We all remember our first. Car, I mean. Mojo magazine asks people about the first record they bought; I’m interested in their first auto purchase.
Mine, for the record, was a 1962 Chevy Nova convertible, passed down from my uncle. It was a very cool car, fire-engine red, with a masking-tape peace sign on the driver’s door. My twin brother and I, who had just turned 16, put it there circa 1968-1969, when the Vietnam War was on and peace signs really mattered.
I responded emotionally to that Nova — its clean lines, its al fresco driving, its economical six-cylinder engine — and it influenced my car buying to this day. In my garage now is a 1963 Dodge Dart convertible, which is a combination of that first car and my second one (a ’63 Dart four door).
We buy cars with our hearts, not our minds, and we may end up owning dozens of them, but that first one is a big experience. And sometimes it gets to our deep-rooted experiences and beliefs.
John Tantillo, a marketing guy, says his first car was a black 1966 VW Fastback like the one at left. He loved it but his father hated it. Why? Because Dad was a confirmed “GM guy” who owned Chevys, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and Buicks. “He never made it to the Caddy, but, make no mistake, that was his goal,” Tantillo says.
The foreign car purchase sparked bitter arguments, and Tantillo sees a lesson there. “Back in the day, GM had this idea that they would build a car for each period of your family lifecycle. My father bought into that idea and he thought his son would too. Dad just didn’t understand what my automobile needs were—how practicality and the gas crisis had combined to make a foreign car the best choice. And neither did GM.”
Eric Adams’ first car, in 1990, was a Subaru Justy, about as unglamorous a vehicle as you could possibly find. It was “a subcompact with an 88-horsepower three-banger under the hood, titanically tiny tires, and seemingly endless swaths of grey vinyl wrapped all around the dash, seats, ceiling, and trunk,” he wrote in Men’s Health. “It was the last carbureted car sold in the United States and Europe, for heaven’s sake. It was blindingly white and uncool, just like me.”
And then the kicker: “But that was all okay, because it was mine.”
That pride of ownership is everything, when it’s your first car. You overlook daylight through the floorboards, bald tires, upholstery coming out in clumps.” It’s yours, it gets you around, it’s freedom.
You can tell your own first car story here, via Car Talk, and get it instantly animated. Those first wheels an important rite of passage—don’t underestimate the experience! Here's one of those first car adventures via a colorful video story: