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11-05-2015, 04:30 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Your first car, your first vehicle...memories

My first car was a 1961 Volkswagen Type 1 Deluxe, commonly known as a VW Beetle. I had the 1200cc engine, with synchromesh on first gear, which I believe was one of the myriad of changes they made to the 1961 model. No gas gauge though, that came later in the '61 production. I bought this car in the later '60's.

It was a great first car for an 18 year old. Got great gas MPG. Took a torrent of abuse from it's young owner, without as much as a whimper....the car, not me.
I live on the Canadian prairies, where we get a fair amount of snow, lots of cold weather, long, long winters and ice and snow covered roads that last for 5 + months.

I found early on, that on ice / snow it wouldn't turn corners very well, because of lack of weight over the front axle. I attempted to quickly remedy that issue, by experimenting with the placement of a couple of sewed denim (old jeans) sand bags. I read Road & Track magazine as a kid (Henry N. Manney fan) and according to the engineer publisher, John Bond...good weight distribution was essential for a good handling car.

To that end... I worked at achieving better handling, braking and steering through trying to change the percentage of weight...of balance... between front and back, with the limited teenage resources I had at my disposal.

I used to go to shopping centers in the winter as the lots were empty on Sunday . No Sunday shopping back then. For about 15-20 minutes at a lot, I would practice throwing the VW into lurid slides and then attempt to learn how to get out of them. No other cars there, nothing to hit. I would experiment with placement of the sandbags. Eventually I was able to develop a weight distribution that allowed me to easily steer out of a slide...or go into a slide at will. Steering and braking of the VW also improved significantly.

Steering out of a skid, is a skill I still have, thanks to that early experimentation with my VW. I'm no Mario Andretti, but every so often, with our snow/ice covered roads, I have been able to steer and slide out of trouble...rather than just hammering on the brakes and hoping for the best. BTW, I always drive to the conditions and drive defensively. Common sense needs to be the byword in driving...which is my key developed after 50 years of driving on snow and ice covered roads.

I mentioned that I would work away on slides and weight distribution for 15-20 minutes, on a particular empty parking lot. After this time had elapsed, I would then leave and find another lot in another part of the city. As this was before the advent of cell phones, I figured I had this much time, before police would come down to check out what the heck was I doing.

The '61 VW I had, was a very pleasant, reliable, durable, economical car for a first car. Not warm though, no gas heater.

The VW was my first car. My first vehicle was a Czechoslovakian made, '65 Jawa 50cc motor scooter. Sort of like a Honda Cub 50cc. It was a good little bike and the freedom of the open road and independence it gave me, was wonderful. But I wanted more power. So that led to a quick succession of motorcycles. Two 125cc CZ motorcycles, then a '65 Yamaha 250cc twin cylinder, twin carb, twin exhaust Catalina SS, YDS3. It had 28.6 hp at a heady 8600 rpm, 5 speeds forward. I was able to get it up to an indicated 93 mph.

Don't know how accurate that was, but I only did it once and generally traveled on the highway at a more sane 60-65 mph.

Although I enjoyed motorcycles, I liked having a car more if I only had enough budget for one vehicle. Hence the '61, Baltic Blue VW Beetle. All these vehicles of course, had manual transmissions. I've always enjoyed shifting.

So what was your first vehicle and what were your memories.


Last edited by lesmore49; 11-05-2015 at 04:36 PM.
11-05-2015, 04:42 PM   #2
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1970 MGB. Bought in the 80s for $500. Bought 1971 MGB parked and dismantled 1970.

I drove aka walked all through HS and later on. I became handy but these things were not made well. Even new.

Happiest day of my life was coming back from ft benning and buying a new CRX. I drive that 15 years as a daily driver and only sold it this year.
11-05-2015, 05:14 PM   #3
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'64 Chevelle El Camino. Ten years old when I bought it in high school for $800 from an old lady whose husband was no longer around.

I worked after school at a Shell station for $2 an hour, so it was a big purchase.

Small block (283), 4-speed manual with 4.11 rear end. Freeway speeds were high-revved, but from signal-to-signal, it was quick.

The independence was certainly life-changing.
11-05-2015, 08:58 PM   #4
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First car that I drove was a 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 RanchWagon. My parents bought it brand new after they moved back to the USA from Germany in 1963. Great old station wagon. I wish I still had it today. 200 CID, no computers or smog control. Easy to work on.


First car that I bought was a 1982 Ford Mustang GLX. Basically a Mustang LX with the V8 302 and a 4 speed in it plus other GT upgrades like power windows and door locks, T-top (which was great), and a better stereo.

11-05-2015, 09:29 PM   #5
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First car was a Ford, 1951 Zephyr Six

The pic is not mine - mine was pale blue, without visor and whitewall tyres.


I paid 40 pounds (Australian) for it in about 1965 and replaced it about a year later!
Not much to remember!
11-06-2015, 03:44 AM   #6
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I'm not sure it qualifies as a car. It was a 1960 Renault, and by definition, it had four tires and something they referred to as an engine. When stopping at gas stations, I had to check the gas and fill the oil. It leaked it, burned it, and I suspect even sold it on the black market, as it went through the stuff so fast. Top speed was 55, and it took all day to get there, especially if I had friends in the car. And if you pulled into a pot hole at a traffic light, with a carload of friends, one would have to get out and aid the engine in getting out of the pot hole or all you did was stall the engine. The unibody had rusted so bad that the passenger seat would get wet on rain soaked roads. Oh, and if you pulled on the steering wheel, it came off.

My father bought it for me for $50 and a couple months later sold it back to the guy he bought it from for $30. The guy never made it home, as the car died en route.

My second car was a 1963 Chevy II with 153 cu 4 cylinder engine and 3 on the tree. Still a putz car, but a HUGE step forward for me.

From there, I went to a 64 Chevy Impala SS convertible with the legendary 409 engine, and life was never the same afterwards.
11-06-2015, 08:02 AM   #7
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Wow, all you old timers. My first was a 1973 Road Runner. I remember the payments were well under $100 a month. I still remember the look on my dad's face when I drilled a half inch hole in the roof to put the saw blade through to cut out the hole for the sunroof I put in it. Spent a ton of money on it and wish now I had never sold it.
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11-06-2015, 10:08 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom S. Quote
I'm not sure it qualifies as a car. It was a 1960 Renault, and by definition, it had four tires and something they referred to as an engine. When stopping at gas stations, I had to check the gas and fill the oil. It leaked it, burned it, and I suspect even sold it on the black market, as it went through the stuff so fast. Top speed was 55, and it took all day to get there, especially if I had friends in the car. And if you pulled into a pot hole at a traffic light, with a carload of friends, one would have to get out and aid the engine in getting out of the pot hole or all you did was stall the engine. The unibody had rusted so bad that the passenger seat would get wet on rain soaked roads. Oh, and if you pulled on the steering wheel, it came off.

My father bought it for me for $50 and a couple months later sold it back to the guy he bought it from for $30. The guy never made it home, as the car died en route.

My second car was a 1963 Chevy II with 153 cu 4 cylinder engine and 3 on the tree. Still a putz car, but a HUGE step forward for me.

From there, I went to a 64 Chevy Impala SS convertible with the legendary 409 engine, and life was never the same afterwards.
Tom, that '64 Impala SS with the 4-0-9 interests me. Was it the 340 hp...or one of the big boppers...the 400 or 425 hp job ? Transmission...4 speed ? You must of had some interesting runs in that 409, you wouldn't mind talking about. I realize you're a moderator, but back in the old days I bet you were involved in spirited youthful hi jinks, were you not ?

Les

11-06-2015, 10:49 AM - 1 Like   #9
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1972 Honda Coupe. 600cc 2cyl air cooled, front wheel drive, 10" rims. It redlined at 63 mph.
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11-06-2015, 10:51 AM   #10
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A 1958 Borgward Goliath. Not sure why they named it that as it was a small car. It was my first front wheel drive car powered by a water cooled flat 4 long before Subaru was born. It taught me a lot about driving in the winter. I could pass almost anything on a snow covered mountain road. I probably have a pic of it buried in a box somewhere. This is an image from wikipedia.
11-06-2015, 11:00 AM   #11
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I never owned a car by myself. The first car I drove was my mother's '55 Mercury Sun Valley. It was absolutely a beauty!

1955 Mercury Montclair Sun Valley Hardtop - Aucton Results: $27,500

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11-06-2015, 02:14 PM   #12
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My first car was a 1967 HR Holden wagon, 161 Hi Comp inline 6, 3 on the tree, used to bellow smoke form the breather pipe, but it was a fun car, good for fishing, tons of room and front bench seat so I could fit 6 mates in the thing and it was only 700 bucks. Soon after it was fried I got a MKll GT Cortina.
11-06-2015, 02:49 PM   #13
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A 1978 Chevy Nova two-door, 305 V8, automatic. I bought it used in 1984 with 78,000 miles on it after a long search - most cars were undesirable somehow in the late 70s/early 80s. The Nova was on its way out, so the car had nothing new or exciting. It was a product of its era. Chevy tried to make highway fuel economy look great by using a very high axle ratio, so it would shift from first to second at 50mph, into 3rd at 80. It had a 21 gallon tank because car makers used to advertise "range" - highway MPG times fuel capacity. The speedometer only read up to 80; Congress was just discussing rules about limiting speedos to 85mph because the National Maximum Speed Limit was 55mph. The paint was terrible because the EPA or OSHA had cracked down on automotive paint contents and practices. Big bumpers were because of the 5 mph bumper rule.

Despite its era and basic nature, it was a great car for me. I got 22mpg on the highway. It always started except once when the K-mart battery exploded, but that was in a garage - just ten minutes and a new battery, good to go. Parts were dirt cheap and available anywhere. I replaced the water pump all by myself in an apartment parking lot with basic tools. I did brakes, alternator, rust repair, plus stereo, wheels and tires. I really wanted new seats - I could go 400 miles on a highway trip but the seats would kill me.

The transmission started to have trouble and I got it fixed once, but when it looked like it was going again, I sold for $250 to someone my brother knew. The car lived on for several more years after that. I sometimes dream I still have it.
11-06-2015, 02:56 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by wtlwdwgn Quote
A 1958 Borgward Goliath. Not sure why they named it that as it was a small car. It was my first front wheel drive car powered by a water cooled flat 4 long before Subaru was born. It taught me a lot about driving in the winter. I could pass almost anything on a snow covered mountain road. I probably have a pic of it buried in a box somewhere. This is an image from wikipedia.

I remember those. In my home town, back in the 1960's a small European motorcycle/car dealership sold Borgwards along with DKW cars and Jawa and CZ motorcycles, along with Velorex sidecars. I saw only one Borgward, but it wasn't a Goliath, it was an Isabella. Believe the Borgward was a West German car. Strange names, but then they might of thought Wildcat, Polara and Galaxie were strange.

https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=...uavwFJon8lZL4Q
11-06-2015, 02:57 PM   #15
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Fifty years after passing my driving test I still haven't owned a car, a couple of motorbikes and a few bicycles but never a car
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