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Would You Buy Your First Car Back?

First Car Matt Ts Final
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First cars are like first loves. Many are good. A few are bad. Most just happen, and their meaning fades over time. Some connect with your soul and never leave. Often, they’re how we measure our subsequent experiences. Let’s do a little deep exploration into our own psyches and decide if we’d buy our first cars back.

I wish my first car was the Studebaker Avanti I’m posing next to above, but I can’t currently locate a photo of the creamy beige diesel 1978 Mercedes 300D sedan I actually owned.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The MB was owned by a woman who would swim with my German grandmother at the local pool. There was a small amount of rust under the car but, aesthetically, it was in pretty decent shape and had that delightful orange MB Tex interior. It looked a little something like this one from Mercedes Motoring:

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Photo: Mercedes Motoring

I loved automobiles at 16 so it wasn’t lost on me that this was actually quite the cool first car. It was slow, of course, but I question the logic of giving a 16-year-old a fast car anyway. I delighted in cruising around in it through my boring suburban town and I wish I’d learned to work on it before we ended up selling it to a Lufthansa mechanic who had three W123s.

Would I have it back? Of course! Not only are these cars actually worth money, it’s only aged better in the years since I graduated from high school. What about you? Would you have your first car back? Why? Why not?

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[Editor’s Note: I just want to say my first car was a 1968 VW Beetle the color of Wrigley’s gum, with those JC Whitney Navajo-pattern seat covers. I bought it with my own money saved from my job selling Apple IIs at the Byte Shop when I was 15, before I could drive. No one in my family could drive stick, so I got the guy my parents were accused of trying to murder later to drive to our house. That’s true, by the way. I learned how to drive stick on my way to work, and it was harrowing. A few months later some dummy didn’t yield for a turn at a light and crashed into me, and I pulled the engine and used it in the ’71 Super Beetle I got next. I’d buy it back, no question! – JT]

A few ground rules to this question:

  • We’ll assume the car is basically in running shape and in a condition that is indicative of how you owned it (i.e., if it was wrecked you can still buy the non-wrecked version of your car).
  • If you still own your first car or have purchased it back please tell us why.
  • “first” means the first car that was your car and not the family car.

Fire away.

 

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Wolrah
Wolrah
6 months ago

I have video of my first car landing a jump so hard the 4.6 busted entirely off the mounts, so unfortunately it’s never coming back.

I’d happily have another Crown Vic without a moment’s hesitation.

Myk El
Myk El
7 months ago

Would I want my first car back? Not the specific one I had. It was too far gone to ever be what I wanted it to be. Even if it was found in the exact condition I sold it in (doubtful) it’d be a stupid waste of money getting it right. But would I want a 1961 Oldsmobile 98 4-door hardtop with the glorious wrap-around rear window in excellent condition? Hell yes.

Erik Waiss
Erik Waiss
7 months ago

The first car I bought with my money was a 1977 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, sky blue in and out with all blue-cow leather interior and every bell and whistle that GM could slap on a chassis in that year. It was glorious, and it was too much luxury for a high school senior.

I loved that car, it taught me through necessity the need to do my own wrenching. My father was (is?) a large diesel mechanic and always worked on the family cars. Except the next year I was at college and over an hour’s drive away. Unless I wanted to wait for him to have a day off, or risk driving home with an issue, I had to do it myself. The pride in my Dad’s eyes when I told him I put on a new starter on my own is something I’ll always remember. I was holding my own flashlight, so to speak.

So, yeah, if I could have that car again in the condition it was in at the time. . . I’d buy the fuck out of that car. And then me and the wife would sail that land yacht down the road (at 14 mpg…)

JDE
JDE
7 months ago

yep, but the big years of Mustangs are suddenly popular and expensive. but I would absolutely take a Fast Back Mach 1 with a 351 C from 1971.

Scott Wangler
Scott Wangler
7 months ago

I still own my first car, 1965 Mustang. I held on to it because I kept hearing old timers tell me how they wish they still had their first car.

David Puckett
David Puckett
7 months ago

1975 Chevy Monza Coupe with the 4.3L V8. Blue with White Vinyl Top and White Vinyl Interior….. HELL NO! tI was still an under powered shit box. The 2-brl carb choke would stick on cold mornings, the top and interior were impossible to keep clean and to change the rear-most spark plugs, you had to loosen the motor mounts and jack up the motor a bit to be able to get the plugs out. I was the greatest day of my life (to that point) when I was able to trade it in on a brand new 1984 Mazda 626 coupe 6 months after graduating college.

Josh Jones
Josh Jones
7 months ago

2001 Focus SE Wagon, white over grey. Absolutely. That little shitbox could do >140 and haul everything I owned while doing so.

It had ~180k miles on it when I got it if I recall correctly, and I put another ~50k on it delivering pizza. I had to replace the entire exhaust system on it 3 times over those 50k miles due to the massive amount of salt it ate delivering in winter, and because of how low it sat and how bad our roads were, but I still loved it…. It only left me stranded like a dozen times! (not bad for a low FWD delivering pizza in PA, tbh… My subaru was only slightly better)

I really loved that thing, and I’d still have it today if my dad hadn’t taken it in for scrap without me knowing (very long story, but the tldr is I was driving a car his ex-wife had given me for free, so he thought that meant he got mine. He also didn’t know the fan didn’t work and left it idling, then scrapped it when he blew the engine and I didn’t know for ~2 months)

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
7 months ago

Sunbeam Tiger, my dad found it in the backyard of a house he was doing work on. We gave it a light restoration and then I drove the wheels off it. Do I want it back HELL YES!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
7 months ago
Reply to  BentleyBoy

Your first car was a Sunbeam Tiger!? That is amazing.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
7 months ago

Mine was a facelift Peugeot 106, 1.0 petrol. I bought it from a questionable seller in a sketchy part of town. It was literally one of those click bait YouTube title “I bought the cheapest 106 from the east of France” deal.

It sounded like shit, probably because of a rusted muffler. I owned that car for all of 3 weeks before it got totaled in a parking lot. A Scenic T-boned me and sent the car flying into a Citroen C5.

Despite now hating Peugeot reliability (all the big jobs I’ve done freely for friends have involved a Peugeot, days of work and copious amounts of swearing), I’d love to buy it back. Those things are little go karts. Especially with the right engine.

changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
7 months ago

Half the people on here being American are gonna have to google all 3 cars mentioned. We never got the 106 here (Aus) but we did get the Scenic and C5

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
7 months ago

That is the beauty of that place! I had never heard of Datsuns Z before and I ended up buying one thanks to this site (well jalopnik really but the community is the same)

changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
7 months ago

I had a Volvo 850 CD. In the condition I left it, maybe. It took a while to get reliable and was quite boring to ride but very comfy, loved the styling inside and out. As a commuter, absolutely I would love it again even though I’m writing this 13 years later. Now I can better cope with the massive service costs (relative to the 19 other vehicles I have owned since).

Handlebar
Handlebar
7 months ago

I would consider paying the money to not even be close to it.

1979 Chevette 3 door hatchback. MSRP was 4k, had mailbox style letters that passed for a dealership logo spelling DEXTER, bought for $500 six years later, and it was overpriced. Less hp than two sick weasels, fortunately RWD, this little manual car is likely the photo in the definition of shitbox.

I drove it cross country, solo, through two (or one massive) snowstorm. DC to Portland. Windshield wipers died before I left Pennsylvania. I cranked up the defrost and found a sweet spot to drive behind a few semi trucks that seemed to blow the lighter snow away from me. This sweet spot was definitely in their blind spot, I darned near could have jumped from my hood to the back. And no way I could get their speed without that draft.

By Nebraska, snow was getting wet and I had to get it fixed. No credit card, and cash was already low. I think the mechanics took pity on me. I was relieved it was a cheap fix, so it must have been nearly free. On a Saturday afternoon. Took 4 1/2 days, lots of miles and short sleeps in sketchy hotels for 3 nights. Made it home with $50 left, and the clutch died the next day.

Learned to fix that, and more. Windows broke when you closed a door. Always park on a slope that you can use to bump—start yourself. Headlights were horrible. Seats reclined enough, then wanted to only stay reclined. My Haynes guide was more dog eared than a favored periodical of the era, and twice as grimy.

