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Thread: Remembering my first car

  1. #1
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    Default Remembering my first car



    The year was 1970, and I was about to enter the sophomore class at Northeastern University. While strictly speaking, I really didn't 'need' a car, I wanted the independence it represented. Living in Boston, but frequently driving down to New Jersey to visit my parents and friends, it was going to make life easier.

    So, against my father's better judgment, I cashed in my Bar Mitzvah bonds, and raised $1800 to buy one of these, brand new (mine was blue, not red, but the same model). It had a four speed transmission and 110 HP engine, which was a long stroke design... oodles of low end torque, unlike the Japanese cars that were just beginning to get popular.

    The bloom came off the rose rather quickly, though. While it had pretty good mileage (in an era when I was paying 23.9 cents/gallon for gas), I immediately noticed problems. The first was the dome light... I know, a trivially inconsequential thing, but annoying, when it began to burn out after only a couple of months. It seems that the poorly reinforced roof had a resonance that would vibrate the filament and destroy the bulb.

    That would have been pretty minor... but then I began to break the valence panel below the front bumper, whenever an errant stone flew up from the road. It was plastic, one of the earliest use of plastic panels in automobiles. The replacement panel wasn't expensive, but did not come painted, so I got pretty familiar with aftermarket paint, in spray cans.

    Then things got more serious. First, I notice that the oil consumption was rising... at a prodigious rate. I found myself having to check the oil frequently, and kept a few quart containers of oil in the trunk. It seems that the 'revolutionary' engine design was the cause; it was an aluminum block, with NO cylinder liners; supposedly, the aluminum had a high silicon content, and the cylinder walls were etched in manufacturing to leave a hard silica surface, which was supposed to wear well.

    It didn't.

    Then the rust started. Initially, on the left from quarter panel, just in front of the driver's door. I notice that MANY Vegas of the same year were showing rust in precisely the same spot. I began to invest in Bondo, and MORE spray paint, which never looked good, and didn't keep the rust from advancing. More rust, along the drip rails, the leading edge of the roof....

    The oil consumption increased, and my mentor at my co-op job suggested I bring the car to his mechanic, in Weston. The mechanic did nothing for the oil consumption, but told me that the universal joint on the driveshaft was failing, and rebuilt it... at what was, for me, a significant expense.

    Finally, the oil consumption got ridiculous.... a quart every 200-300 miles, and lots of blue smoke, with only 27,000 miles on the clock. Around this time, Chevy announced a recall, and gave me a brand new short block, no charge... and I figured that the engine problems were over.

    It was not to be; at 40,000 miles, the oil consumption was every bit as bad, and even worse. I began to scavenge used oil from my friends, just to keep the crankcase full, and was leaving quite a blue cloud, everywhere I drove.

    The end came at 47,000 miles, when I had the one and only auto accident in my entire driving career; I was hit at a crossroad, in the left front fender, a consequence of solar glare at an intersection in Norwood MA. Fortunately, the car was driveable, but I had had enough. I sold it to an electronic technician who worked at my company for $200... he was desperate for some cheap transportation. Two month later, the engine locked up... no oil.

    I replaced the car with a brand new Toyota Celica... one of the best cars I've ever owned.
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







  2. #2
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Mine was one of these for about 14 years:



    This is the view that got people nervous. For some reason, they never tailgated me...

    By the way, not my actual car. I have photographs from back in the day when we used film!
    Last edited by CWSmith; 10-03-2017 at 10:44 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    First there was one of these:



    Followed by one of these, that smoked so much that I named it "Toke":



    After those two disasters on wheels, I moved on to this:



    Then:



    After which I went for about ten or twelve years without four-wheel transportation of my own. I regret to admit that, during those years the most attractive feature of my winter girlfriends-of-the-moment was a car. In the other three seasons, I rode...
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    I once rode from Boston to NY on the back of a CB350... it's owner was a little guy who thought he needed the ballast
    "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
    --- Charles Pierce







  5. #5
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    In 1966 I bought Dad's '54 bug. That's the year after the split rear window. Dad had made a couple of flights to get all arranged and then just drove onto his plane in Germany, flew back to Idlewild, and drove it home. We were for some years unique for even having it.



