I remember my first car because……


It’s been a tough week and I’d been looking for endless mind numbing online distractions when I saw that my friend, Rolan DeLoach​, commented on a post I was prohibited from adding to because I wasn’t a friend of the original poster.  The topic was “What was your first car?”

Admittedly I know nothing about cars. I always looked for something safe (though affordable was more important in early years), reliable (see previous note) and able to cart around a few friends. Most of my early cars were nothing more than cheap. I did find the reliable vehicle later on and purchased five count em five Honda Accords and managed to get 300K miles out of each (well 297K and change on one). I only stopped my Honda affair when my lovely mother-in-law gave us a fabulous deal on her car because she worried about safety as my last Honda approached the 300K threshold. None was ever bought new. I believe in Accords and this posed a problem for me. During my Honda decades, I thought they had the worst possible advertising and I felt my fabulous track record as a customer was perhaps encouraging more of the same awful ads. I just want it known here that I bought the cars despite the advertising not because of it.

But back to the first cars, the ones I drove before I’d found the resources and rationale to go with Hondas. In the early years odd colors seemed to attach themselves to the most affordable vehicles. I did have my standards. There was one color that no matter how cheap the car, I would not buy – sea foam green. Still hate that color but once slid pretty close with a sage green car. But it was not, I repeat, not, sea foam.

Below are my first cars with photos found on the web based on distant and blurry memories. I didn’t care enough about cars to photograph my own.

Now about those colors…..

AMC Ambassador

Forest Green – AMC Ambassador 1969, Photo Source: http://www.metacars.com

1) Forest green AMC Ambassador that I used in my carpool commute to Tufts. Mom sold it to me for $1 and simultaneously that was the first day that I had a migraine. Too much excitement used to do me in.  The car’s claim to fame was  a vivid yellow bean bag chick perched on the dashboard. His name was Cluckles, and eventually he succumbed to the strength of the sun and just started eroding away leaving all those little beans scattered about the car. He’d had a tough life. My co-commuter, David Sheehan, of the brand new GM car each year Sheehans, tried to steal him every time I drove. Just envious I guess, he never had toys, food or tiny beans anywhere in his car. Each time we commuted, we’d arrive at the school for whoever had the earliest class which often meant ‘not me’ and so I’d sit in my car after everyone left listening to AM radio and frequently locking myself out in the Tufts commuter lot.  Tufts in Medford on the Somerville line was a big dark city outside the campus walls, at least as far as this suburban girl was concerned, but it did have certain advantages. If I locked myself out, I’d find a tough-ish looking local kid and ask him to break into my car for me. It had a certain name that breaking in technique, but I don’t remember it now. In any event, these kids always got me back in the car much more quickly than the security guard I tried once. They were always very helpful to the young co-ed in distress, and that’s probably what started my “bad boy”phase, I mean they had such useful skills.

AMC Gremlin Periwinkle blue 2013-10best-fashion-branded-cars-3-1973-levis-edition-amc-gremlin-photo-488324-s-original

Periwinkle Blue AMC Gremlin. Photo source: AMC Gremlin Periwinkle blue 2013-10best-fashion-branded-cars-3-1973-levis-edition-amc-gremlin-photo-488324-s-original

2) Periwinkle Blue AMC Gremlin that corroded through the floor board. I think I bought this in Medford from a classified ad. I liked the color, never had trouble finding my car in a parking lot, and I figured it was at least better looking than a Pacer. One day as everyone from my first ad agency, DF Sullivan Company, left for a meeting at the then called Sullivan Stadium (now Gillette Stadium in Patriot Place, Foxboro),  I, the receptionist, was asked to pick up the president of Sullivan Stadium (a relative of the agency). My car smelled bad because there was a hole in the floor board and dampness had set into the car so I spritzed my Chanel #5 as I drove and the top fell off and went through the floorboard. I’d frequently lost change through that hole, but the top off the cologne was a big loss as the bottle was nearly full.

Buick Skylark Orange

Orange Buick Skylark Photo source: Mecum Auctions 2012 Spring Classic Spotlight: 1970 Buick Skylark … http://www.victorymusclecars.com

3) The haunted Buick Skylark in orange that I kept longer than I should have because someone with car knowledge told me it would become a classic and the same vehicle would never be recreated. I attended my first car auction with a car knowledgeable friend of my father’s at the auction on Route One maybe Saugus or Danvers, MA. I think I paid a couple hundred bucks. Interesting experience but my tutor was a more decisive guy than I, and I would have probably preferred shopping longer, but that wasn’t to be. I swore the car was haunted because, very frighteningly and without warning the car would accelerate of its own accord. There was no discernible pattern. I never could get anyone to figure out why, but it had a pretty powerful engine that gave me some minimal coolness factor with guys that I didn’t understand, but basically the car scared me. I was only minimally distressed when that one gasped its last. It was totalled (hit and run) on the New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day cusp – the price of getting home earlier than the thugs and late night revelers in the neighborhood.

I’d like to know what the years were on these cars, and maybe could check my lifetime record with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but I am sure my record would just reiterate what I already know –  to this day I have never owned a brand new car (too practical for the insurance premiums) and I think I only bought one car in the same decade it was built.

What was your first car? What do you remember about it?

(c)2015 by Alison Colby-Campbell

2 responses to “I remember my first car because……

  1. Used Datsun (now Nissan) bought about 1975. Awful dingy mutard color with black interior. Drove ok but would stop for no reason when idling. Oh and it had prior damage to rear which was covered up pretty well with bondo. And it smelled bad too. Water leaking in somewhere. Always left a window cracked open to let the smell out. And the radiator kept overheating. But it did get me places and get me to buy AAA which I have had uninterrupted since. Actually saw a restored Datsun at a car show last summer. Why? 🙂 Fun post Alison.

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