15 August 2019

Don's Buick

My first car was a 61 Buick LeSabre "Bubbletop" , purchased off the used car lot at Berndt Buick on 27th and National in Milwaukee. It was a beautiful cream color with a brown and cream interior. I drove it to school my senior year at Washington High and cruised Milwaukee when I could. And boy, that 364 "Nailhead" could really cruise! It really surprised some people how quick that big ol boat of a Buick could be! Lots of fun and stories of cruising in my Buick for the next two and a half years, but I think my favorite must be one night in the summer after I graduated.
One Friday night on WRIT, King Richard the DJ decided to play the instrumental record "Raunchy" for something like 90 minutes straight. He told people to meet on Wisconsin Avenue. While the record was on continuous play, he hopped in his bright orange Plymouth and led a parade estimated at 300 cars up and down the street! Lots of people got ticketed on the side streets speeding to get to the front of the line, but I just stayed on Wisconsin and reveled in the moment, cruising my home town with 300 other people all listening to the same radio station and laughing.

25 May 2018

Tony's Triumph

My First Car Story – a 1972 Triumph Dolomite 1850HL
Probably one of the less exciting cars that will feature on this site…
When I passed my test back in 1976 and subsequently went to University in Birmingham, I couldn’t afford a car, but was able to occasionally use my father’s – during my years at Uni these were a gold VW K70 and then a metallic brown Citroen GS Pallas. He rarely went for the ordinary.
When I secured a job on completing my degree, the first thing I wanted was a car. I’d seen the one – at the local Fire Station was parked a gorgeous metallic blue Opel Manta A, but when I spoke to the firefighter owner, he wasn’t selling, and I couldn’t find another locally. The Manta A is an itch I still haven’t scratched.
Time was getting short, and I was due to start work within a few days – and as it was going to be with British Leyland, I thought I had better get an appropriate car. I liked the look of the Triumph Dolomite range (geddit? I kill myself sometimes), and saw an 1850HL being advertised for £675 (this was now 1979), so I went to take a look. I didn’t really know much about the mechanics of a car, or indeed what to look out for other than the very obvious. However, it was being sold by two teachers, so I assumed that I would be able to trust them. How wrong that assumption turned out to be.
It’d had a fresh coat of mustard-yellow paint, and its black velour interior looked very smart. After a test drive that revealed only that the wheels needed balancing and that the twin-carb set up needed tuning, I got them down to £625, and was pretty pleased with myself, but the feeling didn’t last.
It turned out that the wheels didn’t need balancing at all – they needed new tyres all round because the ones fitted were different sizes. I hadn’t even thought to check - after all, who fits different-sized tyres? I couldn’t afford new tyres so bought 5 remoulds - £50.
Setting up the carburettors cost me £48.
Then I discovered the fuel tank was leaking – a replacement was another £50.
A mechanically-adept friend of my father’s took a look at the car for me – turns out that the respray (in a mustard-yellow) that the teachers had so proudly informed me of disguised masses of filler – the car was a rust-bucket. If only he’d been able to look at the car before I bought it…as it was, I’d bought a dog.
I couldn’t afford to change it and was hoping it would at least last until I qualified for a company car at work, so I drove it without too many further issues for about a year, towards the end of which the steering column had developed increasing amounts of fore-and-aft movement. “My” mechanic took a look under the car – the chassis was slowly splitting in two roughly in line with where the front door pillar was. The car was turning into a death trap, and was only fit for the scrapyard, which was where it went – I got £30 for it. It was only 8 years old. Damn those teachers, and my naivety. I was so sick of the car by then that I was happy to see it go – I don’t even have any photos of it, though it looked like this:-
A yellow car parked in a parking lot

Description generated with very high confidence

Fortunately, the promotion and company car that I had been working towards came through very shortly afterwards – though working for British Leyland, the car was an Austin Allegro 1500HL, now considered to be one of the worst cars ever made…but it was at least new, and I didn’t have to worry about any costs. My street cred, on the other hand (such as it was)…well, that disappeared. The Allegro was the first of literally dozens of BL cars that I endured in my next 4 years there. I even managed to sell some.
Whenever I see a Dolomite at a car show nowadays, it brings back bad memories of my first car, but if someone offered me a mint Dolomite Sprint, especially in blue, I’d still be sorely tempted.

08 January 2017

Jess's Mustang

Fantastic first car story from Jess in Texas. And he still has the car...how cool is that?  Thanx for sharing it with the readers here and on your Hemmings page.
"In late 1973, freshly equipped with a new Texas driver’s license and some money saved for a car, I embarked on a quest to find my first ride. I was keen on Trans Ams or Camaros and, coming from a GM family, didn’t really have an interest in Mustangs, at all. Especially 71-73s.

