First car, first love

A drive on memory lane

By Jim Bucher


What is it about a first car? For some it was our first true love.

It was a time of freedom. Freedom from your parents lugging you around everywhere. The first time you could really feel independence.

Mine was the parents’ two-door 1970 Ford Galaxie 500. Tan in color, complete with an AM radio.

Open the hood and there was the engine—no pollution units or cluttered computer components. More on that later.

Now, not to sound sexist, but is this a “dude thing?” Turns out “dudettes” have a fond affection for their very first ride, too.

Including my editor here at the paper, Amanda. She shared her family car until necessity called for her to go solo with her very own, but she says, “I do have fond memories of my best friend’s first car, a garish green Ford Fiesta. The car didn’t matter; the freedom mattered. Even if that freedom simply meant driving to the grocery late at night to buy too much ice cream.” A woman after my own heart.

Others memories, collected from over 185 comments on my Facebook post, include Brenda, whose first car was a ’69 Buick Electra 225 Convertible. “Loved driving myself and the other cheerleaders around in that big ’ole car,” she says. “Awwwww memories.”

Like McDonald’s, I’m lovin’ this column.

Susan’s was a 1974 Gran Torino Elite. “Paid a former neighbor $1,000,” she says. “Think I bought it in 1979, it got me through my senior year of high school, 5 years in college, and about a year back home. Finally, with the battery held in by cables, and a hole in the back-passenger floor which revealed the road, actually sold it for $300.”

Pendra writes, “It was a 1969 fire engine red mustang with black vinyl top, bucket seats, center console shifter, FAKE HOOD SCOOP and small engine. I was too cool for school and always parked next to a guy with [the] same model mustang WITHOUT a hood scoop but big motor! He hated it!”

Pardon me here, but a cool chick with a hot car is AWESOME!

Connie was channeling a future Danica Patrick. “My first was a 1972 Chevy Malibu SS big block,” she says. “I did 113mph in it when I was 18. Crazy. But, I never wrecked it or got a ticket in it, despite the lead foot.”

Connie, I’m sure the statute of limitations is long gone.

“Mine was a 1975 Ford Mustang, white with navy trim, roof and interior,” says Karen Dempsey Volke from Dayton’s Ronald McDonald House. “Just like Jaclyn Smith’s on Charlie’s Angels!”

How appropriate, as one of the angels on earth caring for families at the House.

OK, now, it’s the dudes’ turn.

My long-time photographer buddy at Channel 2—who, by the way, is way older than me—says, “My first was a ’41 Chevrolet which I got in the sixth grade. Drove it around the family farm for years, fixed all the rust and painted it black, car was a tank.”

(One of those with more metal in the rear bumper than an entire 2017 model.)

Michael Roediger, executive director of the Dayton Art Institute tells me, “Mine was a 1976 Grand Prix, burgundy with T-tops. It was a sweet ride!” Hey, my friend, how about a “First Ride” photo exhibit at the DAI, maybe during “First Friday”? You can have that idea on the house.

My friend Stuart McDowell, professor, chair, and artistic director of Wright State’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures (Stuart, how does your title fit on the door?), says, “My first was a shiny black Morris Minor with red leather interior. Owned by my brother, but I learned to drive stick and had my first dates in that beauty of an auto!”

Sounds like the name of a new off-Broadway musical, Morris Minor. Feel free to take that one, too.

Well, as promised, more on my Galaxie 500. You see, I had some difficulty keeping it on the road. Things sorta jumped out at me, like telephone poles and brick walls.

So, off to the junkyard for replacement parts. Problem was, nothing matched my model year. Eventually, like the Johnny Cash classic “One Piece at a Time,” my tan 1970 car had a black 1969 Galaxie 500 front fender, a 1971 blue hood, and 1973 green car seats.

A big thanks to all of you who shared your stories. If only those cars could talk, right? OK, maybe not.



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Jim Bucher
For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at

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