Unlike the rich friends I had in high school, I was not afforded a brand spanking new BMW upon receiving my license in 1980. No, I had to purchase my very first car on my own. It wasn't easy to save money on my four dollar an hour salary I got for slicing lunch meats at my uncle's deli, but I scrimped and saved and cut down on my drug and alcohol expenditures and soon had enough to get myself a decent used car. Yea, I had these visions of getting a used nice car, like a Chevelle or Mustang or even a souped up Nova like my neighbor had, but my dreams were crushed when I realized exactly what kind of car $800 would get you in 1980.
I became the proud owner of a 1973 Oldsmobile Omega. Maybe it wasn't sporty or fast or sexy or brand new, but let me tell you, that car was one solid piece of machinery. When I was behind the wheel of that thing, I felt invincible, like I was driving a tank.
Soon after I got the car, my younger sister started learning how to drive. She begged me daily to take her driving, but I kept blowing her off with the excuse that with her permit, she was only supposed to drive with someone over 21. Yea, like the law every stopped me from doing anything before. I just didn't want her driving my car.
One day I picked her up from school and decided to let her drive home, just to get her to stop asking. Oh, you see where this is going, don't you?
She pulled out of the parking lot, made the left at the light, did all the right things like turning on her directional and checking her side view mirror. It was going good. I relaxed a bit. She accelerated as we hit the main road and got it up to 50 before I reminded her that the speed limit was 40. But she wasn't paying attention to me. She was waving out the window to get the attention of her friend who was standing on the corner waiting to cross the street. A traffic light was approaching. That light was red. Not just turning red, not briefly red, but red as if it had been yelling "Stop, you moron!" at us for the past ten feet.
By the time I actually got the words "Step on the fucking brake!" out of my mouth it was too late. I saw the car coming at us on my side. She was barelling through the interesection at a good clip and, well, she had the green light . I'm sure she wasn't expecting to see a car zooming in front of her. I braced myself for impact. The sounds of the Clash's Brand New Cadillac coming from my cassette player gave way to the sound of metal upon metal and screeching brakes. She slammed us broadside, so hard that her license plate became embedded in my back passenger door. The Omega spun and turned and ended up on the median, a "No U Turn" sign inches from my face in front of the windshield.
When the car stopped moving, I took stock of the situation. I was alive. My sister was alive. In fact, we were both kind of sitting where we had been at moment of impact even though neither of us were wearing seat belts. The engine was hissing, the woman who had hit us was screaming something, and Brand New Cadillac was still playing. I heard voices outside the car "Holy shit, did you see how hard they got hit? They have to be dead?" "I'm afraid to look in there!" "Dude, that was sick!" There were people milling around the car. Finally, someone poked his head in the driver's window and was surprised to find two young girls, very much alive and not the least bit hurt.
I turned to my sister, trying to be a bit compassionate since she was probably very shaken up. I resolved to save my abject anger at her until later.
"Are you ok?"
"I broke my fucking nail!"
That's when I started punching her.
So the car was pretty much wrecked and we escaped unscathed. That is quite the testament to the strength and tank-like qualities of the 1973 Oldsmobile Omega. You want a car like that today, you'll have to buy yourself one of those monster SUVs that take up six parking spaces.
Another first car story, from my friend "the turtle" :
This was my first car. Stupid. Simple. Cheap. Fast. Like I was then. When you grow up in the 80's you have to get over the fact that you won't get a 70's muscle car. That was the past; something that would always be there, but always out of reach. So I bought one of these.
89 Honda CRX. That color. Blood red. That thing pretty much changed the way I felt about pocket rockets. It had the power and the speed of anything I had ever driven. Well, maybe not the power but it definitely had the speed.
I was bored one day and saw someone with a plastic Jesus on their dashboard. Dude was just smiling and thinking the was God’s gift to world and his smile and my lack of attention made me want something.
I was next to a church supply store. I had no idea what they were supplying. Maybe faith? Anyways, I bought a manger scene. All those little characters. I stopped at a linen store and bought drapery beads. I went home, took this great mess and created the manger scene on my dashboard with some superglue and creativity. I glued "dingle balls" around the interior of the car and dropped that car even lower then a CRX should go.
One night I was heading to the moutains and was stopped by Cal Trans. No going through the mountains without chains. Well, fuck. Those are 20 bucks! So i bought a can of white spray paint and painted strips on the tires and i was never stopped again.
There was only one night when those tires brought me any trouble. We came upon a DUI check point in the middle of a main street. I had a friend in the passenger seat and a girl rolling around in the back seat drinking her father's moonshine out of a jelly jar that was crawling with dead ants. Apparently, ants really like moonshine. I saw the lights at the checkpoint, tossed some beer cans and went thru real slow. The cops asked why I had snow chains on the car. I put on a fake Canadian and said "II gues itdoesn't get as cold here as the say on the tv!" He waved us through.
Looking back that was a prety stupid thing to do. But thats what you do with your first car. Stupid things for shits and giggles.
He's right, you know. I could tell you some stories about what went on in my Omega that would make your hair turn white. But I'll just say instead that the power of being behind the wheel of your first automobile when you are young and incredibly stupid is more intoxicating than a 40 oz of Miller Lite and a nickel bag.