We’ve all had our first time behind the wheel. Filled with trepidation, excitement, and nervousness, it is one of those firsts in life that we will always remember.
I was about nine or ten. Working in the yard, my father told me to move the pickup forward a few feet. After dropping the clutch and peeling off half of some shrub of my mother’s, I got a more complete lesson driving around the nearby cemetery later that day.
The pickup was a 1970 Ford F-100 my father had purchased new with the 240 cubic inch straight six, three-speed manual, and am radio. That was it.
Despite my impressionable age, I have never seen a pickup as eager to be overworked as that old pickup was.
The yellow F-100 at the bottom of this ad is identical in color and trim.
He kept it until 1985. The tin worm had set in and the body supports gave way, putting the transmission linkage in a bind. Stuffing a few 2×4’s under the body, we went to trade it off for a very lightly used 1984 F-150.
So our question: Whether you were of age or not, what was the first vehicle you ever drove?
it was a 1972 Triumph Toledo. The registration inlcuded the digits 999, which is English for 911……..
My first drive on the streets (and the freeway) was in my Mom’s ’65 Dodge Coronet wagon. I was 15, and had no license or instructions….full lurid story here: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/auto-biography/d-stands-for-drive-auto-biography-part-9/
A 1955 Cadillac four door. The family car.
I was all of 7 years old at the time. Our family business was a 150 acre camping/fishing resort (camp ground) and during the off season I was allowed to drive the Cadillac, (by myself!) all over the property.
I had very trusting parents.
I wish it was something a bit more exotic but a well used 1986 Plymouth Turismo my father had obtained as a second car for the family. The dash was swapped in from a Charger at some point. Ours eventually developed a blown headgasket or coolant leak (didn’t know much about mechanics then). Leaked coolant like crazy so we only filled with straight water from a garden hose. I couldn’t go anywhere that I couldn’t borrow a hose to re-fill. Drove it like that for months.
While it wasn’t the first car I drove, from 1989 (age 18) to 1995 (age 24) I owned an ’85 Plymouth Turismo that was virtually identical to the one in your picture, that same light metallic blue color. Mine lacked the spoiler at the base of the trunk/hatch that 90% of Turismos/Chargers seemed to have, as well as the louvers on the back window that were also very common — from the picture it looks like yours didn’t have the spoiler or louvers either? Mine was a real stripper that seemed to have been ordered with virtually no options other than an automatic transmission. Among other things, it lacked a rear widow defroster (this on a car sold new in Massachusetts) and a dome light on the interior ceiling (the only light in the interior was a small map light at the very front of the ceiling).
That wasn’t our car pictured but again it was that exact light blue colour. I don’t believe ours had the spoiler or louvers. It was pretty basic except for the automatic gearbox.
Hmmmm. I recall sitting in my father’s lap and steering his 66 Country Squire when I was maybe 7 or 8. By the time I was 12 or 13 I was allowed to drive his 72 Mark IV about 1/4 mile to his mailbox (all on a private gravel road) and back. A couple of years later, I would spend hours at a time in my stepmom’s 68 Cutlass (that was otherwise sitting unused after she got a 74 Cutlass) on that same U shaped gravel road. Kept the battery charged up. Yeah, uh-huh.
1962 Renault Dauphine with automatic. Dad brought it home one summer afternoon for lunch in ’64. I was 14 at the time. Dad was with me, and we just kept it around the neighborhood.
A small Hanomag Henschel double-cab flatbed truck. I smashed it through the fence of one of our neighbors, and stranded in the middle of his vegetable garden. The total distance I drove was about 30 meters. The engine wasn’t running, but I did manage to release the handbrake and I got it into neutral just before my short trip. It was the sloping road that did the rest…
We’re talking early seventies, when I was about 5 years old.
When I was about that age I got behind the wheel of the family 1955 Studebaker and fooled around pretending to drive. I inadvertently pushed the column shifter out of gear and it started coasting backwards down the driveway. Yikes!!! Somehow I got it back into gear and stopped before it reached the street.
I never heard about the car’s unexplained move at the time. But it was a vivid enough experience to leave a clear memory!
Later I drove a 1960-ish pickup less than a mile on my grandparents’ Kansas farm. That stopped after I nearly put it into a ditch trying to turn. My real first driving was Dad teaching me to drive his 1961 VW Bug.
I see you were more skilled than me by stopping the Studebaker all by yourself.
My first fully legal trips were in a VW Golf Mk1 diesel (the car I took driving lessons in) and our family’s 1979 Ford Fiesta 1300 S. Both with a 4 speed manual. The Ford sure was a hot little hatch. Certainly compared to the Golf diesel, that is.
But the Golf was very easy and simple to drive. Once the engine was warm you could put it into first, release the clutch, and it would roll down the road all day long without touching the gaspedal.
The Ford demanded more concentration for flawless driving. And its automatic choke sucked, if I recall correctly.
I did the same thing in a 64 Cutlass, when I was maybe 5 or 6. I didnt get it stopped, must have been too thrilled by the drive.
Probably an MGB, at a church campout when I was around 13 or so. The owner, on whose farm we camped over the weekend, gave every boy there a chance to drive it…
Well, to really plumb the depths of my memory, my first time behind the wheel was at about 7 or 8 years old, sitting on my father’s lap in his ’54 Ford Customline, attempting to steer the car into the garage (it didn’t work very well). Beyond that, learning to drive in my parents’ cars in 1963, dad’s ’61 Falcon Fordor and mom’s brand new ’63 Mercury Monterey Custom 4-door hardtop (I didn’t get to practice in that car very often). Memorable times.
77 Impala wagon. A few times around a parking lot of course, but then a real trial by fire. Leaving Providence heading home to Philly, Dad had me drive. I 95 can be pretty intimidating to say the least. But not hitting anything sure gave my confidence a boost.
1982: It was a 1973 Plymouth Duster, 318-V8-automatic-metallic gold with a black vinyl top and black int bench seat.
Was my Dad’s car and became mine when I passed my test.
Dad then bought a 1974 Ford Country Squire from a friend with only 29K miles.
The vehicle that would ultimately become my first car: 2004 Toyota Highlander Limited
My dad’s ’66 Chrysler, on the road in front of our cottage. I was probably around 12. He was in the passenger seat.
I’ve only ever driven that car one other time (legally) because he parked it when I turned 16. I drove it a bunch of times, but only in and out of the garage, when I spent one summer fixing the brakes and doing bodywork on it in the driveway.
1976 Ford LTD. Pretty basic big family car. Not very broughamy. In my high school parking lot on a Sunday with my dad in the passenger seat. I wanted that day for at least 8 years. I remember every detail of that very uneventful 1st trip.
At age 16 and with NYS learner’s permit, my dad’s 1985 Chevrolet Caprice sedan, in a blinding February snowstorm off Lake Ontario. He pulled over, we switched seats, and he said, “You may as well learn to drive in this stuff, so let’s start now.”
’72 Pontiac Catalina with a 455. Believe it or not, a high school driver’s ed car.
Wow! My high school Driver’s Ed car (summer, 1975) was a ’75 Buick Century wagon and for stick-shift, a ’74 Chevy Nova . . .three on the tree, 350 4-bbl V-8. Lots of kids in the advanced group we were in inadvertently burned rubber (or not!) off the line in that car . . . .
My brothers Ford Anglia on my 17th birthday
My first drive was in my father’s 1960 Ford Fairlane 500, with the 223 CID six and Fordomatic. I got my learner’s permit in January, 1968 and, on the trip home, managed to slide on some ice and end up with two wheels in someone’s lawn. Fortunately for me there was no damage to either the grass or the car. To his credit, and my relief, my father never said a word about the incident.
