OT: Talking Cars Tuesday - your first drive

Submitted by JeepinBen on August 7th, 2018 at 10:17 AM

We've talked first cars a few times, how about the first time you were ever behind the wheel? Was it a parking lot? Fun story? Terrifying experience? Parental advice? Best friend tossing you the keys?






August 7th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

The year was about 2001? Maybe 2002. I was 13 and my older sister had just gotten her license. She had a hand-me-down 1991 Mazda 626 LX, with 4 angry squirrels under the hood and a 5 speed manual.

Being a great big sister, she asked if I wanted to try driving. Being a Need-For-Speed playing 13 year old (Hot Pursuit 2 on PS2 FTW!) I of course said sure. Our block was a very quiet circle, with no traffic. We headed as far as possible from the access street, and I started it up. Clutch take up was easy, first gear went well, no stall!!

Then I went to upshift from first to second, and didn't get the stick all the way into second gear when I started taking the clutch back out. The spinning of the synchro (commonly refered to as grinding gears) was the most awful sound I had ever heard. Enough for me to clutch, brake, and not try again for a while.

Blue in PA

August 7th, 2018 at 10:31 AM ^

'76 AMC Pacer when i was 15.... we drove it around the field and beat it to death.  It didn't make it until I got my licence.  '77 Chevy Monza for 6 months until i crashed it.... then a '78 Tbird.  That thing was the bomb!  Loved that car.



August 7th, 2018 at 10:33 AM ^

First time behind the wheel, I was 5 or 6 years old. My Dad thought it would be fun to let me steer while he did everything else ('66 Ford Galaxie 500, btw). We were in a sub-division that was under construction. I'm pretty sure it was a weekend because I recall no one being around. The steering wheel was so huge, I had a hard time getting the car to turn. I decided I didn't like it much and bailed out of his lap. I had to wait until driver's ed to be put in command of another land barge, a Chevy Caprice Classic. I learned to parallel park that monster.

Driving has always been an enjoyable experience, my first "drive" excepted. I still prefer a manual transmission although those seem to be fewer and farther between. I look forward to my Fall trips to Europe where we rent a car. I get to brush up on my clutch co-ordination once again. =)

Naked Bootlegger

August 7th, 2018 at 10:39 AM ^

I turned 16 and needed to be driven to basketball practice.  My dad looked at me, tossed me the keys to the Chevy S-10 pickup truck, and said "drive yourself".   The issue?  I had never driven a manual transmission before.   I figured it out quickly.   Best parental tactic ever.  My dad said afterwards that it was probably easier to learn by myself rather than having him looming over me and critiquing every little mistake.   

Also, I miss manual transmissions.

EDIT:  Hey, I get to use the edit function!   This was obviously not my first time behind the wheel That occurred when I was 12 or 13 and my dad let me drive country back roads.   I'm doing the same with my son this summer.


August 7th, 2018 at 11:05 AM ^

I’m pretty sure my first time was during drivers ed at high school.  We drove a huge Pontiac Parriessene (sp?) the size of an Abrams tank.  Parallel parking was an adventure.  While my first drive wasn’t that memorable, I do remember that one of the kids in the group had trouble with moderation while steering.  He would tug on the wheel like he was trying to turn a cruise ship.  So, it’s the day we get to try driving on the expressway, this kids behind the wheel, and the instructor tells him to change lanes.  I see his eyes dart and can tell from his shoulder pump that he was about to saw the wheel with all his might.  I was about to shit my pants when the instructor noticed the same thing.  She was a small woman, but she reached over and grabbed the wheel with a vise grip and saved us all from rollover hell.


August 7th, 2018 at 11:10 AM ^

First time I drove was sitting in the driver seat between the legs of my gorgeous babysitter. She let me drive her car like that on a back road. I barely remember the car being there. 


August 7th, 2018 at 11:12 AM ^

Not the very first time, but still with only the learner's permit. Was going just around the corner to the breakfast spot (Mark's Midtown Coney Island) with my older brother. It had snowed a considerable amount the previous night and it was my first time driving in the elements.

I went to turn left onto State street from a stop and totally spun out. I think we made two full rotations. Luckily, nobody else was on the road. But, needless to say, my brother drove home.


August 7th, 2018 at 11:30 AM ^

I took my parents 1985 Caprice classic for a joy ride when I was 15. That was the firsr time I had ever driven a car by myself. 