22 June 2016

Andrew's SAAB

My first car was a 2003 SAAB 9.5 Arc. Knowing SAABs reputation for exceptional passive safety, and the fact that my dad is of Swedish heritage pretty well predetermined the choice of a SAAB for me in his mind.
I have to admit that I wasn't real excited about the car when I first saw it; not very "cool looking" and four doors too. But, beggars can't be choosers, so I gladly received it as a 17th birthday present.
Once I got to know the car though, I really liked it. It was incredibly smooth, handled nicely in daily use and was actually surprisingly fast. Plus, there was a certain cachet to it as you didn't see one every day and the school parking lot wasn't filled with them. I actually became a bit of a "SAAB Snaab"...

07 April 2016

Thomas' Chevelle - Speeding through my senior year of high school in a 1967 Chevelle SS396

"While Christopher Hoffman still has his first car, which today is rather well documented, my first car is long gone and rather poorly documented. Finding the only surviving photo of my first car the other day, however, brought back a flood of great memories. In late summer 1985, after months of searching through my local classifieds, I found and bought a 1967 Chevelle SS 396 for $3,400 – its Marina Blue repaint was just weeks old at the time.
It had the 325hp engine and was optioned with a four-speed trans, a 12-bolt Posi, power steering, console, gauges and the cool tach with the left turn signal in its face. Its interior was light blue and though second-gen Camaro front seats with black fuzzy seat covers were in it, the original buckets with ripped covers were included with the sale.

14 September 2015

Adventures On Three [ and occasionally two ] wheels - Ross' Berkeley T60

As editor of the Classic Corvette Club UKs magazine - www.corvetteclub.org.uk - Ross is doing a series on his personal transportation evolution. He has kindly agreed to share the story of his first car here.
Like many of us, he started his life of motorised transportation and fascination with powered wheel things on motorbikes. The story of the AJS is pretty darn humourous, but you'll have to look that one up yourself. We'll pick up here where the first car story begins...

"After  the Steroidal Dumper Truck AJS Combo, my urge to progress on to cars began to beckon to me and and eventually swapped the pre-cafe racer AJS 500 for a rather tatty looking white 1960 Berkeley T60 three wheeler complete with a hand painted red Ladybird on the bonnet. Was this an early example of custom airbrushed paintwork(probably not!)? Squint rather hard and you could almost imagine the Berkeley from the frontal view as being a bit like a miniature E Type Jaguar with its concealed headlamps and open grille (OK, perhaps not).
Library photo of a Berkeley - mine was white and not quite this tidy...

17 April 2015

Jay's Anglia

Received an email from my buddy Jay at Mainly Muscle recounting the story of his first car. FINALLY. But in his defence, Jay is a busy man; he oversees 3 very successful businesses, as well as a lovely wife, 2 beautiful daughters, a Big Friendly Dog, a couple of boats, two or three dozen collectible and muscle cars, and of course his Mainly Muscle shop. I don’t know where he finds time to sleep ; but lets pick up where he starts talking about his first Ford, given to him before he could even drive on public roads…

“I’ve heard many comments over the years, and more every day, from guys who say something to the effect of “the poor mileage, sloppy handling, squishy brakes, etc, caused me to unload my Musclecar in the 70s, and I’ve never looked back.”
A 1960 Anglia is the car that MADE me ‘Mainly Muscle’. My Dad bought one new for my mother who was pregnant with me at the time. Dad somehow thought it was sporty, with the British roots and burgundy with grey roof two tone paint. It was Mom’s kid/grocery hauler for 11 years, whilst Dad drove nice, company supplied Pontiacs, Impalas, and Oldsmobiles. When she dropped me off at school, I would make her park a block away. Being seen in that car made my boy parts shrink like an ice bath…
The car ended up with a hole in the block, but would actually still run about 40 mph if you kept enough oil in her. Parents gave it to me to rip around the acreage in when I was 12, which was a lot of fun, but I still thought it was the un-sexiest car ever.
About 10 years later, a local guy did one up to a very high quality with a 289, green with yellow stripes, big rubber, the whole 9 yards. The car made absolutely no sense to me at all…

The Anglia experience had life changing consequences :
My parents divorced
I have been a fan of heavy metal muscle cars since, and will be forever
My wife always drives a nicer vehicle than I
My mom Married the next time for money
and Dad drives Caddies

Still, it was technically my first car ; wonder about doing one up in BRG, yellow Lotus stripe, lowered with flares and a thumpin 289…  Nahhhhhhhh !  Still the un-sexiest car ever!”

 [ this isnt actually my car, but a photo I found that looks just like it. Though it didnt look nearly this good by the time I got it! ]