A 1977 Plymouth Volare Premier wagon with 360 and Torqueflite.
1969 Ford F-100 stepside, 360 V8.
Jason, I just had a ’70 F-100 in decent shape pass me at an intersection today in central TX.
Hank and Jason – about the time my Grandfather was still alive and shortly after my very first driving lesson in Granny’s New Yorker, Grandpa let me drive HIS ’67 Ford Ranger. Loaded – 289 V-8 and the under-dash A/C unit. No power steering or brakes, but it did have Cruise-O-Matic.
The first car I steered was a 72 Toyota Corona. I have a very vague memory of sitting on my fathers lap steering my grandfathers car. I would have been four at the time.
The first car I drove was our 74 Vega hatchback. I’d been bugging dad for years to teach me to drive so he relented when I was 15 and had me drive around in the Sears parking lot on Sunday afternoon.
My most memorable early drive was in my Grandfather’s 80 Concord. As I’ve mentioned before he learned to drive in his early 40’s and never went on the highway. I had just gotten my beginners and went with my mostly non-english speaking grandparents to visit some relatives about 250km away. The trip there was endless as Grandpa stuck to the minor roads. After our visit as we walked out to the car he gave me the key and said “You drive, and go on the highway.” I was pretty white knuckled for my first time on the 401, I think Grandpa even sat in the back seat leaving Grandma and I to navigate up front.
1953 Ford Mainline 2 door, el cheapo, 3 on the tree, rubber floor mats, etc. Only options were flathead V8 and a radio.
My father’s 1979 Datsun 510 sedan. In 1982 when I 16 1/2 years old – learners permit.
Manual steering and brakes – but automatic!
I learned to dive a stick a year or so later on the small dump trucks my town used for the parks and rec department where I was employed during summer breaks.
The first car I actually drove was my father’s 1973 AMC Gremlin when I had just received my learner’s permit.
The bad news is that…it was a Gremlin, with all that implies.
The good news is that, after learning to drive on a Gremlin, there was pretty much nowhere to go but up.
My dad let me steer his 1966 VW on a back road. That was in 1967, I was ten.
First vehicle I actually drove by myself: 1958 Chevy Fleetside with the no-flame six, 3-on-the-tree and 6 gallons of Bondo. That was in 1971.
First vehicle I actually drove on a highway: 1964 Chevy II wagon, 194/6 and 3-on-the-tree. It was three days after I turned 15 and got my learner’s permit.
1972 Dodge Dart Swinger. Green with the biggest V-8 my grandfather could get. He had a near death experience trying to merge on to the Jersey Turnpike in his 1971 slant six Swinger and desired more power. After he passed my grandmother kept it for years. My brother and I both learned to drive in it on our great uncles farm in West Springfield, MA. That thing only got stuck once in the fields and Uncle Joe pulled it out with his tractor. Ah, memories.
I fear I’m turning into my grandfather and will end up owning a new Dart.
At the “tender” age of 12, taking our 1998 F-250 LD (light duty; it’s a jellybean F-150 with heavier frame, suspension and tranny cooler) roughly 1.5 miles from one farm to another. My father led the way with the JD 3020 and hay baler, meaning we never went faster than 22 downhill.
Of course, before that, I learned to “drive” at 8 on the JD 7210, which is by far one of the easiest tractors to learn on (along with the 7410, which was basically a 7210 with an air-conditioned cab and a radio). Moving to the 3020 or 2510 was a little harder; it takes a little elbow grease for an 8-year-old to shift a non-synchro 8-speed with a non-intuitive shift pattern.
Of course, before THAT, Dad would hitch the ’79 F-250 (the “blue pickup”) behind the hay baler/hay racks/whatever and drive the whole train from our place on the west side of town to the farm on the east edge. I sat in the “caboose” and steered, which was harder than it looked to a 7-year-old with no concept of power steering.
4 door 1973 Chevrolet Impala, I was 15 and the car was already beat to death and rusted.
Pretty cool what percentage of us had the experience of steering a car on our father’s or grandfather’s lap. I thought that the day I was permitted to steer the family Olds (76 Cutlass Supreme) on my Dad’s lap was about the coolest thing ever. That car was history by my fifth birthday, so I was pretty small – kudos to Dad for giving in and enabling my early and apparent fascination with all things automotive!
1992 S10, V6 with a stick. Drove it up the hill at my dad’s work, probably 13. It was the company truck, his boss (and friend) later said to us “I saw that thing jerking up the hill”.
First real drive on street/highway was in dad’s 05 Mustang, GT with a stick, the day after I got my permit in a car that was only a couple months old. I was terrified I was going to wreck it.
Well does sitting on someone’s lap at 5/6yo count? If so, then the very 1st time was around 1968 or ’69 in a 1966 Cadillac Calais (Identical to the car pictured) For a while, it was almost a weekly thing, and I was in charge of doing all of the steering and turn signals, he handled the gas and brake.
This style of ‘driving’ with me went on for several years, mostly in ’70’s Eldorado convertibles, but several other Cadillacs as well. (my Mom dated a Cadillac Sales Manager for over 9 years of my childhood) and after I got taller and better at it, then I was fully behind the wheel. When I wasn’t behind the wheel, he also used to drive with the top down going up to the Abbey in Wisconsin and I recall that giant Cadillac speedometer needle being off to the right around the 100 mark while he steered with one hand, and shelled pistachios in the other, then throwing the shells into the wind. I would sit on the center armrest like a booster to see out better while my Mom was swearing at him to slow down and ‘stop driving like that’
My grandfather had me drive all the time from age 10-14 at 4 or 5am UCD, to go fishing together. Once I got really good, he had me even driving with the boat on the trailer hitch while he dozed in and out of sleep. Those 2 cars were either ’72 or ’73 tan Nova Coupe and then an early ’70s baby blue Ford Gan Torino sedan.
At the age of 13, for an entire summer. I joy-rode my Mother’s 1973 Sedan DeVille to and back from the house in Palos, IL to the borders of: Indiana, Michigan & Wisconsin, and all over the South suburbs of Chicago.
I already had my own Craftsman tools, tune up equipment and detailing set-up from 8/9yo, and knew all about cars and was already tuning up and maintaining several family cars.
Anyhow, I would get under the car and unscrew the speedometer cable so the odometer would not rack up mileage. I sat on a sofa pillow and wore mirrored aviator sunglasses. When nearing the house, I would fuel back up, park the car and connect the speedo cable back again. The Cadillac only got about 9mpg, and I think gas was around .70c gal I did this with my best friend all summer long, nobody ever knew, and no accidents. When my Mom got home from work on those days (car pools then), all she saw was her wonderful, well-behaved son just finishing a wash/wax on her beautiful car, none the wiser.
At the end of summer, returning from a trip to and from the Wisconsin border again, I stopped in a toll-booth and the car died out. It didnt break down, it ran out of gas. We were both 13yo and only had some change in our pockets. We jumped out and pushed the car to the side. Remember no cell phones or any of that stuff. So, we talked for a bit and I decided that I was gonna climb the tollway fence over into a residential area to see what I could come up with. The fence was very high but I made it over. I found a man cutting his lawn and then explained to him that my family was stranded, out of gas on the Tollway and that nobody had a wallet or money with them other than a buck and change. You must keep in mind this is about 1976 very different people and times. He offered me the fuel that was left in his gas can and I promised him that I would even return it after using the gas. Not only that, but he gave me $5 no strings attached but a promise to return the can. I got back to the fence and my friend Roger climbed up one side while I on the other and we got the can over without dropping it. It was easy to pour with those old flexible metal snake screw caps the cans had. After emptying it into the Cadillac, I did actually go back and return the can with a big thank you. (i mean, i was raised right ya know 🙂
So, we got past that part and as soon as we exited the tollway, we fueled up with his $5 to head back so I could drop off Roger at his house and then get Mom’s car back in it’s place in time for her arrival from work.