I didn’t have much choice, so I flogged that thing on logging roads, Forest Service roads, in search of… whatever, for a couple years before finally graduating and going into the Army.

Dexter, the gutless scum puppy from hell… good riddance.

Last edited 7 months ago by Handlebar
Alec Harvey
Alec Harvey
7 months ago

I would buy my 1976 Mazda RX4 back in a heartbeat, I massively regret selling that car.

Last edited 7 months ago by Alec Harvey
Erik Solie
Erik Solie
7 months ago

1968 Dodge Dart GT with the slant six. Despite the fact this car tried very hard to kill me (driving 70mph on the 22 when the headliner decided to turn into a cloud of dust and blind everyone inside the car), I’d have it back in a second.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
7 months ago

Well my brother’s and I bought a running 1968 Javelin for $75. So heck yeah.

JDE
JDE
7 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Sadly I had the one my dad put in a barn in the 80’s, same year, 232 Commando Six, but I lost a job and drug it to dad’s house to store for a little while and he promptly sent it to the Junk Yard when his new wife complained. I would like to have 68 SST for sure.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
7 months ago
Reply to  JDE

Why is it a woman’s instinct is as soon as she sees something makes you happy to throw it away? JK

Marlin May
Marlin May
7 months ago

Fiat 850 Sport Coupe, Series II, just like this one – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/Fiat_850_Coup%C3%A9%2C_Schaffen_Diest_Fly-Drive_2013.JPG/1920px-Fiat_850_Coup%C3%A9%2C_Schaffen_Diest_Fly-Drive_2013.JPG – same color, same everything.

Very pretty. Plastic parts destroyed by L.A. smog. Would I have another one? No.

Last edited 7 months ago by Marlin May
Strangek
Strangek
7 months ago

My 1983 Pontiac Grand Prix in working order? Sure, I’d love to have it back!

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
7 months ago

67 Fiat 1100D station wagon. Young man with a young wife and infant. The old family car my parents gave died (63 Galaxy) and the Fiat was cheap ($700). A lot of what I learned about wrenching was on that car. I had two parts cars given to me just to get them gone. One actually ran. Constantly worked on the brakes but the engine was reliable. Finally sold it when the column mounted shift sheared a bolt and I couldn’t replace it. I was ready to move on anyway but, yeah, I’d like to have another.

James Wallace
James Wallace
7 months ago

My first car… A phrase that brings peals of laughter to my friends. Why, it was a surplus M37 3/4 ton weapons carrier I bought at auction from the Marines for $300. It came with customs decorations, like the 3 bullet holes in the passenger side window. Was it fast, no. It was laughingly slow, like 45 mph. It drank gas, it made unusual smells. It was such a mechanical nightmare, it made me a good resourceful mechanic. Let’s see parts, nope. You had to order them from a place in Memphis. Comfortable, not a design spec. Tough, most defiantly. It actually sheared off a telephone pole off road once, without a noticeable scratch on the ½” thick bumper. Chick magnet, not ones from this planet. Big advantage, you always got the right of way, you had absolutely nothing to lose.

No, I don’t think I would ever want it back. Unless there was a movie I needed to make and I could blow it up.

christoffSF
christoffSF
7 months ago

1983 Honda Prelude stick shift. This was in the mid-90’s, pre Fast N Furious but it was lowered with an exhaust that I put on myself and 95 Integra GSR wheels. I rewired the interior myself to install a totally hidden speaker system – all wires underneath carpet, amp attached to back of back seats, 10″ in the trunk and foglight with a hidden switch. Also had it with an interior controller for pop-up headlight height that I put in myself a few years later.

I assume I got all the various wiring from Fry’s!

It died the day I graduated college – extreme YES I would have it back in a second

Last edited 7 months ago by christoffSF
Beastly_the_HJ60
Beastly_the_HJ60
7 months ago

1959 Beetle, large rear-window variety… And absolutely I’d own it again… at least long enough to get it spruced up and sell it for the small fortune it’s probably worth today (Jason?).

It was a hand-me down when I turned 16 in 1980, direct from my parents business, complete with company logo on the doors (which made it particularly easy to pick on in high-school). It was not “running when parked” when I got it (it had sat in the company parking lot on shot tires for several years).

