get to know you – mth – dec 2010


Readers have responded to our Monthly Question, “What was the first car you owned?” with a rush of car-stories. Thanks to reader, Linda Rosenthal (Nov.’10) who suggested the query. Her story appears below.

My first car was a 1972 Datsun 1200, orange in color, got super gas mileage and I was proud of it for the short time that I owned it. The little car was purchased through my very first installment loan obligation. Of course, being a Datsun (the brand pre-cursor to Nissan), it was not a U.S. made car, and at the time, made life a little complicated.

There was only one mechanic in my area who would do major repairs for it. In the mid 1970s, at least where I lived, if you wanted parts for foreign-made cars, you came to expect a wait, often of weeks, for the parts to get mailed from the country of origin. Most mechanics in my hometown area didn’t even have the metric tools to try to work on my car.

I stayed blissfully ignorant of that somewhat radical status of owning a “foreign” vehicle in Michigan, birthplace of the American automobile industry. The car was small, cute, and although it lacked for horsepower, I loved it. Since I bought it, over time, with my own wages, I had great pride in it.

Sadly, at the time, I was also on the verge of alcohol and drug abuse, and the little Datsun became a party car for all of the “friends” that I had who were without transportation. On one memorable occasion, I allowed one of the “friends”, who was intoxicated, to drive the car. He drove it off an icy country road into a very deep ditch. The car was so lightweight that three of us simply shoved, pushed, and practically carried it back out to the road.

I was so co-dependent in those days that whenever anyone took or broke a “toy” of mine like the car, it was as though it never happened. Desperate for love, I accepted the abuse of my hard-earned privileges.

Alas, it took many years to understand that I needed to be more careful in choosing friends. I have increased my awareness, every day, of just how my life could break off in small pieces, paralleling the experiences of my various cars.

That first car lasted for only 70,000 miles. The body and frame separated, creating an unsafe driving condition. I have no photographs of it, but I have seen its like on the Internet. It brings back good and bad memories, and from both, I work to draw strength.


Patricia  (Oct.’10) tells us about her automobile. My first car was a 1950 Ford. It was the first car I purchased after I landed my first job out of high school (1956). It cost me an astounding $400. It was black and had fender skirts. At the time loud mufflers were all the rage.

I put some “Douglas” on my Ford. They were really loud.

It didn’t take long for the complaints to start. So a law was passed that loud mufflers were a no-no. The police caught up with me, escorted me to a filling station and had the guy there put “silencers” on them. I then had to take my car in for new quieter mufflers.

I look at those cars now and laugh. They are ugly. Of course the Cooper Mini I have now is not a beauty, but I love it. I have had many cars since my 1950 Ford, but my Mini will probably be the last. I like everything about that car.


Louise (Nov.’10) writes about her auto.“ The first car I bought all by myself was a Datsun F10, light blue with a hatchback. I loved it. It cost about $3600.00 The year was in 1977. I had just separated from my husband and needed a car with good mileage to get back and forth to school. Later, in 1982 I bought a Honda and gave the Datsun to my daughter. She was heading off to Dallas, Texas to live with her best friend from high school. We drove in the Datsun together from Rochester, New York to Cleveland where we stayed with a friend of mine. All by herself, the next day she tearfully drove off to Dallas in the Datsun.

After spending several days with my friend in Ohio, I flew home to Rochester. Thankfully, my daughter gave up on Texas and came back home.


Elaine (Sept. ’10) relates her car experience. “I’m sixty-six years old and almost own my first car. When I was growing up, my dad was interested in cars and we always had an extra. It was unthinkable that a daughter would own a car. That subject wasn’t on the table for discussion.

Living in New York as a young adult, I didn’t need a car. Later, I married and my husband bought a used car for me. The car’s title was in my husband’s name and I never gave that a second thought.

Over the years as we purchased cars, all of the cars were in my husband’s name. Eventually I was curious why the cars were titled to him, but I dismissed it thinking it was just something men do or maybe it had something to do with insurance. (Now I see how passive I was.)

After we moved to Florida, my husband totaled his car. He had become increasingly dependent upon me and that time I picked out the new car and handled the negotiations. I put the car in both our names.

Now he has passed. I have learned that as long as my name is on the title, I don’t need to change anything. When I sell the car I’ll need to present the death certificate. I still don’t exactly feel I own the car I drive and I imagine the day I’ll get my first car. Tally Ho!


We did not have space to share all the stories that came in, so there’s still time to tell us about your auto. For January 2011, we will continue with, “What was the first car you owned?”

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