Well, that day was the double whammy on me. First the fuel incident, then upon pulling up to drop off Roger around the corner from his house (which I did dozens of times) he gets out and walks away. Right as I start the car, a local police car pulls up behind me with the lights on. I can’t tell you how scared I was because I knew I was screwed for sure. And, my friend Roger was around the bushes peeking and then bolted into his house. uggh Anyway, the officer approached the car, I had the window down and he, as they do… asked for my Driver’s License. I told him, oh, I don’t have it with me right now, I lost my wallet. He saw the pillow I sat on (it was orange and against white leather. yep), and then asked me to remove my sunglasses. He said something like, son, you don’t have a drivers license do you? My immediate reply was this: Please… just let me get this car back home, its just like 3 minutes from here. I HAVE to get the car home. Just let me get the car parked at home and then I can go with you …
Son, you aren’t going anywhere in this car, lock it up right here, give me the keys and you are coming with me. He took me to the station, put me in a small room all alone, I was shaking and starting to cry. He asked me questions about family, etc then called my Mom at work, explained to her what he discovered and that he had me at the station. My Mother tells me she told him to just make me stay right there until she left work at her regular time and got there to pick me up. I was there for hours in terror, worry and fear with no way out this time. It was horrible.
I got in trouble with this being recorded against me in Illinois and they determined that I would not get a DL until I was 22yo on a state record. The only way I got out of it all early was because I started driver ed at school and after the 2-3yrs passed, I told my Mom I NEEDED a car to get a good job. Eventually I convinced her and the only reason I could do it was that her close friend Bob G. worked for the Sec of State office in Springfield, IL Let’s say he ‘fixed’ it and made it go away for me. w/o him, I would not have been driving until 22yo!
So, I finally got my own 1st car to drive, a 1974 Triumph Spitfire Convertible. I will save the horrid details on that British TURD for another thread or post.
Hope you enjoyed my memories of first-time driving escapades 🙂
I certainly did. Excellent.
Daring! I never had that kind of nerve.
Mike, appreciate you calling it ‘daring’. Today, in retrospect… I can look back and call it any number of ‘other’ things, even myself. There were actually 2 additional cars involved over that time that I secretly drove also and the owners never knew about it. I didn’t mention them here because they are an entire story all on their own. Those cars were a Fleetwood Brougham and a Monte Carlo. At one point, I had my own key copies to 3 different people’s cars.
I was so lucky that I never had an accident or worse. No license, no insurance. I don’t know what my family would have done if that happened.
On the other hand… It was all the adults around me though that trained and encouraged me to drive across a full 10 year span before the law allowed it. And, I did get pretty good at it too. One thing is certain, I didn’t need lessons by the time it came up in high school driver ed 🙂
It did make for a great convo and family laugh together though when we celebrated my 50 last November.
“On the other hand… It was all the adults around me though that trained and encouraged me to drive across a full 10 year span before the law allowed it.”
They did set themselves up for this. My oldest just came up for her license last year. She pointed out that the neighbor girl was being allowed little joy rides around the block a couple of years early. I said no, you have no insurance and your time will come.
The neighbor lucked out and never had any incidents. On the other hand, a week before her 16th birthday, I was moving cars around to get our boat out, and I asked my daughter to move our Durango from the street to the driveway while I bought gas. I came home and she had this sad face. She had backed up unnecessarily to improve her swing into the driveway, and clipped the brick six box mailbox by the curb. Made a mess of the bumper cover. I was very lucky that the mail box was fine. They get hit occasionally and can collapse into a $4,000 pile of bricks.
All my caution very nearly collapsed with my request that she drive illegally on 60 feet of public street! My daughter offered to pay for the bumper cover but I told her it was quite technically my fault.
Thought this would be fun to add to my post, just spent a bit of time (having a cocktail) and digging thru some old shoe boxes of photos. Took a couple of quick pics of a pic, so no so good plus v old.
Anyhow these are 2 of the cars in my story that I drove. The infamous 1973 Cadillac Sedan deVille, and a great memory to run across of my Grandpa lying on the hood, drinking a Schlitz beer! with his recent purchased Chevrolet Nova. (one of you will know the exact year by the grille, color or something 🙂 but the pic says June of ’72
The other good news is that I found quite a few pictures of some of my dozens of cars that I have not seen or looked at in years (and my childhood car shrines),so I will scan them in for use in the future here when an appropriate post comes up.
If you’d like to take a shot turning your stories into a CC post, let me know. Vintage snapshots and stories to go with them are always popular here.
Now I want a Schlitz!
“Anyhow, I would get under the car and unscrew the speedometer cable so the odometer would not rack up mileage.”
Haha that’s awesome! All that brilliance undone by running out of gas!
I too steered and shifted but from the passenger’s seat. I developed a fine sense for steering and shift feel at a young age. Domestic power steering back then was downright scary. When I steered in my uncle’s non-power steering Maverick for the first time it felt like a sport car.
If a car has bad steering feel (like the C3 Audi 5000) I cannot fall in love with it. I’m more tolerant of bad shift feel because you can adapt to it. Hard to do with steering.
Okay, as a preface I am only 16 and have my learner’s permit. (Really behind on practice hours too lol). The first car I drove was my mom’s beige 2004 Honda Odyssey. Rubbish steering but I liked that revvy Honda engine. Only drove it around a parking lot for an hour and a half. The first car I drove on the road was my driving teacher’s 2000 Chevy Impala. Good car but brakes were soft. Second car I drove on a road was my dad’s 2011 Mercedes C300 Sport 4Matic. That was a helluva fun car to drive.
1976 International Harvester Scout II
In the field behind our house. Dad figured it was time to learn how to drive a stick and since it was the third vehicle and needed occaisional exercise, he figured it was a good opportunity. Off we went with a granny gear and 304V8, learning how to slip the clutch and not roll backward on inclines.
1967 Ford Galaxie 500 4 door sedan with the 390. Can’t recall the exact place, but more than likely the cemetery, considering we lived next door.
1984 Chevy Cavalier and 1980 Buick Regal
My first car i drove was a 1976 vw bay window bus at my grandfather’s farm. 2.0 with automatic. I must have been 15 at the time. My dad didn’t believe in fast, expensive cars for his kids.
1958 Plymouth Belvedere 4 Door Hardtop, Red and White. The car was new, I was eleven.
at Age 12 (1983) drove my mothers 1974 Delta 88 Royal Around Cleveland at 3AM listening to spandau ballet “True”. Needless to say she hid her keys from that point on.
Ever since then loved Oldsmobiles.
lol that’s why you have to go make your own set of her keys and then you hide your set away from her. -worked every time 🙂
When I was about 4 I sat in my dad’s lap and “steered” our ’61 VW around a parking lot while he worked the pedals and gear shift. I’m pretty sure he kept a hand on the wheel just in case. When I was about 11 or 12 he started letting me drive our ’73 Impala on back roads once in a while, and that was the first time I ever drove a car myself. That became a regular thing, and by the time I actually got my beginners I was already quite comfortable driving. Love the old Ford truck brochures – the late ’60’s and early ’70’s Fords are probably my favorite pickups of all time.