When I was 8 my dad let me steer the car in a parking lot on his lap. 




August 7th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

First time I drove was in the parking lot of a mall that's no longer there. My dad took me out and let me drive around for a while.

On a side note, thinking about that mall and the memories I have of going there as a kid,o it's both crazy and sad how the Midwest has changed, even in the last 20 years or so. People call it the Rust Belt derisively, but the name fits; outside of a few enclaves like Ann Arbor, it feels like the places where I grew up are just rusting away. Most of the places associated with my childhood memories are gone, and very few have been replaced with something else; the majority are just empty shells.

I get that's how nostalgia works, and I get that in many ways societal dynamics have changed for the better, but when I look at the places of my childhood, and how it's hard to see a future for most of them (and they're not unique), I do in some ways think that at least from a physical standpoint, society seems to be changing for the worse.

Shop Smart Sho…

August 7th, 2018 at 11:42 AM ^

I was 3 or 4 years old. Mom left me in the front seat of the Chrysler K Wagon with the motor running because she had to run in and grab her coffee. I slid over to her seat and bumped it down into reverse. Made it about 200 yards across our yard, the neighbor's yard, over a couple of saplings, and into a corn field. Mom held onto the door handle for about 180 yards.

I learned to steer and shift sitting on my dad's lap in a mid-80's Dodge Dakota. Learned car control and how fast "too fast" was in my first car, an '89 Firebird. Learned how to do burnouts with an automatic in a '90 454 SS.


August 7th, 2018 at 11:58 AM ^

Do not think it was the first but my mom would take me to Gallup Park to pilot her 1971 Toronado land barge with a 455ci engine. Doubt I broke 15 mph.

The better story was that my brother would take me to Radrick Farms golf course where he worked. When they were closed I got to drive golf carts for what seemed like hours. Learned all about donuts, power slides and other techniques I have seldom used while driving real cars.


August 7th, 2018 at 12:09 PM ^

My Mom's 84 minivan. We were loading something up and I was allowed to drive from the back yard to the front. I think I was 12. I horrified my cousin by using my left foot on the brake LOL. 

I remember when we got that Minivan. It seemed so huge. Like the ultimate trip vehicle. 


August 7th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

The old man I was working for had me driving his tractors around the farm.  Older 4 clylinder Farmall Super M, and Allis-Chalmers D17 tractors with the bicycle front tire.  I was 12 or 13.  This was the mid 90's. 

Anyway, he needed me to move some hay wagons one day.  That particular day(still 12 or 13 years old), he told me to go get the old green Chevy pick up.  I cannot recall the exact model year. If memory serves, it was a mid 70's K20 model with the old 3 on the tree transmission.  I was not very tall when I was that age, as I could barely reach the clutch on the tractors to shift gears.  I usually drove the tractors standing up so I could.  I remember having to drive holding myself up on the steering wheel so I could reach the clutch and throttle in the pick up(throttle was never a problem on the farm equip as it was a lever I could reach with my hand).  I made it back over to hook the hay wagons up, red faced and stressing out. The old man was standing there with a grin on his face like he always did when he had me do something new.  

He tells me to get out, and says, son you need to learn to work smarter not harder(at least the 100th time I'd heard that from him and would hear it at least another 1,000 times over the next 5-6 years I'd spend working with him.  He reaches down under the bench seat and pulls the lever and moves the seed forward about a foot and turns around laughing.  Other than that, I had no issues and pulled those 2 hay wagons the 1.5 miles back the barns where he stored his hay.


August 7th, 2018 at 12:36 PM ^

Back in the late 70s, must've been 8 or 9 at the time, one of my older brothers thought he'd be the cool one and let me get behind the wheel of his Pinto.  Told me to put my foot on the gas and turn the key.  Well, the foot went on the gas - all the way to the floor.  When that 90 hp behemoth erupted at full song (he never said to take my foot off the gas, so....) I nearly dropped a load.  I remember him frantically reaching over to turn the ignition off and well, end of ride.  Lucky that zippo didn't burn down then and there.


August 7th, 2018 at 1:03 PM ^

I was 14, learning on a stick shift cherry red Toyota Celica in my church parking lot. Nothing life changing, was very nervous though, but I had fun.


August 7th, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

Sitting on my Dad's lap steering his CJ5 when I was 5 or 6 was a lot of fun.  We've now done this with my kids in his old jeep (now in a parking lot, not on the road. 80s were a different time). 

