We forget a lot of the comings and goings from our past. Many of the people, places and happenings from our youth become fuzzy around the edges as we move into adulthood. But, there are exceptions. Pieces of our youth that leave indelible imprints that are easily fetched from our memory banks. Our first car falls squarely into that category. Very rare is the individual—regardless of age—that cannot recall—in minute detail—everything about his or her first car. Our first car was our first taste of freedom of movement.
The First Car
My first car was not fresh off the showroom flow. My first car—a 1968 Camero, purchased in 1975—was a $400 eye-sore. It was silver (sort of) and its surface was ~ 50% Bondo Body Filler. Fortunately, the Bondo was grey in color which helped create a wonderful mosaic of blandness across the entire surface of my dream machine. The interior was ~ 70% “pleather” interrupted by 30% yellow foam where the pleather had burst its seams. It had no AC—a minor inconvenience in the Texas heat—and the windshield wipers only seemed to work when it was not raining. For some unknown reason it was equipped with a steering wheel roughly the diameter of a cantaloupe which, combined with non-power-steering, made driving seem more like wrestling. But, despite all of its warts, I loved that first car and I certainly got more than $400 worth of joy from it.
Our First Taste of Mobile Freedom
There was nothing to compare with the pure unadulterated joy of first car ownership. No more having to ask to borrow your parent’s car in order to avoid the indignity of having to walk, or, ride your lame bike, to your destination. No more crippling embarrassment at having to have your mom or dad deliver you to school or some social event. Now—as long as you had gas money—you were the commander of your own destiny. You had your own set of keys! If the urge struck, you could now hop in your car and just drive. You did not have to have a destination. That first exposure to freedom of mobility was exhilarating and would never be equaled. It was your car!
As with all things—even the most sublime—the feelings began to wear off. Familiarity has that effect. Throughout adulthood we still thrilled at the purchase of a new vehicle but the thrill lies more in the fact that the vehicle is new. We are temporarily mesmerized by the ubiquitous new gadgets that are rolled out every couple of years. The attachment to the vehicle is more superficial, less emotional. The new car is nice but it does not come close to the wallop provided by our first car.
Gone But Not Forgotten
When I was finally able to trade up I sold my ugly 1968 Camero. I got a whopping $300 for it. Not bad. It only depreciated by $100 during my 18-month ownership! I sold it to a kid a couple of years younger than me. It was his first car. I bet he enjoyed it as much as I did.
The first thing he did was remove that stupid cantaloupe steering wheel!