Probably it was our 1978 Caprice Classic. I flunked the first driving test I took in that car, though (parallel parking). The second time I used my dad’s 1981 Chevy Custom 10 pickup, and passed with flying colors. I think the truck was somehow easier to parallel park because the corners of the long bed were so visible!
1973 Corolla 5 speed Sport Coupe (as referenced in yesterday’s Corolla Liftback article). Even though Toyotas are everywhere nowadays, back then it was a rather rare and unique ride.
If I ever find one on the street, it will appear in a COAL article.
My Grandmother’s 1969 Chrysler New Yorker four-door sedan. I was visiting her in the summer (like I normally did) and I slid in behind her and drove the car on a country road. I was about 11 years old.
The first vehicle i “soloed” in was grandpa’s 1930’s IH tractor. He did have to crank start it. I dont remember how old I was at the time, probably ten or eleven.
My friend’s mom’s 3-cylinder auto Geo Metro. He let me drive it (with he and another friend in it) to the beach on several occasions, most notably once on a holiday weekend. He said that he should probably drive it home since the cops were out. He was right; we got pulled over for some bogus reason. Cop let us go with a warning.
Fiat 500, through the streets of Rome. From the backseat (much love Zio Pietro).
My time driving a working vehicle was an 05 Sedona because our 95 Voyager had yet to be returned from Delaware where it had been found after being stolen. The Sedona’s touchy accelerator meant I spun the tires often and the overly easy to turn steering wheel scared both my mom and I.
Snapper riding lawnmower.
Well, if we’re going to go there, then ditto, except I think it was a Cub Cadet. Probably 10 at the time, almost ran myself over. Don’t ask…
I am amazed at how many of you joy rode your parents car. Maybe I was too much of a goody goody, but the thought never crossed my mind. I did have a friend who took his dad’s F100, but he got caught when he nearly sidewiped another truck and busted off the truck mirror. Then he got his license anyway, and after our graduation party had some, er, difficulty backing out of the hosts driveway and got the trucks step bumper stuck in the wheel well of another car. He was lucky it was 1980 because he got off without a DUI, which wouldn’t happen now…he’d have been locked up.
Come to think of it maybe he led a charmed life, this was the same friend who dried his homegrown in his mom’s toaster oven and didn’t get caught.
When I was learning how to drive, in 1987 (gasp — 27 years ago…ha ha), my parents had 2 cars. One was a 1978 Plymouth Volare station wagon. No, it wasn’t a rust bucket. In fact, it was in nice shape. I drove that, and I drove a 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura. The Ford would later become mine, when I went to college.
Technically, does a go-kart at a track at age 5 or 6 count?
Only if your name is Jeff Gordon.
Or if you are The Stig?
1977 dodge pickup. Slant 6. 3 on tree. Manual choke brakes n steering. No options. That’s what I learned to drive. First car. 80 olds delta 88 royal brougham. Power everything. Later found ford does brougham better.
Growing up I drove tractors and some old pickups (always Fords) on the family farm but the first actual car I ever drove was my Moms 1982 Olds Delta 88. It was a sharp car, a 2 door Royale that was two tone light redwood over burgandy with a burgundy interior and Olds Rallye wheels and a 307. I guess I was about 12 or 13 when she would have me move it around the driveway and things like that. I started to drive it when I got my learners permit and really wanted to inherit it as my first car but she gave it to my brother when he joined the Navy and needed a car. The dumbass wrecked it within a year but I was able to get my other brothers equally cool 1973 Grand Prix as my first car. I still have the GP and I picked up a copy of my Moms Olds last year.
’70 Maverick, then ’69 LTD. As commented before, drove Astre and Granada in driver’s ed, but much later.
’67 Fiat 850 spyder. Straight into a curb. I was nine.
1978 Chevette. Hey, at least everything from then on was an improvement.
1965 Chevrolet C10. Green and rust colored, with a 350/350 combo in it from the ’71 Impala that my Mom wrecked.
One of my only memories of being three was sitting on my grandfathers lap and steering his old econoline van in his driveway. This was repeated through the years with his next econoline and of course being on his knee on his old Massey back on his wood lot.
The first car I actually drove was a 81 tercel sr5 which was also the first time dealing with a stick. I learned quick and beat the guts out of that thing during its short live time with me.
1978 Chevy Pickup when I was 12
1963 Buick LeSabre… although I wasn’t technically “driving” it… I was 7 or 8 at the time. A neighbor girl and I were messing around in it in our driveway when I managed to take it out of Park, and off we rolled… down the driveway, across the street, and into another neighbor’s mailbox. Mom wasn’t too pleased…
The first one I actually tried to drive ended rather poorly… I was 14 at the time, and my dad’s ’52 Chevy pickup needed to be moved, so I hopped in it and moved it. Unfortunately I didn’t know at the time both the clutch AND the brake pedal had to be pushed at the same time to make it stop… I used a parked trailer instead. Dad was not pleased either.
My old man first turned me loose in his mothers 75 Buick Lesabre that she didn’t drive anymore. He felt his 74 Buick Electra 225 would be too much. My recollection is that my biggest initial problem was too much pressure on the heavily boosted power brakes.
The old man was of the smoothness school of driving as was one of my automotive idols, Jackie Stuart. I eventually learned to accelerate, brake, and drive around curves to his satisfaction. My father and Sir Jackie believe that smooth was safer and faster. My driving experience has been consistent with this. The old man is now 78 and still a very smooth driver in his Chevy Equinox, if a bit slower.
After a few lessons on that car I was allowed to drive his car and my mothers 82 Chevy Caprice which felt like a sports car compared to the Buicks. The 77 downsized GM B&C bodies really were much better handing vehicles that still had the old school quiet isolated ride. Quite a while later I was allowed to drive the old man’s full size Chevy Blazer as well. My brother bravely volunteered his manual transmission Ford Escort so I could learn to drive a manual transmission.
Nearly 30 years and God knows how many miles later, I think they did a great job.
First anything was a Farmall cub but with wide front axle not row crop it had a centre mount grader blade which was the most effective brakes it had the pedals did nothing as a boat launching tractor the brakes were gone but for going flat out along a beach the blade was primo for brakes first passenger vehicle on public roads was an Austin Gipsy 4WD hardtop pickup I doubt many have even seen one but the one I drove was a 66 apparently by 64 they had them figured out just in time to go out of production,
Age 12 in the Austin about 8 on a tractor most of the farm kids then could drive tractors before age 8
NOT of age. When I was 11 my father let me do figure 8’s in my school parking lot in his 84 Monte Carlo SS. I was tall for my age so I had no problem seeing over the dashboard.
A few years later when I was 14, my stepmother refused to drive it, saying it was “too big”. My father wasn’t working, so the SS just sat at the bottom of the driveway while they used the newer (and smaller) Prism.
They were gone for the day with my brother and stepbrother. I got bored, went down and started it up and drove it about a mile up the country road we lived on. I was too scared to go any further so I turned around and came back. No one was the wiser.
My grandfather’s Subaru Brumby (aka Brat) on his farm. First when I was about 6-7, he would get out of the ute in 1st-low and climb in the back to feed out grain for his stock while I steered. I figure if I wasn’t there he would jump out and hop behind the wheel when he got near the fences – a lot safer with a helper! I don’t remember doing that when I was big enough to reach the clutch, I think instead I was the one in the back with the bags of grain (too small to manage them previously).