I let my kids steer when we go apple picking and are driving on a farm.  Hoping they have great memories. 


August 7th, 2018 at 1:25 PM ^

My dad used to let me steer from his lap when I was quite young (maybe 8 or 9?), in both his 68 Mustang and my mom's 82 Camaro. But the first time I actually drove it was an 80s beater mini truck (I think it was a toyota). I was probably 11. It was my mom's cousin's truck that my mom had borrowed. I drove it on a very bumpy dirt road in first gear only. Later that day, just before we left, I got in the driver's seat and studied the shift pattern printed on the shifter. My mom gets in and I slowly take off. Took a minute to build up the courage but then I shifted into second and my mom was totally shocked I had any idea about shifting.

Cereal Killer

August 7th, 2018 at 2:19 PM ^

AMC Gremlin.  1979.  I was 14 years old.  My 18 year old buddy had been working multiple double shifts at Kroger and was sure he would fall asleep at the wheel and kill us both.  So he taught me to drive stick in a church parking lot in Springfield, MO, crashed in the back seat, and I drove us to Terre Haute, and he woke up and took us the rest of the way.


August 7th, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

Early 1960s when I was 3 or 4, my dad was taking my sister and me to the store, forgot something, pulled back into the driveway and left the car running.  I hopped into the front seat and started playing with the steering wheel and gear shifter (could not reach pedals and had no idea about them anyway).  I'm pretty sure I just got the car into neutral, but that was enough for the car to roll backwards down the driveway, across the street, over the curb, and into a tree.  I hopped back into the back seat, and when my dad came out, blamed my sister (who was 1 or 2 at the time).  

I remember being scared about my punishment and couldn't understand at the time why I didn't get a beating with the belt, which was the usual punishment for serious transgressions.  I remember my dad saying it would cost $50 to fix the bumper.  Of course as I got older, I realized he didn't punish me because he knew he was the primary one at fault for leaving the car running.


August 7th, 2018 at 2:54 PM ^

Lessee, my dad let me drive around the block when I was 14, a few months before I started drivers' ed.  He doesn't let me forget that I hopped the curb when I parked it again.

Otherwise, my first time behind the wheel was in one of the shitty (even at the time) Chevy Corsicas they had at the range at driving school.  They gave us a 10 mph speed limit and nobody even came close to it because nobody had the gumption to actually try the gas pedal.  I think we were all nervous that the car would leap forward and be magnetically attracted to the nearest light post.


August 7th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

My first was a joy ride in my dad's 79 Dodge Aspen station wagon when I was 15.  It had been parked for a few months and my parents were gone for the weekend.  

It had a 5 speed and somehow I didn't stall it or grind the gears.  I remember a nosy neighbor eyeballing me and I thought I was busted.  She never told, but I was scared enough to only go around the block instead of going to a buddy's.  

Ah the good old days...



August 7th, 2018 at 4:34 PM ^

Glad you asked. It was the summer between 8th and 9th grade, and I was 13. My best friend and I were just one notch above juvenile delinquents. We decided to take out my parents' car for a spin. It was a giant burgundy Caprice Classic and we had to put a phone book on the driver's seat so we could see over the wheel. My parents weren't out of town; they were just over at someone's house for the afternoon (stupid move #1). I volunteered to drive first, and my job was to back it out of the garage. I had never driven before, and it took me a good 15 minutes to get it out onto the street. At that point, I gave up and my best friend took over. She was very confident. 

Things were going fine until we pulled up to a red light at a six way intersection. She glanced in the rear view mirror and realized her parents' best friends were right behind us. She yelled, "Oh, shit, it's the Haddon's!!", ducked, and gunned it through the red light (stupid move #2). I realized how much trouble we could now be in, so I yelled at her to turn around, we needed to go home.

She ended up turning down a side street, and for some reason, forgot how to drive. She side-swiped a judge's Cadillac (Judge Pasquantonio, to be exact. We lived in a small town and knew pretty much everyone, which is what made this stupid move #3). By that time, I was terrified. I don't know what she hit, but the car started to smoke from the hood. We somehow managed to make it home, but my neighbors saw us pull into the garage and I never got asked to babysit again. Our saving grace was that my stepfather worked in New York City, and assumed the scratch on the side of the car happened in the lot he parked in. I never got caught. But now I know the degree to which kids will hide things from their parents.