Motoring editors recall their first cars



Nineteen is an exciting age for a young adult. It certainly was for me, being in the last year of high school with the prospect of moving to the "big city" from my remote northern Ontario home for college looming. I was feeling adventurous; even somewhat grown-up. And after using my parents' car for the last four years, I needed my own. My dad's 1951 Ford pickup I had been working on wasn't anywhere near being road worthy. And unlike my neighbour's parents, who bought her a used Chevette, mine did not, a fact I had been more than a little jealous about.

Then, serendipity: a classmate was selling her 1982 Toyota Corolla, already 10 years old with ridges of rust forming on its dull brown body. We made a deal for a paltry CAN$200 (Dh711), and that's when things went weird.

She took it home for one more night, but on the way a tie rod in the steering fell off and she went in the ditch. She didn't want to sell it to me because she thought it was dangerous, and I actually talked her into selling it for $100 instead.

So, with a $25 replacement tie rod, a Fiberglass-and-Bondo body job, a new radiator, used tyres bartered from a shop and a new coat of shiny red paint from a car painter friend, I had my first car on the road. Mechanically, it was sound; asthetically, it looked alright; but overall, I loved it for what it gave me: a freedom I had never felt before.

Perhaps more importantly, it taught me a lesson: my dad helped with every step of getting it on the road, spending time with me at night in the family garage and teaching me tricks along the way. And that was something far more valuable than paying the price for any car.

* Neil Vorano

After failing two driving tests for speeding and one after yelling at the testing officer, I was lucky I was allowed behind the wheel of my first car.

It was a 1987 Ford Laser hatchback, the model known to Australians as "the bubble" because of its curvy shape. Like a girl, I named the car. Leopold the Lemon Laser was born. "Lemon" referred to the colour rather than the performance. My parents helped me buy it, so it was a better-than-average first car.

I relished the freedom of not relying on my parents for rides, especially as we lived 10km out of town. After driving out of the Bathurst Roads & Traffic Authority with my provisional licence (and a red "P" plate to display on my car for the ensuing 12 months), I took Leopold on a lap of Mount Panorama.

"The Mount" is a public road-cum-racetrack built around a hill at the top of Bathurst's main street, home to Australia's most famous V8 race (which is taking place tomorrow), hillclimb events and it used to host an Easter motorcycle race until the crowd violence got too much for the local constabulary.

My time in the Laser was pretty uneventful until winter 1995. The sun got in my eyes at a give-way sign and I didn't see a beige car speeding downhill. The front of the car was ripped off and radiator coolant pooled on the road like green blood. I wasn't meant to be driving that weekend as I'd hurt my back but I wanted to go to the library. That'll teach me to be diligent.

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