My very first time ever behind the wheel of a ‘real’ vehicle was when I was 12 or 13 and my dad finally gave in to me hammering him about starting to teach me to drive. We went to the parking lot of the high school I would soon attend and that’s when I took the helm of our tutone blue and white ’85 Bronco. It looked a lot like this one: http://www.cardomain.com/ride/616881/1985-ford-bronco/
I could’ve spent HOURS behind the wheel of that rig! With the power of a 351W and such a short wheelbase, what a blast. Dad kept a sharp eye on me as I piloted the big Bronc all over the nice empty expanse where I could do no harm. This was well before I got my learners permit but by then. Even though it wasn’t my holy grail Jeep CJ, hell it wasn’t even a Mopar but the ’85 was still an unfathomably cool potential first set of wheels and started planting ideas in my head. Would it someday be mine? If so, the 31″ tires on 15 x8 white spokes would be gone in favor of a 6″ lift, big honkin super swampers on a fresh set of slot mags. The rear fiberglass hardtop would be put in semi-retirement in favor of a soft top, and those dual turbo mufflers had no place on MY future rig, oh HELL no! Cherry bombs for me, thank you! BUT, it was not to be….
Shortly before I got my full on learners permit, we sold the blue ’85 to a family friend. It was getting a few miles on it and while we were taking fewer and fewer trips up to NJ, or down to FL or AL to visit family, this behemoth LOVED its petrol. Our ’79 Vandura was for those trips and it too was getting long in the tooth so we swapped it on a ’88 Eddie Bauer Bronco in copper and tan, looking much like this:http://www.supermotors.net/registry/9036 except under Dad’s control that top would NEVER be removed. With that dopey aerodynamic front clip, a much more homely color scheme and an anemic 302, this wasn’t half the rig of the ’85 but Id much rather be learning on this than the usual buicks and tauruses my friends were learning on. Still, it was a stopgap, and we were down to one vehicle that we actually owned, Dad always had a company vehicle. This would make for the first vehicle I ever took on public roads.
Fast forward to 1990 when I got my actual license. Dad had to give up 2 late 70s 4×4 Fords and badly wanted/needed another pickup. I would need something to drive too, and since it would be primarily in my hands opportunity knocked. Dad would hear nothing of a Jeep since it wouldn’t fulfill pickup duties. A scrambler…well I could’ve talked him into one, IF Jeeps weren’t scarce as hens teeth in west TN back in the day. Dad was even less impressed with the virtues of smaller trucks that I was (except the commanche and Dakota) and a J-series, well…rarer than hens teeth! We looked at chevys, gmc’s and even a few fords (dad really likes his fords) and I came close to getting stuck with a hideous tan and blue tutone F-150…DAMN, what psycho ever came up with the idea of blue and tan?!?! But the price wasn’t right, I balked pretty hard, and my Dad does have a slight preference for manuals. I wanted to learn a stick in the WORST way, so with time we found it: A pristine black with tan interior ’84 Dodge Power Ram! 318, 4 spd granny gear trans, 4wd, short bed, no luxo options but a creampuff with barely 60K on the clock. It looked a bit like this: http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/1984-Dodge-Ram-Pictures-c6662 No, it had no removeable roof and it wasn’t a Jeep but I learned how to drive a stick, and THAT truck is the first vehicle I ever drove all by myself. Dad still owns it, actually. Its seen a 4 inch lift, 360 heads, some engine work…but its still a beauty. One day it will be mine once more! Hopefully not for a while yet though.
Count me in with the lap driving bunch, with my dad in the family ’56 Hillman Husky. I hope to see a write up on that one someday, although I don’t think you could find one at the curb. The first one I drove on my own was a ’63 Corvair when I was 13. I was always small for my age until high school, so I liked that small car. It was well used, and was a stop gap car that Dad bought when the ’62 Lark threw a rod bearing. We had it about a year until we could afford to buy a newer car (a year old ’68 Vista Cruiser). The Corvair had a 4 speed, and I killed it many times before I figured out how to get it going. And now, around 45 years later, most young drivers don’t get to experience a manual transmission.
Like others, I remember steering as a small child while sitting on my father’s and grandfather’s laps, but I don’t recall the specific cars involved. With my dad, it was most likely a ’73 Pontiac Ventura (bought new in the fall of ’72, owned until ’78) or a ’78 Ford Granada that replaced it (bought reconditioned sometime in 1978, after the original owner had experienced a fire under the dash related to the AC system). My grandparents had a succession of 1971-74 Fords of various shapes and sizes (Pinto [X2], Maverick, Gran Torino, Custom 500, F100) and it could have been any of them. My grandparents also used to let me drive a ride-on lawnmower up and down their driveway when I was about ten years old.
The first car I ever drove for real was a 1987 Plymouth Sundance. My parents bought it new in the summer of 1986 (IIRC, the all-new ’87 Sundance/Shadow came out a little earlier than the start of 1987 model year proper), and I first drove it when I got my learner’s permit in 1987. Their other vehicle at the time was a 1976 Ford Club Wagon, which they wouldn’t let me drive because they felt it was too big for a novice driver to handle.
I first started driving at about age 8 on my uncle’s 1939 Ford tractor. But that’s boring.
Not so boring was hubcap stealing in my best friend’s dad’s 1958 Ford Fairlaine 500 with a 332 V8 (Y-block?) with 265 horses, in Mexico City when I was 12. It would shit and git. Stop? Not so much. We would have to breath it until the brakes cooled down. I would spend the night at my friend’s house, and when we were sure his parents were asleep, we would push the Ford out of the garage and down the street when we could start it without waking up his dad.
The adrenaline rush we got when we popped of a cap was one of the most orgasmic feelings I’ve ever had, and certainly better than any of the drugs that I once ingested. My friend made some folding green by selling the pilfered chrome domes to one of the numerous “used” hubcap dealers near where we lived.
As Junior Johnson once responded to the question as to what was more exciting-racing or running liquor, he was succinct. Running hooch. In racing, the worst thing that could happen to you was to not win the race. Running shine, on the other hand, posed other problems for the losers-hitting a big oak on a backroad could be fatal, and getting nabbed by the Feds was good for an extended, all-expense paid stay at the Graybar Hotel. Stealing hubcaps wasn’t quite that dire, but it was a rush.
I think the 332 was the early small displacement FE engine. Believe the 312 was the big Y block.
The first self-powered machine I drove was my father’s ’71 Cub Cadet Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor (149 model). A couple years later he let me steer his white 1965 Impala Sport Sedan (283/powerglide/blue interior) around the block.
A few years later he told me to pull his beat-up white ’76 Eldorado convertible forward a few feet — he was doing something to it (I forgot what). He did not tell me that one must apply the brake when shifting an automatic transmission into gear and it almost got ugly.
The first car I actually drove on the street was my stepmother’s nasty base beige AMC Concord sedan with her in the passenger seat. My driver’s ed car was a base ’84 – ’86 Cavalier sedan which I really liked. My Illinois driver’s license test was taken in my stepmother’s next car, a lavender ’84 Sunbird Convertible with cloudy rear window.
The first vehicle I ever drove by myself was what became my beloved first car, a rusty light blue 1978 Firebird Esprit (Chevy 305-2). Rather than repeat my lengthy diatribe a second time on this site, I’ll just say that my first solo drive in that Firebird was a 12-hour 700 mile journey that cemented my adoration of non-gold ’77-’78 Firebirds.