    You really did have to crack a window to close the door. It was that watertight. I once drifted across Conscience Bay having mistakenly thought I could drive over the flooded causeway. A truly great car.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Not a picture of my actual car (cameras hadn't been invented yet), but very similar to this one. 1937 Dodge.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    !959 Studebaker Lark, same color, except mine was a 2-door. Responsible for a reunion in Saigon. My best buddy was in a crowded bar and overheard a loud voice with a Maine (fond of the expression "son of a whore") accent telling about one of our adventures in that car. Turned out the source of the voice was our old First Sargent in the States.

    https://www.bing.com/images/search?v...x=0&ajaxhist=0

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Ron II wins the "cool" sweepstakes...
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    1953 Willys Jeep. A real tank, 50mph tops down hill with the clutch in.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    '40 Plymouth, then '36 Chevy 4 door (knee action shocks), then '38 Ford (Put a Chevy V8 into it).
    \"Of all the things I\'ve lost, I miss my mind the most.\"

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    1934 Riley 9 Monaco, in 1959.
    Followed by two more Rileys.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    Ron II wins the "cool" sweepstakes...
    That car got me suspended from school for a few days. School had a rule that students must park only in the school parking lot (fenced and locked during school hours so we couldn't joy ride at lunch or something.) Also had a rule that it had to pass a school safety inspection to park in the lot. I had run a new tailpipe straight under the axle rather than bending it over the top of the axle. That was against the rules. So I parked on the street and therefore got the boot until I mended my evil ways.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    my first ride



    man, i gave that thing helllll... ramping it, beating it through the woods, racing it (it was pretty dang fast)... it was still "running" when it got traded for some landscaping by my mom and was used for parts.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    I had several first cars. A '51 Plymouth that ran great, but the floor in the back seat had large holes rusted through. Also had a '53 Plymouth, a ''56 Plymouth and a '51 Kaiser. They were my first cars, as all were in the driveway, and I was free to use whatever was handy.
    May be some rough water ahead. We're getting new captain.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    1975 Fiat X1/9. Lot of fun. When it ran.
    Fight Entropy, build a wooden boat!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    1976 Ford LTD Station Wagon // Ford LTD Wagon 460 V-8 Cruise-O-Matic / 459.8 cui engine size 202 hp / very poor economy 8-12 MPG

    Rather fast .....but at over 100 mph the car would start to float up and down on the shocks in a very disturbing way.


    Skip

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    '53 Chevy, mine didn't look this good. It would start when cold, but had to be pushed off once it warmed up. I would pick up friends to help push.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    1950 Hudson Pacemaker.



    Next car was a VW bug.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    I had a 1973 Dodge Dart Swinger, the one with the little Daisy over the eye and swinger. It was lemon yellow and a lot warmer than a motorcycle in the winter
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    First car...
    39 Ford Std. Tudor - Bought from the original owner for $250. He bought it new, picked it up in Detroit, went to the worlds Fair in Chicago for his honeymoon then drove it home to Woburn, Mass. He commuted 2 miles to work until he retired then bought a new Chevy (1962) The Ford was always kept in a little one car detached garage. Only 39,000 miles, no rust anywhere, completely original paint and upholstery, other than needing new kingpins and seat covers. It was perfect, with a V-8 60 and got 27 mpg like clockwork!


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    My first car was this (1960 Triumph TR3) - though a bit better:



    Thing is, I was 13 when I bought it. My first car that I registered was (1961 Volvo P1800 - Jensen):



    Though looks-wise it was closer to the Triumph (including at least 100 lbs. of bondo)...
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    A 64 Chevy Belair almost exactly like this but a lot rustier, bought in 1976 for $150 from a garage called S&M motors. (Really. I don't think they had any idea that the initials might have other meanings. ) It was also a lot warmer than a motorcycle.

