Do You Still Love Your First Car?

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Photo: Andreas Solaro / AFP (Getty Images)

Your first car is a lot of things: A coming-of-age checkpoint, a first taste of true personal freedom, and a way for your parents to make you shuttle your younger siblings around for a change. For many people, a first car is something to reflect on with rose-colored glasses, to remember fondly for all the things it enabled them to do. What about yours?


When I was sixteen, I was in talks to buy a Volkswagen GTI in (what was in retrospect) an incredibly sketchy eBay deal. The previous owner “signed the title and moved to Germany,” but his “friend” was selling the “car” out of an industrial park. I learned to drive stick on that GTI, and my teenaged brain was able to look past the little details like “the title has multiple owners’ names on it and only one signature” to focus only on the sound of the turbocharger.

I was looking at a gray Mk5, just like this one

I was looking at a gray Mk5, just like this one
Photo: Volkswagen

Then I got a speeding ticket in my mom’s Lexus, and suddenly turbochargers were no longer allowed. My mom got herself a new car, and I got her GX470 as a hand-me-down. Note that this was long before the GX was for the cool kid off-roaders, back when it was just a mom car — comfortable, smooth, boring.

So I disliked it. Sure, it gave me the freedom to go out and do teenager things — going to the Buffalo Wild Wings near the high school for lunch, seeing friends on the weekends, loitering in the mall and bumping into every person I’d ever met — but I can’t say I was disappointed when my dad totaled it. Especially when the insurance paid for a Wrangler to replace it.

Apparently my phone camera in 2013 was stuck in Hurt Locker Mode

Apparently my phone camera in 2013 was stuck in Hurt Locker Mode
Photo: Steve DaSilva

But, with the wisdom of a few more years under my belt, I treated that Lexus too harshly. It was a truly good car, comfortable and capable in equal measure, that deserved better than my racing-up-the-on-ramp-time-attack escapades. It also deserved better than the Supernatural bumper sticker I subjected it to. For that, I apologize.


But what about your first car? Did you love it when you got it, or was it like mine — an appliance that enabled you do to the things you wanted to do? Years on, do you still love it, or have your views changed? Tell me your story, and I’ll compile my favorites later in the day.

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