For most people, the day they get their driver’s license is a huge milestone. But for car enthusiasts in particular, the achievement tends to spark especially bad cases of automotive daydreaming. With a newly minted license in hand, surely there was a dream car that was both desirable and on the edge of actual attainability that you just couldn’t get out of your head. So what was your biggest teenaged car crush?
I’m not talking about super car lust, like the cars on posters you may have had on your bedroom wall as a teen (in my case a Lamborghini Countach).
I’m talking about a car that you wanted really badly, but might have actually been able to get (perhaps with a minor miracle) in real life. The car you hoped to be seen in, the one you thought was a great expression of your taste and personality.
Was it the ride of a spoiled rich kid at school?
Or was it as simple as your grandparent’s car? You know, as in, “I’ll take anything, just let me get behind the wheel!”
For my new driver teenaged reality, I was actually quite happy to pilot my mother’s ’79 Oldsmobile Ninetly-Eight LS. Yeah, just like the ’78 Ninety-Eight LS pictured above, it was brown with a beige vinyl top and brown vinyl interior. But I could drive it! And our Olds had the 403 V8, so it was actually capable of things my mother never dreamed of…but those are stories for another time.
However, for my teenaged “could-maybe-somehow-be-a-reality-someday” automotive fantasy, one car did rise to the top, though the competition for my teen wheels dreams was fierce.
For me, that car was the 2nd generation Supra that appeared for 1982. I absolutely loved the aggressive, angular-aero design with big chunky wheels and long hood over the sweet, smooth and powerful Toyota 2.8L DOHC Inline-6 with the 5-speed manual. I wasn’t entirely crazy about the black-painted hatch and rear bumper on all body colors. But I had a solution for that: get a Gloss Black Supra! It sure was mean looking, at a time when black cars were not ubiquitous.
Inside, what could be better than striped velour Sport Seats (with inflatable lumbar support!) and a high-tech instrument panel? Of course, in my dreams I would have added the top stereo system with the cassette player and graphic equalizer too!
This Supra would have been absolutely, positively perfect. Cool, modern, sophisticated and fast–talk about a date magnet (the car, not teenaged me). And speaking of dating, a woman I did date years later (and ultimately married) had some interesting teenaged car lust of her own. Being the car nut that I am, I asked her early on what car she dreamed of as a teen, and her answer was not what I expected.
Apparently in Bergen County, New Jersey where Kim grew up the Renault Fuego had a short burst as the “hot ticket.” And she always did have a predilection for rounded designs: even as a little girl, she really noticed and liked the AMC Pacer when it came out. So I guess the bubble back French oddball was part of that continuum. Chacun à son goût (to each his own taste).
Speaking of taste, it’s interesting to consider how things have changed since the 1980s, when 2-doors were hugely popular and high on people’s lists of desirable cars. Now small sporty coupes are about as in-style as Knots Landing.
My 18-year-old daughter, for example, has had but one lust vehicle since she first got her learner’s permit: a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, in white, please and thank you.
My 15-year-old son, just starting driver’s ed, fluctuates wildly between dream cars, but an ongoing favorite is the Subaru WRX STI (and yes, he really loves the bright WR Blue).
Both my kids want 4-door and 4wd vehicles—the “it” vehicles for many teens in the 20-teens, just like sports coupes were for many teenagers in the 1980s. But while the vehicle type may change, the desire for cool wheels remains ageless (and hopefully will continue even as vehicles continue to transform).
So now you know my teenage dream machine, and my wife’s and kids’. What was yours?