For me it was my Dad’s friend’s mint 71 Chevy Cheyenne. He borrowed it for us to go fishing and out in the country he let me drive it. I was maybe 10, but tall for my age.
We were an import household by that time and the memories of the Chryslers and Cadillacs were fading. I will never forget that day for many reasons, including it was when I became a GM fan for life.
Holy shit was that C10 smooth. It had the 350/350, factory A/C and a killer blue/ white two tone. I remember chrome trim rings or something like that. The ride was (seriously) like a Cadillac on those country roads. What suspension travel! Later I would learn about its coil spring rear suspension.
Not to sound like a total asshole but that morning I predicted luxury trucks would take off some day. I felt GM made the best vehicles in the world, and they did. Shortly after that I got to drive a 73 Mustang 302 and let me tell you that was a huge piece of shit. I formed a very low opinion of Ford and a fondness for the Mustang II. It was a much better car. Things are all relative you know.
Back when I was about 3-4 years old, I stole the keys to our ’87 Chevy Z-24 from my dad’s pocket while we were at a Dairy Queen..I made it as far as starting the car before the girl at the window told my dad what was transpiring.
First time I actually controlled a vehicle on my own was my dad’s ’88 Chevy K1500 Silverado 5-speed when I was 12..he let me drive it up the road to our driveway (and I did not stall it!)
First vehicle I legally drove would be my mom’s ’99 Pontiac Bonneville..nice riding car, but nothing exciting (never really understood that Pontiac “driving excitement” slogan in the 90’s)
At the age of 12, driving dad’s 1977 Jeep Wagoneer, hauling tree branches (the result of a windy summer storm) from the front yard, around our ranch house, to the backyard fire pit. I was forbidden to touch the accelerator, which was fine because even at idle in Drive it would do 15). I tried to make as many trips as I could, hauling one or two branches at a time, with my arm out on the window and the radio on.
Hmmm, horrifyingly enough for a huge car fan, I can’t remember the first car!! It was in 1988, the moment I turned 15, and was either my parents’ 1983 Mk V Ford Cortina (manual trans) or my grandparents’ 1986 XF Ford Fairmont (auto trans and Aussie model). I drove both around the same time in paddocks on the family farm where my grandparents lived.
I only drove the Cortina once before it was traded on an ’85 Ford Sierra, so the Cortina may have been #1. I remember the non-power steering was heavy at low speed, but the clutch was ok. I did most of my learning in the Sierra – it was nice to drive, although the trans gate (gaite?) was too close together, so I frequently went from 2nd gear to 5th instead of 3rd.
The Fairmont was definitely the first vehicle I drove by myself though, until I was banned(!) at least. My grandfather was shifting the stock for my Uncle and would let me drive the Fairmont while he was doing so. I was practicing slow speed slalom manouvres and discovered the speedo worked in reverse. So naturally I did the slaloms in reverse, as you do. And then repeated them faster to see what the speedo said, as you do. And as I was short for my age, I was kneeling on the seat with one leg, as you do… My Grandmother observed this enthusiastic reverse-slaloming and was strangely not amused, which prematurely ended my Fairmont driving career. Go figure…
* first vehicle I drove (aged 10 in 1984) – a red tractor (Massey Ferguson? International?)
* first time I scared my Dad enough that I wasn’t allowed to drive again until I was of licencing age – the red tractor…
* first vehicle I drove alone (1984) – Honda XR250 motorbike
* first vehicle I crashed (1984) – Honda XR250…
* first car I drove (1988) – ’83 Cortina or ’86 Fairmont
* first car I drove alone (1989) – the Fairmont
* first car I was banned from driving – the Fairmont…
* first manual (and first 4 cylinder and first station wagon) – the Cortina
* first auto (and first 6 cylinder and first sedan) – the Fairmont
* first van (1991) – ’82 Mitsubishi L300
* first column-change manual – the Mitsi above (this did not go well)
* first V8 (1991) – ’75 XB Ford Falcon GS (sounded awesome but was all nice noise and no real power, and had the 5 turns lock-to-lock non-power steer)
* first car I drove alone with passengers other than my instructor (1991) – ’73 Ford Escort
* first car I drove that had the gear level pull out of the transmission tunnel and end up loose in my hand, leaving me confused (1991) – the ’73 Escort
* first rotary (1992) – ’71 Mazda RX2
* first truck I drove, and also first diesel (1995) – 1994 Ford Trader 0510
1968 Datsun 1600 (510), at the age of 10
1985 Ford Mustang at age 6 though I just steered it, my dad shifted the gears and pressed the gas, I guess it doesn’t count.
When I was about 6 in the mid 1950’s, a family friend let me sit on his lap and steer his deep blue ’55 Pontiac 4 door sedan down our driveway. I still remember the Indian head emblem on the steering wheel.
For actual driving, it was probably the family’s ’63 Meteor, on a private dirt road at our summer cottage. There were about 5 cottages on the road, and after the age of about 14 or so most kids were allowed to drive ‘carefully’ on their own. Like most kids then, I had my full license within a month or two of my 16th birthday.
My biggest regret was when a visiting business acquaintance of my father’s took me for a drive in his E-type, in about 1965. He stopped on the highway and offered to let me drive it. I was maybe 15 – and turned him down. Still can’t quite believe that, although the fact that it was a standard had something to do with it.
1st vehicle I ever drove was a Early 1960 Series IIA Land Rover on my grandparents acreage. It was a great work truck & utility vehicle I was 13. Clutch was shot and the engine frequently fouled the spark plugs.
1st Truck vehicle would be a 1994 or 1995 Ford L9000 Aeromax with a 3406E Cat and 7sp pulling doubles over Donner from Reno to Sacramento when I was 26.
My dad had just bought a brand new 1971 19 ft Winnebago Brave. I was 14. We were getting ready to go coast to coast (we lived in Southern California). We would eventually wind up in Erie, Pa where he was born and many of his friends and family still lived. I thought I should make sure the fresh water tank was full, engine, transmission, radiator, etc were all topped up for the long trip. When I took off the radiator cap (attached to a long tube from the grill to the engine between the seats), I could not see any antifreeze at all. I stuck my finger as far as it would reach, still dry. So I got the garden hose out and began to top it off. It ran for a good minute or two, so I stopped and looked again. Still dry. Then I looked on the other side and saw another long tube with a radiator cap on it. I took it off. Antifreeze was right up to the top. Then I read the printing on the radiator cap I first removed. It said “Oil”. Then I pulled out the 4 foot long dipstick attached to a long tube going to the engine. There was what looked like chocolate milk going the whole way to the top of the dipstick handle. Then I looked at the second cap. It said “Radiator”. I knew I would be killed if the old man found out what I did to his new Winnie. My parents were out shopping at the time. I had a 62 VW bug that I was fixing up and had just got running. My first drive was in that car to the parts store to get a case of oil and a couple of oil filters. I learned also how to shift (I pretty much already knew how from moving it in and out of the driveway. Made it back OK and drained the engine, changed the filter and started it. Ran it for a few minutes then drained it out again and put on the second filter. Just as I finished they drove up and I started it up again. The oil looked fine and the engine sounded OK. We took off on our trip with me crapping my pants for the first hour or two, waiting for it to start knocking or blowing up. It ran fine. UNTIL about 3 hours or so, It started to buck and cut out and shake. I knew right then I was dead. The dealer would say, this engine is full of water. What did you do? Then dad reached down to the floor, turned a lever and it started to run perfectly. He had a puzzled look on his face, turned the valve again and the same thing happened. Turns out after we were towed into a shop, he had had a second fuel tank installed and a loose clamp was sucking air, causing it to cut out. I think I sweated out about 5 gallons by the time I found out this was the problem.
