Passing your driver’s test and getting your driver’s license is one of the most important milestones in life—and in most cases, it’s the first hurdle you jump on the road to adulthood. For me, and I imagine for most people, having my driver’s license provided me with my first real taste of freedom and independence.
I got my license around 1974, and my first car was a light blue Volkswagen “Squareback,” which they don’t make anymore. It had a sunroof, which was a pretty big deal back then, and it was the perfect accessory for the many trips my friends and I took to Folsom Lake outside of Sacramento, where I grew up.
Everyone remembers their first car. This week I asked the AARP Driver Safety team to tell me about their first cars. I received some fantastic stories, proving that not only does everyone remember their first car, but we all have a powerful story to share about how driving—and our first cars—impacted our journey to adulthood.
This is part one of a series in which I share the Driver Safety team’s first car experiences. I also encourage you to share your first car story with us!
“In 1994, when I was 15 years old, I bought a 1966 Ford Mustang. It needed some work, but I thought it would be a great project. The plan my dad and I had cooked up was to spend all summer fixing it up, to get it in shape by the time I turned 16. My first car was going to be an American classic. We brought it home and began to dream up all of the ways we could make it as good as new.
But we made one slight miscalculation: we hadn’t included my mom on this plan. What could she possibly say about getting a great car that we could work on together and, after all, was inexpensive?
It only took three words. She looked at the car, took a walk around it, sat in the driver’s seat, and asked, “Where’s the airbag?”
I could go on to tell you about the arguments that ensued, the diplomatic reasoning my dad considered and then abandoned, and the countless, “You’ve got to be kidding me’s” that I repeated. Standing in the garage that day, I learned that I was not going to be driving a 1966 Mustang on my 16th birthday.
My first car ended up being a 1991 Oldsmobile. It turned out to be a good first car, and of course I was excited to even have a car. When I sold it after graduating from college, I made sure to tell all of the prospective buyers about its “accident free” life and original air bag.” – Josh
“I got my driver’s license when I was 16 years and 1 month old. My parents had just purchased a 2001 silver Honda Civic for their “third car” (a.k.a. my car). Because I have a November birthday, I was the first of all my friends to get my license. Thus, I instantly became the most popular girl in my grade! Just kidding—but people did use me for rides all the time. It was so great to not have mom and dad driving me to school, field hockey practice, friends’ houses, and awkward high school dates. Driving allowed me to have an independent social life, without being dependent on my parents’ schedules.
Driving also represented a new level of maturity and growing up. Since I’m the oldest of four children, having a driver’s license meant I also became responsible for driving siblings around and helping out with family errands.
Now that I’m grown and living in the city, I don’t even own a car. I use public transportation to get everywhere, and find that I miss driving. I’m saving my money to purchase a car of my own. Any recommendations?” – Leah
“The year was 1980. It was official: I was now living an ‘adult’ life. I had graduated from high school, started college, got a job, and was officially engaged to my high school sweetheart. Now I was making the ultimate purchase for someone my age: a new car.
But I didn’t want just any car. I wanted a Ford Mustang! And not just any Mustang – the one I bought was a flashy, blue metallic color with a ‘T’ roof. Not only did it get me to work and school, but it was also the transportation we used for weekend getaways to Ocean City, visits to my friends at their colleges, and the car we traveled in to Florida for our honeymoon destination. I made so many memories in this car, and I’m glad cars can’t talk!” - Sharon
“My first car was a gray, 1986 Honda Civic. It was used, and handed down from my uncle in 1993.
It burned plenty of oil, and with every step on the gas, smoke clouds blew from the exhaust.
I loved it though—I spent all my money on its maintenance and sound system. Having my own car at 16 meant no more school bus for my brother and me. My own car gave me the independence and ability to start taking care of myself without having to rely on others.” – Kyle
Look for more stories soon in part 2 of this series. What was your first car? Tell us your first car story in the “Comments” section below! Post your “first car” photos to our Facebook page!
Photo thanks to kenjonbro.