Roving Reporter: First Cars

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on August 14, 2011

We asked this question: "Tell us all about the first car you ever owned." I didn't realize the answers would bring with them memories, but I should have known. It brought memories for me, too.

My first very own car was a sparkling brand new 1964 Prairie Bronze Mustang. I loved that car, the interior was the exact same color as the exterior and since the sun was my best friend at that time, I was about the same color as the car. I was teaching in Louisville in those days and I remember my high school students standing in the parking lot admiring my car. A car like that marked me as a very cool teacher!  I was barely 21, what did I know about teaching?  I just wanted to be cool!

My parents never gave me a car, I had to buy my own. Since it was my money, I didn't let anybody influence me; the choice was all mine. I had a scholarship for college and I lived on campus. I had worked for years, had d2011-08-14/Sharon/70a5ceone without a car and saved my money. I graduated college in 1964, the year the Mustang was born. I had to have that car!

That gorgeous bronze Mustang; not only was it a guy magnet, but it also was a cop magnet. I remember getting stopped a few times on Watterson Expressway, but since I only remember getting one speeding ticket, I think mostly they just wanted to get a good look at my car. That car took me lots of places and it piled on the miles. It was eventually replaced by one more Mustang, this one was Candy Apple Red with a black vinyl top and red leather interior. Oh boy! That car was hot!  My students loved it too. And so did the cops!

My favorite car of all time belonged to my high school sweetheart. I'm going to tell you all about it, that 1958 cream-colored Chevy Impala complete with continental kit on the back. But before I do, let's read about some of your first cars . . . and the memories that go with them.



The first car I ever owned was a '63 Chevy Super Sport, 327 engine. Navy blue, bucket seats, automatic shift on the floor. I took it out for a 1/4 mile sprint once and it did well; can't remember the stats. That machine had moves, power. It was my escape, my freedom, my ride to school, but no room to "make-out" unless you moved to the backseat. What a total bummer. I loved it anyway. It was a hot car and everyone knew it. It carried me through snow, sleet, rain, tule fog, sand and many boyfriends. Up and down the San Francisco Peninsula Menlo Park to San Francisco, Sausalito, Jimi Hendrix, Tibouron, The Who, San Rafael, Righteous Brothers, Stinson Beach, Bob Dylan, Mendocino, Peter Paul and Mary, Fort Bragg, Doobie Bros, Berkeley, Poco, Tahoe, skiing, water skiing, Carmel, the coast, the Redwoods and so on. Those few years were my own adventure period. I just took off. My Chariot Was A Gem. It didn't have a CD player, Satellite Navigation, movies but it moved. It was never replaced but I did drive a '65 Ford Mustang after the Chariot. :)



The first car I owned, paying it with the settlement of my divorce, was a 1991 Dodge Caravan. In that car I traveled the length of California, into Utah, the Dakotas and Idaho before making my first trip to Kentucky.

When I wasn't traveling, I was working until I retired from nursing. I traveled cross country, pulling a trailer for the last time when I moved to Kentucky. I arrived here Feb. 6th, 1999 and have not regretted the move. That is not to say I don't miss parts of California, but I know I would never return there to live. I am now a Kentucky Girl.

After I settled here, I drove the back roads delivering the local newspaper. When my van began to die I had a rebuilt transmission put in it, replaced other parts that were wearing out and then one day it died. I had put over 300,000 miles on him while he and I traveled where ever the road took us. (That was before the transmission was rebuilt.) Its last trip was being towed to the crusher to be turned into something recycled.



My first vehicle was a Chevy Citation hatchback bought right after I got out of college. This was overall a wonderful car purchased for about $3000, used of course. It had front end drive, which gave it better traction than many other vehicles. At the time, I lived in upstate New York where there was a fair amount of snow, and while other people's newer and more expensive vehicles would bog down, I would drive this thing through snowplow piles and snow up to a foot deep. It was always fun to have my cheap ugly car plow through where most others got stuck. I think I even jump-started other vehicles every once in a while.
Unfortunately, it did have some flaws that finally made it difficult to justify the expense of repairs. First, the radiator had never been flushed or even checked. This was fine during the winter as the temperature was cold enough to also keep the engine cool. But as the weather turned warmer, one day it finally overheated while on a trip. This was fixed, as I needed transportation to get home. The next problem that finally did it in was missing on one of its 6 cylinders. I traded it in for a small Toyota pick-up soon after this problem popped up. It lasted for several years and certainly gave me my money's worth, though.



Having grown up driving my parents '68 wagon, the 1985 Dodge Daytona really caught my eye. I wasn't too wild about the idea that it was a 4-cylinder but this had something new; EFI ~ electronic fuel injection. That was just what my heavy foot needed.

With its wide and low to the ground stance, the rack and pinion steering could corner on a dime. I had a lot of fun driving the wheels off that thing until its death 11 years later.



My first car was wonderful! It was a 1957 Volvo - white. It cost $150 and I'd begged my Dad for the money to buy it! LOL
Looked just like this...
My step dad was my mechanic and he did things a little the car needed freeze plugs, he replaced one with a champagne cork and another with a sawed - off broom handle and the exhaust pipe was replaced with a piece of flex pipe (like for a clothes dryer), held up with a coat hanger. Then my boyfriend did some work on it and the hinge for the hood broke, so he cut slots in the fenders and held the hood on with a seat belt. Boy, did I love that car! Wish I could get another just like it.



Technically speaking, I don't know if I actually owned the car, but my father claimed he bought it for me. You see, my father never outgrew his teenage "hot rodder" stage once he became an adult.

