Arts & Culture

You Never Forget Your First Set of Wheels

G&G readers recall the sometimes-imperfect-but-always-beloved cars and trucks that got them on the road

In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers to tell us about their first car or truck. Here are some of the many responses:

Graveyard Shift


Once I had a full-time job, my dad took me to buy a car. We went to Ussery Volkswagen in Savannah and bought a stick-shift baby-blue Volkswagen. Then the fun began. I was the only sibling my dad taught to drive. He took me to Bonaventure Cemetery to learn. The logic was I couldn’t hurt anyone there because they’re already deceased. —Cathy E.

A baby-blue, four-on-the-floor Ford Pinto with an eight-track player between the two front seats, so you could shove the tape in with your elbow. And it had an ah-OOO-gah horn! —Annette H.

Inherited a 1972 Chevy C10 long-bed pickup from my dad in 1974. Still driving it today. —William M.

My first vehicle, at the ripe age of sixteen, circa 1980 or ’81, was my father’s 1976 Ford F-150 with “three on the tree.” If you can drive that, you can drive most anything. —Rose W.

A ’60 Chevy station wagon I bought to help haul around the equipment for our band. It had 95,000 miles on it at time of purchase. Oh, if it could only talk. —Bayou A.

The Tissue Box


Back in the 1980s, I was thrilled when my parents gave me my first car, even though it was a retired company car from my dads business. Even though it was baby blue. Even though it was a station wagon with an AM radio. My friends called it the “Tissue Box” due to its pastel hue. My big brothers installed an AM/FM cassette player for me, along with some old cabinet speakers, which slid around in the back as I drove. It burned oil, leaving a wake of black smoke behind me, and its vinyl seats torched my legs on many hot South Carolina days. Stylish it was not, but I loved that car and the taste of freedom that it conveyed.—Judy R.

In late May 1965, I took delivery of a 1965 Ford Mustang GT convertible, British racing green with a black interior and white convertible top. I purchased it from Commonwealth Ford in Richmond, Virginia. Fifty-eight years later, I still own the car. It still turns heads with its muscle-car sound. —Jim M.

I was a freshman at FSU in 1965 and was given my grandfather’s 1954 Hudson Super Jet. It had an electrical problem—every time I turned right, the horn blew. —Farr M.

Son, Don’t Buy That Car


A sexy, used ’67 MGB yellow convertible with wire spoke wheels. My dad said, “Son, don’t buy that car,” but I did, and when it ran, it was oh-so-sweet. Sold it about a year later as junk with most of the engine parts in a box. —Jay B.

’55 Chevy. Drove it into a bank one night and totaled it. Not a $$$ bank, a mud bank. Man, I loved that car. Back to walking, hitchhiking, and riding the bus. Lesson learned. —Tony F.

A Chevelle that was purchased brand new off the lot in August 1971. It took almost all of my life’s savings to pay cash for it—$3,100. I named the car the Golden Egg because it was bright, bright gold. I still laugh at the memory of my boyfriend, a girlfriend, and my German shepherd, Ebony, driving from St. Louis to Houston as I returned for my senior year of college. It was hot and the sun was blazing. To our chagrin, the windshield wipers came on intermittently throughout the entire fourteen-hour trip. —Debbie G.

I had a girly, girl car. It was an automatic, pink 1959 Ford Fairlane with buttons, knobs, and shifter all in faux pearl. The seats were pink, black, and white. Back then, it was really beautiful to a sixteen-year-old girl. —Peggy M.

A used British racing green Karmann Ghia. Paid $900 for it. Drove it from Birmingham to Sanibel Island with no AC. Those were the days. —Tommy H.

Donuts with Dad



1967 Pontiac Bonneville. 428 V-8. Learned to parallel park in that eighteen-foot boat. Dad taught me how to do donuts in the snow so I could learn how to pull out of a skid (or so he said). —Kathy D.

A refurbished 1973 orange VW bug that I bought for $1750 in 1981 when I was a junior in high school. My mother called it the Orange Streak because she said that’s what it looked like as I sped down around town. Of course, it was a stick shift where I stalled out all over town learning to drive it, and it had no AC. I could change my own oil and the tires and even changed the accelerator cable once. I loved that car. —Anne-Marie V.

She was a beauty. A 1965 baby blue Mustang coupe, with a stick shift. Washed her just about every day. Took her up Pikes Peak on my honeymoon. —Gail T.

Old Blue! 1960-something Ford Galaxie 500. Passed down from my older brother, who had spray-painted it blue. Wasn’t much of a car, but I finally had wheels to drive to high school and didn’t have to take the school bus anymore. —Tammy B.

1964 Impala SS, pale yellow with black interior, nine-inch chrome reverse wheels, dual chrome flared exhaust pipes, just enough air shocks to make it look a tad faster than it was—which was plenty! Great memories—windows down, Southern rock blasting from eight-track tape player, and cruising through North Georgia mountains. Best car ever. —Ruth F.

Boss Hog



One of my dad’s $100 cars off the car lot where he worked. It was a ’60s white Plymouth with push-button gears. I nicknamed it “the White Pig” because it ate gas, oil, water, and everything it could. I was in college and had to have some kind of transportation. My college was way out from the city among orange groves and a nearby brewer and nothing else. The White Pig and I journeyed through my first years of college in a kind of roller coaster relationship. Every time I came to a stoplight I would have to push in the gears and the whole thing would push back into the dashboard. I would reach for a screwdriver and unscrew the facing just to get the right gear and get going again before everyone behind me started honking. The heater boiled over and hot water poured into the passenger side of the car.  Thankfully no one was with me. But the White Pig gave me joy too. There was little to do on weekends stuck out from town among the orange groves, so my friends and I would pool our money to go for weekend jaunts riding through Florida backroads. All in all, I am very thankful for the “White Pig,” and it was sad when she finally broke down beyond repair, but we had a good ride together.  —S. Rabbit

A citrus green 1970 eight-cylinder RS Camaro. I bought it with my own money. I felt so sexy and privileged, and it was all mine. We had a parkway that went from our church to a park at the end of it. My best friend had a Firebird, and we raced every Sunday after church. I won every time. Go Camaro! —Pamela J.

My first car was a sad gray ’49 six-banger Plymouth coup. My daddy bought it for my brother and me for $300 in 1960. It didn’t take us long to strip it down, paint it black with bright red rims and moon caps. —Bob

“The Bullet.” A brown Datsun B210. Probably still running somewhere around Alabama. —Melinda P.


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