    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    In 1967 I bought a 55 Ford Ranch Wagon for $50. Not a single iota of a fond memory.
    “What, Me Worry?". -. A. E. Newman

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Hey, guys, I appreciate your concern about my winter warmth, but please note my selection criteria for girlfriends of the time. I wasn't ever cold, and the motorcycles were happily stored (sometimes in the living room of the girlfriend's apartment) until springtime.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    I was given a "poor man's BMW" almost identical to this (no roof rack, though) on the condition I repaired it (head gasket etc.) myself. Quite educational, at 15.


    What are you doing about it?




  26. #26
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    mmd, is that first one an Epic? My dad had one just like it and the only thing "epic" was the amount of time it spent at the dealership waiting for parts from England until, after months, the dealer just bought the darn thing back. After that, we had a VW Beetle. Much more reliable but the heater was like a hamster blowing through a straw!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Ah, Orca, the Datsun 510... there were loads of aftermarket goodies for those that turned them into pretty high performance cars.

    My first one was a 1971 Chevelle. I usually leave the description at that because mine had the inline 6 cylinder engine. Not much of a performer but it would go a very long ways on $5 of gas! Sorry, no pics that I can find.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Yeah! Datsun 510 in "Corrosion Orange". It was a great car. 40+ MPG full of hitchhikers, keeping up with the "real" BMW's on the Squamish highway, before it was 4 laned. No, I lie, that was the red one, my third car. They were both good. The orange one got rally-driven on back roads around Houston, BC. in the summer of 1982. I took it places the 4x4's didn't want to go. Slithering though mudbogs, flat out in second, with the mud coming through the holes in the floor boards and flying off the snow tires on the back.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Non running 1955 Chevy, engine locked up during the extend time swapping out the transmission in high school auto shop. When trying to break it loose by towing with the FFA flat bed the Chevy backfired and it started on fire. Took a while for the guys in the flat bed to realize what was going on. Exciting times.
    Then a 1959 red and white Ranchero with the back end jacked up, every time I gassed up at our local station the attendant told me I must get great gas mileage since "I was always going down hill", every time.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale H View Post
    Ah, Orca, the Datsun 510... there were loads of aftermarket goodies for those that turned them into pretty high performance cars.
    Quote Originally Posted by robm View Post
    Yeah! Datsun 510 in "Corrosion Orange".
    Yeah, Manitoba winters were not kind to the fenders, and the floor had some dodgy spots, too... but what a blast to drive!

    What are you doing about it?




  31. #31
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    1960 Mercedes 190 D. Wait a week and you were going 60mph.
    The best helping hand you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Quote Originally Posted by Iceboy View Post
    1960 Mercedes 190 D. Wait a week and you were going 60mph.
    Factory spec was 63 seconds to 60MPH. I figure they had a tailwind that day.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    I started with three wheelers, 'cos I could drive them on a motorbike license.
    First a Bond


    Then a Reliant Robin
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    You would be safer on a motorbike. The old guys driving those Robins were great rides when hitch hiking around Britain. They knew all the stories, and all the back roads, came from a tradition of picking up hitch hikers, and were often pretty lonely as well. I can't remember one ever passing me by, or not learning lots about the area while getting a ride.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Remembering my first car

    Dale H, yes, an Envoy Epic, but of indeterminate year. Before I got it a 'country mechanic' worked on it. He had a 1964 Epic that had a rusted-out trunk & rear fenders and rear frame, so he cut it at the door post and welded on the rear end of a 1966 Epic. The engines in both were shot, so he installed an engine from a 1965 one. (Where he got all these bits & bobs I can't imagine, and am probably better off not knowing.) So I had a 1964-65-66 Epic that I happily brutalized for two summers and one winter. It came to an inglorious end when my sister managed to drive it off the road and over some huge rocks, ending up sitting upright in the sand and gravel of a little cove in the Lahave River at low tide. However, even if the vehicle survived the off-road experience over the boulders, by the time the wrecker got there, the tide had risen to the windowsills, so it died that day. My sister reported that her injuries were confined to a broken fingernail.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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