Haha, best story yet! 🙂
Thanks! I never forget that one. Finally got up the nerve to tell my parents about it, about 20 years later. Mom laughed. Dad smiled, but still had a funny look on his face. They had that Winnie for years, never had any engine problems.
The car that popped my driving cherry, so to speak, was my dad’s nineteen-seventy-something Mini van that had been converted to a station wagon. Motoring come much more basic than that! I was 11 years old and mum was teaching my brother to drive in an empty parking lot. I guess she didn’t find that nerve-wracking enough because she then offered me a turn. After a couple of lurches and stalls I actually got to burn around the car park for a while. Can’t imagine my dad ever letting me do that!
The first car I drove regularly (and in which I learned properly) was the family Subaru Wagon – a 1981 Leone 4wd with four on the floor and 1600 twin carb sport motor swapped in. It wasn’t fast, but when you’re 15, anything feels like a Ferrari after you’ve just climbed off a bicycle!
First vehicle was a Massey-Ferguson tractor, in the lap of my great uncle on his sugar cane farm about the age of five.
First car was a 1977 Chrysler Galant station wagon owned by my parents, which was a rebadged Mitsubishi built in South Australia.
Must have been my Dad’s Citroen DS 20 Pallas on a country road in France when I was 12 or 13… I still remember the sound of the hydraulics “waking up” when you started the engine.
Aside from sitting on dad’s lap at the wheel of his 1950 Plymouth in 1957 at 6 years old going down our alley when we still lived in the city of St. Louis, my first real taste of driving (without touching the gas pedal) was in dad’s 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer La Femme(!) in the Northland Shopping Center parking lot in Jennings, MO on Sundays when I was 13, so I would, in dad’s words, “know what to do” in case something happened to him while going somewhere.
That car was flashy – lots of chrome, white roof, black middle and some sort of pinkish-orange lower, a two-door hardtop.
I learned to drive in dad’s next car – his magnificent 1960 Impala sports sedan – 4 door hardtop. Yes, I rolled all the windows down and opened the vents wide as often as I could, too…
Mom’s 1963 Tempest. Red 4 banger with the shift lever on the dash.
I drove a good one. My sister had a ’68 Cutlass that had a problem with the power seat. My sister isn’t very big, and she’s a “close driver”, so the seat was all the way forward when she drove it, and it kept getting stuck there. The dealer was a friend of my dad’s, so we were well taken care of, even better than most families who bought a lot of cars from that dealer. They came and picked up her car, and left a ’69 Hurst Olds in the driveway. I was about 14, and I had been moving cars for about a year at that point, and my dad sent me to pull his car out of the garage and move the HO over to the other side of the driveway. I got brave and took the HO out onto the street and drove it about a half mile around the neighborhood. Twice. I got away with it. Next car I drove solo was a Plymouth Scamp, a huge step down.
I’m pretty sure it was either my mother’s ’84 Dodge Aries K, or my grandfather’s ealry ’80s Buick LeSabre. It would probably be one of those park it in the driveway situations.
Most of my early driving was spent on ride-on mowers. I also remember cutting alfalfa on my great aunt’s farm as a kid too. I just had to keep the tractor straight while an adult helped me drive.
As for actually legally driving on the road, it was either my mother’s ’91 Escort, or the driving school’s late ’80s Nissan Micra.
Legitimately driving, once I had my learner’s permit, I’m sure my first car I drove was our 1974 Datsun 710 sedan (I later inherited that car). Before that, I’m a bit hazy, as a “laptop” driver I think my Uncle may have had me steering his ’51 Chrysler Windsor (which he inherited from my Grandfather), though I probably also similarly “drove” my Father’s ’65 Olds F85, his ’59 VW bug, and his ’69 Ford Country Squire. The second car I would have legitimately driven was his ’73 Ford Country Sedan. This year I’ll have been a licensed driver for 40 years…hard for me to imagine it was that long ago…I’m sure as with most people here, driving was a big deal to me when I first started out
Does sitting on my cousin Bert’s lap steering his 51 Dodge Coronet count? I was 4 at the time. Pretty heady stuff for a four-year-old car nut!
I notice that Glen.h also had his first drive on a Massey-Ferguson tractor. I working at a large ranch when I was around 14 and just pulling trailers and what not around the service yard. That lasted a month and I was then put on a Caterpillar D8 so that I could pull a land plane. In retrospect that D8 had a lot of what today’s macho guy looks for in a vehicle. It had a big bad ass diesel engine, a six speed manual transmission, the appearance of at least a 18 inch lift, some real road hugging weight and a sinister appearance.
I will admit that it was a tad tedious on “cruise night” but at least it would get you noticed.
The absolute first motorized vehicle I “drove” was a Penn Central EMU for about 100 feet in Croton Harmon station when I was 4 years old.
The first gasoline powered vehicles were go karts in summer camp and the first car was the family’s 1974 Volvo 164E.
The first vehicle I actually drove was a Ford 8N tractor, pulling a grain box from the owner’s very rural Minnesota farm down a dirt road to a neighbor’s where the cornfield was being harvested.
The first road vehicle would have had to be Pop’s 1950 Packard with Ultramatic.
A red 1972 Chevy Vega. It was my grandma’s car. I got it after she was no longer able to drive. Awful car, but I still have fond memories of all the things that happened while I had it.
If rolling a car down the driveway and accross the street backwards counts, a 55 Chrysler T&C. At 15, a 72 Buick Estate Wagon, my hot rod!!
12 or 13 years old, 1990 or 91 Chevy Corsica — demo car my dad from the Chevy dealer where he worked. Yeah, it wasn’t even our car. And it was mom who took me out.
2002 Buick Rendezvous…one of the first off the line. First time was in a parking lot in Torrington, CT.
In a snowstorm.
The exchange between Mother and Son went exactly like that in your situation 🙂
Car was a POS off the showroom floor, but i got my license in it!
Dad let me shift his 5 speed 1980 (iirc) Toyota Celica Supra when I was around 7 or so.
First time driving was when I was 11, in Mom’s boyfriend’s 1987 Escort Wagon with a 4 speed manual that he had just gotten from his parents when they switched to an automatic. He had his private pilot’s license, so he taught me to drive in the service drives of the local airport. After a week or two, we saw a cop pulling in to look around. We quickly switched spots and left without an issue, but I swore off underage driving for a few years (yeah, I was a “good kid”…).
A couple years later, Grandpa asked me to start his 1987 Buick Somerset 3.0 automatic to let it warm up for church. I told him I didn’t know how to start a car with an automatic transmission! Guess I never paid much attention to how it was done when I was a passenger, and mom and dad both had manual trans vehicles at the time.
Other Grandpa died when I was 14, and I spent the latter part of the summer driving his 1979 Chevy “Big 10” 350/350 around the fields picking up cucumbers that the harvester missed in between helping Dad and stepmom get the farm ready for an auction that September.
Mom passed down her 1987 Buick Somerset with the Iron Duke and 5 speed (How many families had two 1987 Somersets at the same time?) to me when I was 15. I promptly lost the only set of keys (fortunately, the dealership was able to cut a new one from GM records, they said the record would’ve been gone the following year) and backed over a small tree when turning it around in the driveway.
