Our First Cars: Three Revs For High School Cars

Your first car is special. It’s your first time driving on the road alone; your first grownup date with your sweetheart; and really, your first true form of independence. It may not have been the newest or most luxurious, but your high school car represented something more than just a vehicle—it kindled the pioneer spirit that Model T drivers had when they were able to expand their world. Your first car allowed you to explore the long roads ahead of you.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

The Cars That Taught Us (Some) Responsibility

But let’s not get too sappy here. High school cars came with first speeding tickets, first flat tires, and first repair bills. It wasn’t until years later, though, that we could look back and truly appreciate our first rides. We learned how to drive on them, but more importantly, we learned responsibility from owning them. A new set of tires cost us a whole summer job’s pay. Not having washer fluid when we were stuck behind a muddy construction truck meant we started regularly checking the fluid reservoir. In hindsight, we probably all wish that we had treated our high school cars better, because they gave us more than we ever returned.

A member at our church had posted the car for sale, and I begged him to sell me the car, even though I didn’t have the money or a driver’s license.

So with junior and senior year starting this September for new drivers across the country, let’s leave our first cars with an overdue parting gift, and I’m sure many of you are in the same boat vehicle. Call it an ode to our first cars. Let’s share the best and the worst parts. To get the party started, a few of us at Advance have volunteered our high school car stories!

Ode to First Cars

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was a 1972 Plymouth SCAMP. I started saving for the car when I was 14, and bought the car shortly after getting my first real job right after I got my driver’s license at 16. A member at our church had posted the car for sale, and I begged him to sell me the car, even though I didn’t have the money or a driver’s license. He finally agreed and I gave him a token $50 deposit. It was a 2-door hardtop, Gloss Red with a 318hp eight-cylinder engine, with lots of rust and I still paid $900 for it. My friends nick-named it the ‘Red Rocket,’ but it was a rocket that I never knew how fast I was going in because I could never get the speedometer to work. Nevertheless, it served me well through my high school years and I didn’t get a single speeding ticket, although I got stopped four times. I just told the officer my speedometer cable broke, and they let me off with warnings.” -Greg M.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was a 1991 Chevy Corsica. I got it in the fall of 1995 when I was a junior. I could often be seen driving around with three hubcaps because they were plastic and fell off a lot. It didn’t run the greatest, only had an AM/FM radio, and there were NO automatic features. But that’s ok, its unreliability helped me get my very first cell phone in case I broke down on my way home from college.” – Lorie P.

“I got my first car, a 1980 Chevy Camaro, when I was 17 with a loan from my dad. My mom actually found the car in our small town newspaper. We bought it from a widow who was selling her late husband’s car. Her husband was the original owner and had only put 36,000 miles on it. I actually got to take the car for a short test drive down the street. When my dad and I got home after looking at the car I remember rationalizing the price to him. The Camaro was my daily driver for the next 13 years.” – Byron N.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was a 1988 Toyota Camry—a hand-me-down from my stepdad that had the automatic sliding seat belts that forced you into safety mode once you shut the door. Everything about this car was gray. Gray paint, gray upholstery, gray carpet. I named him Steely Dan and drove him back and forth from Virginia to Tennessee for college until he finally kicked the bucket my junior year.” – Sarah M.

“My first car I ever drove in high school was a 1986 CJ7 Jeep with a manual transmission. I was so excited and relentlessly begged my parents to buy it for me even though I had never driven a manual before. My parents didn’t think it was a good idea, but I insisted. After all, how hard is it to learn to drive a stick shift on an old Jeep? About a week after they bought me the Jeep, I was begging them to sell it. I quickly realized that I was too afraid to actually drive it on the road. I have been driving an automatic ever since.” – Whitney S.

Advance Auto Parts | Our First Cars

“My first car was one that I had no business driving as a teen in the Midwest: a green 1974 Alfa Romeo Spider. It was loud, occasionally started in winter with an oil pan electric heater, super fun in the spring and fall, sweaty in the summer. Some people never learn, like me, so now I have a blue ’74 Spider.” – Richard M.

“I had a white 1977 Malibu Classic that my dad gave me. I bought chrome hubcaps and had someone in town paint it red for me. Then I took it to the new car wash and the high pressure water peeled off huge strips of paint! I was near tears because I had saved all of the money from my summer job to get the car painted. I had to drive it around with big strips of white paint showing through for quite some time.” – Dave K.

