Question of the Day: Which Car Did You Learn to Drive With?

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
question of the day which car did you learn to drive with

Warning: Today's question is not about your first car. Though we suppose there could be overlap. But what I'm interested in is the car that was used to teach you to drive. When I was eleven-years-old I got into a weird fight with my dad. He said that no Japanese car could be worth $20,000. This was in 1986 and the Legend (so to speak) had just been born. I explained to him that the buff books were all saying very good things about Honda's new luxury brand. My dad loved Datsun Zs and sporty Hondas, but just couldn't wrap his head around that level of sticker shock. So the two of us went down to the brand new Acura Dealer to investigate. A few hours later we drove off with a brand new champagne-colored Integra. It had leather seats (the first car my father ever had so equipped) and a $13,995 sticker price. I mention this because when it came time to get my learner's permit and then take the big test, that Integra served me well. But was it the first car I learned on? My memory banks are a bit foggy. I remember when I was seven or so sitting in the passenger seat of a Nissan Sentra wagon and yelling, "Clutch!" Dad was teaching me how to shift. Then when I was ten I remember he let me drive our enormous Buick wagon up and down a dirt road. His logic being that he learned to drive at twelve, and had never had an accident, ten-years-old would be even safer. But in truth, I gotta go with that brown on brown Integra. You?

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  • Mirko Reinhardt Mirko Reinhardt on Jun 23, 2008

    At driving school (1998): Peugeot 306 with a fire-breathing 68hp diesel. First own car: 1989 Nissan Sunny 1.6 hatch. Enormous fun, no a/c, power nothing. First time driving an automatic: A few days later... '95 Mercedes 300 turbodiesel wagon (I never want an auto)

  • Rprellwitz Rprellwitz on Jun 23, 2008

    1984 Corolla SR5 5-speed manual RWD Silver / Blue My mom took me on a country road and made me practice getting the car to move without applying any throttle. Took my drivers test in the same vehicle on my 16th birthday which was a day we recieved enough snow to cancel school yet the DMV was still open. Great Car

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jun 26, 2008

    My grandfather sold used cars and trucks so I got to drive all sorts of former state and federal gov't cars (the plainest of the Janes) around the yard from about the time I was 11 or 12. That's not saying much. At least I knew where all the buttons and levers were. I learned to the drive on the road around 1984 (14th birthday) in a 1935 Ford Fordor sedan. Think big flat-head v-8 gangster car. With mechanical brakes. WHY Henry Ford stuck with those mechanical brakes for as long as he did I'll never know. Maybe it adjusted just right they were better than the ones in our 1935 Fordor. Dunno. Anyhow I could steer it, could shift it, and could start it but I couldn't stop it. I just wasn't strong enough though my legs were long enough. Went from that to a mid-60s 327 powered Impala (or Caprice?). Put that one in the woods (no damage) b/c of bald tires, WAY over-boosted brakes, and WAY WAY over-boosted steering. The times I have driven cars like that since feel very, very unsafe b/c the controls are so numb. This was a former country preachers car and carried about 400 lbs of mud under the chassis. We pulled the engine for a hot rod Dad built and the rest of the car (in good condition but needed paint) went to the crusher. Go down to learning to drive in an 1983 Celica 5 speed. Nice little car. Not much power but it did it's work well and last far beyond our expectations. Sunroof, gold/brown paint, a/c, RWD, five speed. Was a good little car. Got my first of three Mustangs when I was 15 or so. First one was a 1966. Had to restore it to make it presentable. Learned to do brakes, paint, interiors, engine rebuilds, etc. What a piece of junk. It was eagerly anticipating it's return to Mother Earth so it rusted as quickly as it could no matter what we did to slow that. It was a piece of junk b/c of the abuse the previous owners had given it. Prob 5 or 6 teens had owned that car before me. Suspension creaked. Rearend howled. Transmission was wornout. Driveshaft splines were worn. Leaked all of it's fluids constantly. Three speed tranny. Drum brakes. Leaned like a ship in a wind-storm on the curves. Brakes went out TWICE going down the mountain where we lived. Darned signle circuit brakes so if one wheel cylinder failed they all failed. No wreck - somehow. Was in rush hour. Three speed tranny was awful. Driven other three speeds that were better I think. Not really enough power to go from 1st to 2nd. Ratios were too wide. Then the same problem from 2nd to 3rd. COuldn't stay in 3rd once you got there b/c the engine didn't have enough power. 3rd was still geared too low for highway use so 60 mph made the old six scream. All 120 HP of it. Or so the spec sheet promised. Later got a '64.5 convertible. Never restored it. After that got an '81 with that same six cylinder from the retired lady next door. This time with all the smog equipment it promised 90 whole HP from a 3.3L six. How smoke it was a lazy engine - and not in any kind of good way. Power everything and a slushbox. Slushbox went out 6 months later. Apparently it preferred to be left in drive all the time. No shifting for it. Worn clutches. Like so many above have said - these cars all taught me something about driving. I loved them all for different reasons - sometimes the same reasons. The antiques taught me how easy modern cars were relative to the 1980s. The two 60s Mustangs showed me what owner neglect would do to a car and what a partial restoration would yield (problems forever). The '81 Mustang taught me how to travel b/c it went to college and the US Navy with me. It was my trips overseas that Dad claims ruined me b/c I haven't owned another domestic vehicle since. An '84 Rabbit 'ver I had over there taught me how to drive 100mph+ without getting killed. It was all about rules of the road. Folks around here don't have enough road discipline to drive like that all the time. I'd like to have all of them back with a shop big enough to store and work on them, money to properly care for them, and time to drive them.

  • Minion444 Minion444 on Jun 27, 2008

    69 Mercury Cougar. My Dad's ride. Black Cherry, 351 w with auto. Long hood. thought I had a rocket ship to pilot