Driver’s Ed was me and another guy who’d also been driving for years goofing off and laughing at those who were obviously getting behind the wheel for the first time.
Do you remember when GM actually built a great sub-compact car? It was an Opel and it was built in Zaragoza (Spain). It was the Opel Corsa. My father bought the UGLIEST version of this car 22nd June 1983 with the UGLIEST colour (called “Canaveral Green”). I remember that date because it’s my brother’s birth year and almost my birthdate. I remember how my dad was thrilled because it was a 5-speed manual
Fast forward 5 years. There was a flat piece of cleared land near our house, where now there’s a park and a lot of buildings. So one day my dad calls me to clean the car and when we finish he says “Come on, I’ll teach you how to drive”. So he placed me at the wheel (I was 13, so big enough) taught me the tricks of stick shifting (we Europeans don’t need no autos) and off we went. Of course I didn’t know how to brake properly yet less how to shift down gears but I remember as one of the best days of my life because I was a petrolhead already.
Second time was very interesting as well, as an uncle two of my cousins was actually a driving instructor (he had this as a second job) and gave us a proper lesson with double peldals using a Renault 18 Diesel. That was great as well, but nothing as the fabulous Opel Corsa 1.2 TR of my father, which looked exactly like this one:
On a bitter cold January afternoon on a back road in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I was attempting to learn how to maneuver my father’s ’65 VW Bus in preparation for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s driver’s road test. Under powered but fairly easy to shift, the bus’s notoriously bad handling characteristics and my untrained hand came to bear when at the crest of a hill, where I hit a patch of glare ice which sent me into a series of fishtail swerves. I remember trying to control the swaying breadbox with that humongous steering wheel all to no avail, eventually rolling it over on the passenger side in a snowbank next a farmer’s field.
After the old man told me to “get your a** off of me” – I landed on top of him – we got out, righted the machine and after straightening the passenger side’s outrigger mirror, continued on with the lesson.
A humbling experience but one that has remained with me.
In 1957 I was 13. Mom had a ’57 Chevy and my dad had a ’54 or ’55 VW. Can’t remember the exact year, but it still had the flippers in the door posts for turn signals. I already had some experience with the VW driving it on the dirt roads of a nearby farm, but I had never been on the street.
One day the VW had a dead battery, and my dad asked if I would drive the VW while he towed it with the Chevy and we would “pull start” it. Brief instruction followed: “You put it in gear and hold the clutch in. I’ll get us going, and when you see me wave just let the clutch out. It’ll start right up.” We pushed the VW to the street, he found an old piece of manilla rope about 20′ long, tied the back bumper of the Chevy to the front bumper of the VW and we were ready.
OK. Check list: ignition on, choke on part way, in gear, clutch in. Dad eased the rope taut and we were rolling. When we got to about 15 mph or so I saw my dad wave so I popped the clutch on the bug. The only problem was that dad neglected to tell me what gear to have it in and I had it in 1st. The rear tires on the VW dragged for 10 or 15 feet before the tow rope parted like a kite string. A post-mortem of the incident revealed the Chevy was ok, but the bumper of the VW was pulled slightly out. We were lucky that the rope was as old and rotted as it was.
Oh, the VW started, and my first drive on the street was around the block to get home.
1972 Buick Estate Wagon. 455cid, Rochester quadrajet carb.
It belonged to my brother. He purchased it to haul around his electric bass, amps, and gear. Our Dad didn’t believe in pickups or vans, so my brother got the biggest boat he could find. I drove it around Lake Merced in San Francisco in 1980. I was 13.
Incidentally, when the Rochester carb got all gummed up, my brother allowed me to rebuild it—I was still 13. Up to that point, I had only dissassembled the carb for cleaning on our Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine, but I have always been fairly confident about my ability to get things back together. After spending a whole day on that carb, I bolted it back on, and gave the engine a crank. Once the fuel pump filled the bowl, it over flowed out the top vent hole—I left out a rather important o-ring on the float valve. The carb came off again the next day, o-ring installed, and all was well.
Q-jets are not exactly simple carbs, but don’t let them intimidate you. If I could rebuild one at 13, you might be able to as well.
If you count being a “laptop” driver, then my Dad’s 1962 Fairlane 500, but I really can’t remember when that was, maybe 1966 or 1967. It was before we got our 1967 VW Fastback, which I remember for other reasons.
I think I may have actually achieved a number of goals on a vehicle I did drive by myself, a neighbor’s 1976 Jeep CJ-7 with the 258 six + three speed man trans and nice set of Jackman wheels. Those wheels were the hot ticket back in the mid-70’s, everyone had them on their Jeeps and trucks back then.
A rather violent summer storm had blown through our area and several trees near our houses had lost their limbs (one of which landed on my first car-to-be, my brother’s 1969 Ford Torino GT). So many branches had fallen we were essentially trapped in our neighborhood.
My neighbor needed my assistance to help move the larger branches that had fallen with his Jeep. He would tie a tow strap around the large ones and I was to ease the limbs out of the way with the Jeep. Being that it was the first time I’d driven a manual (I was all of 13), it took me a while to get the feel for it, but eventually, I got it right. Once we got the really big branches blocking the streets out of the way, we went for a little ride around the area to survey the damage, and my neighbor let me drive him around! I felt like a king!
Yes, I still want a CJ-7 somewhere in my MM garage…
Like about 10% of commenters on this thread, my first time was on a farm, age 12. My father’s insurance firm held (or maybe wanted to hold) the policy on an apple orchard, and one fine summer Saturday we took the ’66 Wildcat about two hours outside of town so my dad and the farmer could talk turkey. Nobody knew it but my dad had only a few months to live, so this was one of the last trips we ever took together anyplace. While the men talked business inside, I wandered the premises. Some friendly farmhand there noticed my interest in the decommissioned, deplated 1956-or-so Buick that had been whittled down to an open-cab flatbed for chores around the property. It had an automatic, so I was allowed to drive it for a couple of minutes on the gravel pathways between the rows of apple trees. I manage to stay out of the ditches, and had more fun than I’d ever had on any rollercoaster or Tilt-a-Whirl at the fair.
My legal driving on the highways and byways of our lives arrived four years later, with my (now-widowed) mother teaching me to drive on her rather pretty copper/black ’67 Dart two-door h/t (no driving school for me!). It too was an automatic, but otherwise fairly bare-bones: /6; steering by Armstrong; braking by Legstrong; and windows by Fingerstrong. Got my license with it while I was still 16. That Dart was great for pulling donuts in the parking lot of my old gradeschool after hours… though of course only if there was a layer of snow or ice on the pavement 🙂
1974 Pontiac Grand Prix, faded red with most of the clearcoat and the vinyl top deteriorating, trunk rusting out and interior completely ravaged, wouldn’t have been embarrassed to drive a Malaise Era GM A-Special except that my dad had plastered the arse end with conservative gun-lover stickers and it went to the junkyard after about a month of me driving it, since Lane County ordered my folks to clean up their hoarded property in Santa Clara and the GP was unneeded.
1979 Ford Fairmont Futura (at least I think it was a ’79-this was back in my stoner days). Slower than a snail on Tylenol PM, but it did the trick. I still remember my older bro Mike saying “Ok, now you’ll want to give it some gas before going up this next hill because it doesn’t have much power.” Me; “Oh, ok”….wuh…wuuuuhhhhhhh”…. Mike; “Oh boy”.
I ended up buying this car-tho not before his wife backed it into a light pole-then later selling it for $10 and an ice scraper (after I stole the hubcaps for my ’84 Fox LTD.)