“My first car was a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T, handed down to me from my father. It was a neat little car, all black with a five-speed manual transmission and a decent engine. I did my share of stupid stuff until I got older and wiser, like fishtailing wet turns using my e-brake, burning my clutch disc and tires by popping into first gear at 6,000 RPMs, and going 8,000 miles without an oil change on conventional (gulp…sorry, car!).” – Neil B.

Share Your High School Car Story

What was your first car? Were you parking a block from school so no one could see it or were you washing and waxing it every week? Share your stories and photos on our Facebook page or reply in the comments.


  1. Frank Derr says:

    My first car was a used 1970 Pontiac Catalina, 400 cubic inch engine with a 4 barrel Carb. I had her for one week when the Nylon timing gear stripped out. I learned mechanics on that car. Water pumps, Radiators, window motors, drive shafts, U joints, CV axles and more. Since that car I have never put my cars in the shops except for tires, alignment, or transmission work. It of course caused me to “have” to buy bunches of tools over the years.

  2. My first car was a 1971 bright yellow Vega. I drove my friends and family to school and drove instead of walking back and forth to work. “Harvey J Wallbanger” took me through my last 2 years of high school all the way to my last day of my junior year of college. That was all Harvey could do and he did it well! Bye Harv!

  3. James Fineron says:

    My first car was a 1962 Plymouth Savoy with a 318ci V8. Originally “Salmon”, 15 years in the desert sun faded it to pink. That’s right, a 16 year-old boy driving a pink car. I was aghast. That car was a TANK! I was hit by a VW Bug at one time, not a scratch on Me, the VW was one dead bug. A friend of Mine named it “Battlecar Galacticstar”, because it was a tank and kind of looked like a UFO. It had a “push-button” automatic transmission, AM radio only and drove Me and My fellow Civil Air Patrol Cadets at breakneck speeds for many miles. I ended up trading it for a 1972 Plymouth Duster, which I loved dearly but wasn’t quite the juggernaut as the ’62.

  4. P M Wilson says:

    My first car was a Kingswood 9-seater station wagon. Only paid $500 for it and it was ALL metal – even the dashboard. In fact, when I had a flat tire and the gas station guy came out to change it for me (yeah, they still did that back in the day!), he had to use a hydraulic jack to get the car up high enough to change the tire. Thing that amazes me is that I could parallel park that puppy! Couldn’t do it now.

  5. Joel Allen says:

    My first was my 69 Ford truck, and I still have it today (22 years later). My dad firat boight it in 1970, sold it a few years later, bought it back later, sold, bought, sold bought, then i got it and it will never go anywhere as long as i am around! Did a frame off restoration, and now have a show truck!

  6. Eric Burns says:

    my first car was a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix I had air shocks on the rear so the 50 size tires would fit it had crager ss rims 400 cubic inch engine, headers and cherry bomb mufflers no tail pipes which I burnt out so when you would rev it up it would fof abd shoot blue flames under the car

  7. Rosemary Davison says:

    I got my 1st car when I was just out of high school; it was a 1965 Buick Special.My fiancé bought it for me in 1975; t had only 32,000 miles on it.

  8. Kathleen OMalley says:

    My first car was a 1975 VW Bug. It was green with tan interior. I always wanted a bug from the time I was a child. At 10 yrs old my best friend gave me a small die cast bug which I still have. VW bugs and the bus were and still are favs. Right now I own a lime green bug, 2001 and I love that too!!

  9. JoHanns S. says:

    My first car was a 1999 Chevy Cavalier R/S. I bought it at a auction for $1,996.00. It had over 150,000 miles. I bought new tires for it. It was scratched up the dashboard was cracked in half. I saved up for 4months working at a Warehouse for Bell sports. I sold it when the transmission gave up and the metal plate broke in half. I would race it with other cars. And I used it to go to college. One day the transmission pin got stuck and the other nine would start. The car gave up its last breath. I sold it to a man $250.00.

  10. Jonathan Parker says:

    My first was a 81 toyota tercel. i was the ugliest shade of yellow with a 2/40 ac (2 windows down going 40mph!) max speed 65mph but the speedometer read 95. i was too scared to take it on the highway because it would overheat during 65mph the whole time. of course it overheated in traffic, too. many summers with the heat on to keep it from overheating. I own that car 6 years before upgrading to a ford escort with ac! Needless to say the girls were not flocking to me because of my car.

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