Question of the Day: My First Car

20 08 2006

Tell us a little something about your first car. Do you have any photos you can share?
Submitted by tamara.

My first car was a (1978?) Dodge Aspen, and I never got to drive it. Not even once.

A couple of weeks before I turned 16, and would get my learner’s permit, my dad and I visited several used car dealers. He wanted to buy something practical and safe for me; I wanted something cool. He won, and—soon enough—the Aspen, which was square and bulky, was sitting in our driveway. I didn’t really care all that much that it wasn’t a cool car. What was actually cool was that I was going to be able to drive myself to school. The bus and hitching rides from friends and my sister—those things were getting old.

Anyway, I started to like the Aspen. It was white and had a medium blue interior. Dad and I cleaned it up so much that I still associate that car with the smell of leather cleaner. It had a tape deck, and I could easily imagine the New Wave music coming out of the speakers as I drove around town. I might not have had the coolest car in the neighborhood, but the Aspen and I were going to be good together.

Like I said, though, I never got to drive it. One day, Dad asked if he could drive the Aspen to work. I didn’t object, of course; the Aspen was just sitting in the driveway, making it difficult for Mom or Dad to get out of the garage. When he got home that night, Dad said he had something to tell me: A car, he said, had pulled out in front of him at an intersection, and the Aspen had been totaled. I didn’t believe him at all. He was always joking around, and this completely sounded like his kind of a joke.

It was no joke, and—when Dad persisted in this story for half an hour—it sank in. The Aspen wasn’t just hidden around the corner. It wasn’t coming back.

Fortunately, we had insurance. Soon enough, Dad and I were hitting the same used car dealers. This time, we settled on something legitimately cool—a 1979 Chevy Monza. The Monza had curves, and it was so low to the ground that I sort of had to throw myself into the driver’s seat. And when I actually got to drive it (novel concept, huh?), the Monza had oomph. I loved that car, and its tape deck, for the rest of high school and a little bit beyond.

But the Aspen was my first car. I’m sure you’ll understand why I don’t have any pictures of it. There just wasn’t time.

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