Article: Roving Reporter: First Cars: 1979 Chevy Malibu

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Image Roving Reporter: First Cars
By Sharon Brown 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.

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Aug 14, 2011 10:22 PM CST
Name: Marylyn
Houston, TX
After high school (and one year away at college which resulted in my losing my scholarship - a story for another time... only legal drugs were involved LOL), my sister and I got an apartment together in Columbus, Ohio. My sister had her driver's license and a car. I didn't have either. We didn't have a lot of money. She was going to college as well as working full time. I could get rides to work, and eventually I found a job close by so I could walk, so I didn't need a car; and since we could barely afford the insurance payments for just her, it didn't make sense to add me to it, too.

In 1993, the Woolworth's store I worked at was going to close, and my sister was almost done with her degree in Occupational Therapy from Ohio State and had to do some in-service work in Wisconsin - and suddenly, at the age of 25, I really needed a car! And a driver's license! Quickly! One of my co-workers had a beat up old car that he had bought from a guy at his old job. He had been planning on fixing it up, but he needed to get rid of it. It was a 1979 Chevy Malibu two-toned sedan, covered in rust. His friend had bought it for his teenager to drive - and drive it he did! He also souped it up, so it had a bigger engine that it originally came with, and no muffler to speak of.

He hauled it to my house and my dad came over and worked on it. He replaced the starter, the water pump, battery, and alternator - and probably a lot of other things I don't remember, and gave it a tune up and an oil change. I signed up for driving lessons and got my license.

The first time I had to fill it up with gas, I nearly caused a man an injury. I pulled up to the gas pump and got out... and the door for the tank was not on the left. Ok, no problem... must be on the other side. I walked around the car to see where it was, so I knew how far to pull up - and it wasn't there either. Hmmm... I walked back around to the left, thinking I must have missed it... Nope. And then back around to the right.... Nope. Confused The car DID take gas, didn't it??? By this time the guy at the next pump had finally stopped laughing enough to suggest I look behind the license plate at the back of the car. What?!? Really?? Sure enough.. When I pulled at the plate, it flipped down and there was the cap. Who knew? I really thought that guy had to have busted at least 3 ribs, he was laughing so hard. Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

That car was as ugly as all get out, but it was a blast to drive! The big engine gave it a great pick up speed on the highway. The teenager had put a foot through the dashboard - in just the right spot to hang a cup holder. I used to put a jar of salsa in the cup holder and eat chips and dip on my way home from my second shift job. (I was not driving on the freeway while eating those, you'll be glad to know. Whistling ) The key was broken off in the ignition, so I didn't need a key to start the car - I just turned the ignition ring. The only time I needed a key was to open the trunk. Or to open the door, I suppose, if I actually locked the car, but I never did... it didn't have a radio. The glove compartment was wired shut. There was nothing to take inside it, and who would steal it??

Eventually (after replacing the muffler, brakes, hoses, tires, the entire electrical system, etc., over the course of about 18 months), the transmission died, and we finally decided that it wasn't worth it to fix anymore, and I gave it to a friend of my dad's for scrap. I've had several other cars since, but none of them have been as much fun as that first one was. Hilarious!
Aug 14, 2011 10:30 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Marylyn, what a truly great story!!!

Love it. And I'll bet you made a ton of memories in that ugly old rusty car.
How fun!

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