WOWZA! Talk about a successful contest! First, I’d like to give props to everyone who entered! We received over 50 stories boasting about their first cars. So many common themes of oil leakage, creative ways you guys kept those beauties running and, of course, all of you who had stick shifts… but didn’t know how to drive them! I was totally rocking a perma-grin while reading these stories – so thank you again for submitting these stories! It’s obvious how much ALL of you LOVED your first cars!
To narrow it down to just 3 finalists seemed like an impossible task! I have to give a special thanks to our team of Linn Area judges for conquering this big job: Amy, Kathy, Liz, Bobbie and Matt. We first narrowed it down to 13 stories… then 8… then 4… and, FINALLY, the top 3 finalists!
How To Vote
Before I announce the top 3 finalists, here’s how YOU can vote! Just go to the comment section at the end of this blog post and let us know who you think had the best story and why! Only one vote per person, please. (Play fair, kids!) Votes on Facebook will not be counted, but feel free to comment away on our Facebook page (click here) to encourage others to come to the blog and vote! Voting ends on Sunday, August 14th at midnight. The winner receives a $200 gift card. Runner-ups receive $50 and $25 gift cards, respectively.
So without any further ado… Here’s the top 3 finalists, in no particular order!!!
Ahhh….my first ride. Just the thought of it brings back smiles and good memories. An image in my head of a rusted out, faded cream colored, 1968 Volkswagen Beetle. A hand-me-down lovingly passed from my dad who owned it in its prime new state, to my older brother, and eventually to me.
By the time “Besse” as I referred to her made it to me in the late 80’s, she had seen better days. Her crème exterior was marked with giant rust patches, dent upon dent, her headlights creatively held onto the car by bolts and brackets, her clutch held up with a small chain to prevent it from falling forward to the floor, my seat raised to accommodate my 5′ tall frame by old couch pillows and yes…a phone book. Backseat passengers had to be careful not to lift up the floor mats unless they wanted a clear view of the concrete passing by. I loved Besse. She was a conversation piece and she was my teenage freedom. For the most part she was tried and true. Riding in the summer with the roof cranked open listening only to the AM stations that barely crackled in on the original “stereo”. Even in the winter she hung in there when her gears would get stuck in first making my drives to school slow and cold. The familiar sound of her engine and exhaust still rings clear. Safe she was not… but oh so much fun!
Besse was finally put to rest after one sad day in particular. We had known that the end was near. Tooling around town, I had pulled into a store parking lot in Marion when a concerned passerby pulled up beside me. “Hey, do you know your car has flames shooting out from underneath it?” This…was not a good sign. Besse had begun leaking exceptional amounts of oil in her last days creating both hazard and mess. The end had come. Soon Besse was gone, sold for a mere $50 likely for scrap metal. She was later replaced by “Wendy the Wagon” complete with fake wood paneling. Wendy, though I loved her too, never quite lived up to the bar set by Besse.
The “slug bug” game has now been passed on to my daughter who is often the victorious winner. And that sound…I can recognize it from a mile away! Some day, some day, there may be yet another Besse in our driveway!
I bought it in anticipation of securing my drivers license back in 1975. It cost me 2 years worth of savings doing a variety of jobs like delivering newspapers, kid sitting, and mowing lawns. How much you ask? $300.00 cash, which was a small fortune to me! I have always liked MG’s and this car looked like a “mini” Rolls Royce, it was also Red (cause you know color makes the car go faster) and very fun to drive.When driving it home for the first time I knew we were going to have a bittersweet relationship when the brakes locked up in the middle of a busy intersection! Since it was a private sale, it did not have a warranty and the sale was final, I couldn’t return it.
Once the brake issue was resolved, I was able to drive it to work and school for about a year before it sprung a huge oil leak from a bad transmission gasket. Since it was an import… parts were hard to get in Iowa and because the engine and transmission shared the same oil, it took a lot to fill it back up again. My solution was to carry a plastic ice cream bucket to slide under the leak when not in use and then pour it back into the car to continue driving it. I eventually made my own gasket out of a Capt. Crunch cereal box (Thank You, Quaker Oats) and was able to get another year out of the car before the clutch gave out. The car was front wheel drive and beyond my ability to fix at the time so we parted ways, it went to the junkyard and I turned my sights on a 53’ Ford which I drove through my college years.
I often think about my little MG and the thrill of driving for the first time…and some days when I wish I had kept it. I still have one of its hubcaps in my office.
I now enjoy a Chrysler Sebring convertible, “Red” in color, which I purchased with the help of Linn Area a few years ago. As soon as the temperature reaches 55 degrees in the spring, the top is back and wind is blowing through my hair!!
In 1979, I turned sixteen and bought a green ’69 Ford XL from my older sister for $400.00. I couldn’t pay her in full until I had received two paychecks from my first job as a car washer for Hertz Rent-A-Car where she also worked behind the front counter.
It had a 390 V8 and I installed dual pipes with glass-pack mufflers. The front seats were ripped, so I fashioned seat covers out of cream-colored carpet. It only had an AM radio, so I wired a cheap cassette player and mounted it on the floor. I covered the rear dash with white fur carpet and set speakers on top because they didn’t fit in the factory holes. It had retractable headlight covers and I put orange fog lamps inside the grill. It had a long thin dent on the rear left quarter panel and looked like something from a Stephen King novel. My high school girlfriend even nicknamed it Lucifer.
I remember driving back and forth to Central College. There was a stretch of road just outside of Pella that ran straight for a couple of miles. Every time I hit this section of the road, I’d bury the speedometer past 120 mph. I have no idea how fast I went, but it felt like I was taking off in a plane as telephone poles and corn stalks whizzed by. On one trip, a floormate from Chicago drove back with me. We reached this stretch of road and I instinctually hit the gas. At the end of our “flight,” I looked over at my friend… His face was ashen and eyes were wide open in horror. He had buckled his waist seatbelt (No shoulder harnesses back then.) and was hanging on to the tightening strap with white knuckles. I fought with all my might not to laugh… He never rode with me again.
Given its nickname, Lucifer had to have had some quirks. I can remember many cold winter mornings, standing in the street, using a blow comb on an extension cord to thaw the door so that it would open… only to have the car not start. Due to the number of times I called AAA for assistance, they took me off my father’s policy.
My dashboard lights were a huge embarrassment. About every three weeks or so, they would stop working. I would have to flash my brights so that the indicator light would come on and I could see how fast I was going. (I’m sure this irritated many drivers.) After a few trips to install new fuses, my mechanic came to a conclusion… I didn’t know my headlight switch was also a dimmer switch for my dashboard lights. When I turned my headlights on/off, I sometimes dimmed my dashboard lights off. When he replaced the fuses, he simply turned the dashboard lights to full intensity. We had a good laugh when he informed me of this feature.
I drove that car till my senior year of college…
Get your vote on!
Okay, peeps! Time to get voting! Remember, you have to vote in the comments below on the blog. Again, Facebook votes and “likes” will not be counted. Email me if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Voting ends Sunday, August 14th. The winner gets a $200 gift card, 2nd place receives a $50 gift card and a $25 gift card will go to the third place entry.