Here is just one example. When I was growing up, the street that ran past our house was gravel. My father worked at Amana Refrigeration, located only four or so blocks from our house. Because he loved to drive, he never once in his life walked that short distance. He also liked challenges. So every so often on his way home from work, he would come tearing down the street at what would be considered breakneck speed on a gravel road, cram his steering wheel sharply to the right a short distance from home, sending the car into a sideways skid. The challenge was to come to a halt in front of our driveway with the car aligned with it so that he could just simply drive forward up the driveway.

Neighbors took bets as to whether he would make it. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. On his unsuccessful attempts, the car would end up in a shallow grassy ditch with no harm done other than some sideways tire marks in the grass.

So it didn't surprise me at all when he showed up one evening in 1958 with a pink 1957 souped up Oldsmobile. It had the largest engine Oldsmobile made at that time in the smallest body Oldsmobile had built to date. It had glass-pack mufflers (anybody remember those?) that produced sort of a roaring purr. "I bought this for you, Larry." Rather than immediate elation, my first thought was "Yeah, right!"

Then the elation hit. OMG, I'll be the most popular kid in high school! My friends immediately dubbed my new car "the pink sex wagon." It could do zero to sixty faster than any car any other high schooler was driving. I could squeal the tires at 60 MPH if I put the pedal to the metal. A chick magnet? Definitely! And my story will stop here, lest I embarrass myself and your readers.



My first car. It was 1964 and the car was a burgundy '64 Corvair. It was given to me by my parents (who were not wealthy people Lovey dubby ) so that I could attend a two year college nearby and still live at home. We were living in a village outside of Buffalo, where the school was. There were several people who rode with me and they all pitched in and paid for gas, so really, everything about the car was free. (I was a spoiled young lady!) The thing is, that car gave me access to not only an education, but to a brand new world!

Also attending that school was a gorgeous, dark-haired, muscular specimen of a human being who took a shine to me and courted me and eventually married me! And I knew it was fate, because what was he driving? The identical car as mine. We referred to them as Him and Her.

After leaving college, I got a job as a lab tech in a hospital in a town maybe an hour drive away. The Corvair and I made the trip home every weekend, and back to work on Monday morning. It was a faithful friend who never gave me any trouble at all. We had a beautiful relationship.

Bill was in the Army stationed in El Paso when we got married, and we needed a bigger car to take all our wedding gifts and clothes and things across the country, so I had to turn in my little Corvair for a 1967 Impala. It was so sad saying goodbye to it. It took a lot of memories with it and I could tell it was sad too. I had been it's first owner and we'd had a lot of good times together. It took my friends and me to beer blasts, drive-ins, beaches, parties....... Oh! And to classes too, of course!

Thanks for bringing back some fond memories, Sharon.


Thank you all for sharing your first cars and your memories with us. Aren't memories fun? 

Now as I promised, I'll tell you the story of the first car that ever really caught my eye and still to this day makes my heart flip.

It was late summer of 1959 and I was in American History class with a young man who sat behind me.  He was absolutely the most handsome young man I'd ever seen as I watched him beneath lowered lashes make his way past my desk to his seat. I thought he might surely hear the thumping of my heart, it was so loud.

He was driving an old Buick at that time and I wasn't very impressed with the car obviously since I don't even remember its color, but I was quite taken with him. I'd watch for his car to drive up my narrow dirt road as he came to pick me up for a movie. One day, it wasn't the Buick that drove up that road, it was a gorgeous cream colored 1958 Chevy Impala. It looked to be a mile long with that continental kit on the back, but oh boy, it was one hunk of a car, driven by my handsome hunk of a man.

It was automatic, which suited me just fine, since he could drive it easily with only one arm; his other arm was, of course, around me. He had a stereo installed soon after he got it and we must have echoed all over the mountains as we drove that Impala listening to Elvis sing "Now and Then There's a Fool Such as I"; the Drifters' "There Goes My Baby"; and Brenda Lee's "Sweet Nothings".  

It was our hideaway, that car, it cocooned us, kept the world at bay and we went everywhere in it. He was a musician, my guy, played a trumpet with a sound that my heart can still hear. Except for the trumpet that had a prominent place in the back seat, the Impala belonged only to us. I don't think anybody else ever rode in that car.

We rode all over the mountains of southeast Kentucky through '59 and on into 1960 in the cream colored Impala. It was time for our senior prom and my dress was selected to perfectly match the Impala. My guy gave me red roses and we danced the night away with the rest of the crowd, but when it was over, we were back in our car.  The songs that year were those that linger even now, and we listened to all of them: The Drifters and "Save the Last Dance for Me"; Elvis and "Are You Lonesome Tonight"; and Sam Cooke's " It's a Wonderful World".  I think our all time favorite was Al Hibbler's "Unchained Melody", or maybe it might be The Platters singing "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". We must have listened to those songs thousands of times and sometimes he sang them to me.

The cream colored Impala with the continental kit on the back, the amazing stereo on the dash, and my incredibly handsome best friend boyfriend, carried us through 1960 and into '61. We parted then, my guy and I, college and life separated us.  But we carried with us beautiful memories, memories that have lasted a lifetime, memories that were made in that wonderful 1958 cream colored Chevy Impala. It still visits my dreams sometimes.

If you'd like to hear music from those years, you might enjoy this.

Now we'd like to hear about your first or most favorite car and the memories that go with it. Please tell us in the comment threads that follow this article.

Thanks for joining us, come back again next week for another edition of Spotlight.

(If you'd like to see a continental kit on the back of a 1958 Chevy Impala, please go here and scroll down. You can't miss it!)

Related articles:
cars, interviews, vintage cars

About Sharon Brown
I am a retired Art and Humanities teacher living in western Kentucky. I love writing and art with equal measure, but I also have a passion for nature and plants.

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