So I spent a better part of a year getting it back on the road. The years parked had the sun-worn white paint starting to exposing its original (German) factory red, so I managed (somehow, memory fails…) to paint it flat-black (before flat black was even trendy). I ripped out the bulk of the mildewy, rotten interior, and I got some free shag-carpet (in *hot pink*), and upholstered the interior, along with reupholstered seats in black velour…

With that great fashion sense, my friends gave it a very inappropriate, now-unspeakable, nickname (probably deserved… honestly). But it was the fave ride of our bunch, with lots of careening up and down rural roads in search of *something*… And it did have its “unfortunate” moments… among them when a group of the football players decided to do a prank on the cross-country kid (me) and picked up and turned my car 90 degrees in between two of their big pickup trucks… Yeah, good times!!

Later, when I was off to college and didn’t really need a car, it was sold to some employees of my parents, who then Baja’d it into a fairly sweet ride (the pink carpet didn’t last a minute after the sale, sadly). I’d definitely own it in that later condition, as it went the right direction with the soul of that car… I hope it lived a long and happy life in Baja-land.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago

> Would you have your first car back?

Plymouth horizon. I’d buy it back so I could set it ablaze, yeet it into the jaws of a giant crusher, and watch it sink into a tank of molten lava, Terminator style.

Roger Pitre
Roger Pitre
7 months ago

’94 GMC Sonoma. LS trim, regular cab long box. 2WD 4.3L Auto. Bought it brand new and totaled it at 42000 miles. This happened two hundred miles from home. It went to a scrapyard 600 miles away, was purchased at auction by a guy lives sixty miles away, repaired then resold to a fellow fifteen miles away. It’s rotting away in bushes, beyond affordable restorable. Makes me kind of sad…

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
7 months ago

I don’t think so, if I was going to do another air cooled Volkswagen, I’d rather have a standard Beetle than a Super.

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
7 months ago

I still own my first car, 24 years later. It’s a 1974 Buick Apollo. I’m currently restoring it so that when my oldest turns 16 he’ll be able to learn to drive in it and it will be his first car. I still have a few years to go so hopefully it’ll be done properly by then. Also that car is no small part of how I met my wife, her friend almost ran me over getting out of it at college and my wife recognized me later because of the purple buick one of my professors mentioned I drove. Perhaps it’ll bring my son luck in that regard too one day.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

> It’s a 1974 Buick Apollo. I’m currently restoring it so that when my oldest turns 16 he’ll be able to learn to drive in it and it will be his first car.

There are kinder ways to discipline kids.

> no small part of how I met my wife

So your kid will drive a car that was most likely the theater of his future parents’ make out sessions?

Last edited 7 months ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Geekycop .
Geekycop .
7 months ago

I don’t know that a 2 door GM x-body with a buick 350 with a 4 bbl and mild cam, a factory 10 bolt limited slip rear end, and the fact that I am only the second owner from new would be exactly a punishment but I could be wrong.

And as far as the dating thing goes, the motor spun a bearing(at 315,000 miles on the unrebuilt motor) on our second date so was out of commission until the Air Force let my wife come back home from medic tech school at which point the Apollo was my secondary car and I was daily driving a ford focus.

Maybe you’re not entirely wrong though as the Apollo is by far the least attractive of the x-bodies in ’73-’74. Personally I liked the pontiac best but I couldn’t find an Acadian in my price range back then and they’ve only gotten worse in the last 24 years.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

> the motor spun a bearing(at 315,000 miles on the unrebuilt motor) on our second date

You two *really* liked each other 😉

JDE
JDE
7 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

I do have my second nice car from high school. My Daughter is already laying claim to the red 68 Camaro, but I think the price of gas will make the 454 and manual trans less popular to her. Still, it is hers if she wants it.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
7 months ago

In 1985, the year I graduated high school, I bought a ’79 Plymouth Horizon (green, green Custom cloth interior, automatic) from a friend who upgraded to a Mk2 GTI. The L-body came with a sweet Sony digital stereo and $17 in change in the ashtray (a rebate!). It moved me to college and lasted a total of six months before I ran it into the back of a pickup truck (and subsequently a snow bank) on an icy road in my northern Michigan hometown.

Would I have it back? Absolutely, and I’d be the star of RADwood.

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