QOTD: What Models Were on Your First Car Shopping List?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd what models were on your first car shopping list

Recall the days all those years ago (probably over a century for some of you), as the time approached for you to start driving. Some of you may have been prescribed a vehicle by the gift of a generous or perhaps spiteful relative. Others received a set stipend from the Bank of Parentus, while the rest worked at a low-end job to scrape up funds for an automotive purchase.

Today, we want to know what your aspirations were at the time; which vehicles did you desire and shop for as your first car?

Your author was shopping around for that cool high school ride in the very earliest part of the 2000s. Brand new cars all seemed to be going the oval route, but of course such expensive indulgences were off the table. I fell into the tertiary category listed in the first paragraph with regard to funding. Starting at 14, I worked as a cashier at the local Kroger, making almost no money per hour (minus union dues) while saving up for my eventual purchase when I obtained an Indiana learner’s permit.

I poked at my sore braces and looked through the Autotrader magazine made of actual paper whenever I had a spare moment. Ever practical in my selections, even my economic and middle-market sedan choices seemed just outside my $3,000 or so budget. Here are the old things that jumped off the thickly inked pages in the pre-Cash 4 Clunkers era.

The Honda Civic, circa ’93, seemed nearly attainable, economical, and cool. As I recall, most examples I saw were of the sedan variety, and pretty beat up. Still, they were out of my price range. But what about a smaller Honda, was that the ticket?

The Civic Del Sol was not a Civic to me, but rather a sporty coupe with a killer removable window arrangement. Though similar in age to the regular Civic versions, these were out of my price range, too. Worth noting, I also checked out a couple of Toyota Paseos, which were practically identical to me from a looks and functionality standpoint. No dice, they were rare on the ground and always in poor condition. Whatever, maybe a more boring sedan was in the cards.

Boom, a square-body Camry seemed possible (I’m loving this picture). Couldn’t find a sweet V6 like this one, though, and each one in price had a lot of miles, and had some sort of cosmetic malady. Maybe an even more boxy sedan could make things happen, with a bit of Euro flair.

I liked square sedans then, and I like them now. The 760 said luxury to me, and was a bit larger than the other options on my list. I remember driving one (which made some weird engine noises) and being impressed with the solidity on the inside. Again, hard to find in the Midwest at this time, it seemed a Swede was not in the cards. What about a German car though?

Bingo. In the end, I purchased a light blue 1987 Audi 5000S automatic with the inline-five engine. It had something like 122,000 miles, and was in excellent cosmetic condition. The original owner let it go for $2,400 or thereabouts. It had electrical, climate, and power locks issues constantly, immediately needed a new water pump, and went through a radiator and a couple of trigger door handles. Bearing in mind I had it for just two years and drove it only to school, work, and around town, it wasn’t too great. Loved it anyway (and still love the looks), lifters ticking away as I drove to work. That car made me feel special.

What was your first car shopping list like?

[Images: Toyota, Honda, Volvo, Audi]

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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Jan 18, 2018

    I actually only had one car on my list, a Dodge Charger. Any year between 68 and 72 would have worked. A friend of mine had a 71/2 and I thought it was a cool looking car. I found and purchased a 72 - gold with white vinyl top (could have done without the vinyl top)in 1975. It was a great car for me. Just had a 318, but I didn't care all that much though a larger mill would have been nice. I think I got around 19 mpg highway on the less expensive 35 cents/gallon gas. Drove the car to 276K miles when I was advised I had no compression in one of the cylinders. Decided not to fix the issue at the time. Moved to an 84 Shelby Charger after that. In a weird bit of coincidence, on my way to work one super cold January morning about 3 months after buying the 84, part of the shift linkage came apart - something I came to be familiar with over the course of 15 plus years of ownership. (It was a metal tubular bar with nylon ends which "snapped" onto the ball shaped ends of that portion of the linkage.) Got a ride to the dealership to which the car was towed and spied my 72 in their lot waiting to be worked on in their shop. I verified it was mine as it still had the seat covers I had put on it and some pin striping along the side I had done. About a year later I spied the 72, still on the road. At one point the owner, with whom I eventually got to speak with, had a mishap one winter and smacked into a light pole severely bending the front bumper. His solution was to mount some wood in place of the bumper. I would see the car for a couple years after that point, then it disappeared from the road.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Jan 18, 2018

    My original shopping list was pretty boring. I was looking for pre-1996 Crown Vice, and to a lesser extent Captives. Some others that I had my eyes on were of a more practical (read cheap to run) variety: Escorts, