When, and how, did you get your first car?

As best as I can recall, I bought my first car during my freshmen year at Wright State University, so that’s most likely early in 1975.  I had used my mother’s big yellow Chevrolet station wagon, but really needed my own car so Mom didn’t have to go without as much.  I had a modest amount of cash saved, less than one thousand dollars, so I searched for something no more than that and found a light blue Opel Kadett with a manual transmission offered by a guy on Greenmount Boulevard in Oakwood that looked like a good fit.  

While not that many young men at the time could drive a stick shift, I had taught myself that art on my older brother Greg’s Chevy Vega, not that it was a very smooth process.  I remember grinding the gears, drifting backward a bit when starting up a hill, and the many times I stalled the car and listened to the car horns of unappreciative drivers.  I knew the drill.  Rev the engine a bit, let out the clutch until it starts to grab, and work that balance to slowly get going.  But I was getting nowhere.  Out of desperation for a solution, I had Greg explain what was really going on and learned about the operation of the clutch plates, how the clutch pulled apart when pushed and how the gears in the transmission had to line up at matching speeds to smoothly transition from one gear to the next.  That’s all it took.  Now that I knew what I was trying to accomplish, the rest was easy.  Almost like magic, the grinding and drifting and stalling disappeared.  I have a similar story about skiing, but that’s really off-topic.

Dad drove me to Oakwood to help me with my first car purchase.  What I learned that day was my Dad really liked to negotiate, unafraid to get up and walk out if needed.  It would have been a really good idea if he had let me know that beforehand as I wanted to strangle him when I thought I was going to miss out on my “dream car” because he couldn’t get another few bucks knocked off the price.  All ended well and I drove home with the car I would drive through most of my college days, lasting until I bought a Volvo 164E after I started working full-time at Wright State.



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