and his car could be found speeding down a quarter mile drag race strip at Front Street and 435 in Kansas City. Though the original was replaced he still has the car to this day.
Steve started off his driving years with a 1955 Rambler which he described the top as an “upside down bathtub” and the seats as capable of folding all the way down. His second car was a 1965 red Olds Cutlass. Hence a love for that car ever since. He’s owned five of them now.
Steve’s wife Sue’s first car was a 1958 Nash Rambler, and the second she verbalized this the room responded in awe and a few “Really’s ?!”. Apparently the car only fit a few people comfortably though she once managed to fit 8 people in it. Oh to the days of high school car clowning. Sue’s next car was a 1964 Ford Thunderbird, and yes she still has it in the garage. The Silver exterior, black top and black interior remains in perfect condition although the engine and transmission have been removed.
Bob’s first car was a 1956 2 door Ford custom sedan. His second a 1954 pink and white two-door Ford Continental he picked up for $3000 in the 60’s. It actually had a glass top and power seats. The car managed to even survive running into a ditch when he let a friend drive it. Bob survived the potential backlash of his father seeing the damage.
John’s first car was a 1967 Mustang 289 automatic with a center console that rolled open. This gem was painted Oldsmobile blue with blinkers in the hood and to this day still in his garage. His father brought it home for him in July of 1986 leaving him to only dream of driving it for a month and a half until he turned 16.
Gina’s first car was as she put it “Nothing to talk about”, however the young man who drove a 1974 Plymouth Satellite was. It was the car she fell in love with at the same time she fell in love with the driver. He bought this first car when he was 16 after finding it out in an old country field on a local farmers land. The front fender was rusted as well as the left passenger door, including a few dents. Keith worked hard to be able to restore the car himself. As for Gina, she became his wife.
My first car, a 1980 sun faded blue Dodge Challenger didn’t show up in my life until after I was married. We bought it for $300 in 1993 and drove it for six years including two trips back from a hospital with a new baby in the back seat. The clutch cable snapped one day in the middle of nowhere on I-70 in Western Colorado. My husband in quick action removed the lace from his boots, tied up the clutch and got it home. I truly wish I still had it.
Often a first car is whatever you can afford that will get you where you want to go. For many it’s the first taste of personal freedom and independence while saving up for the second car- the one you really want. What was your first/second car? Do you still have it? We would love to hear your story!
By: Audrey Elder - Past to Present Research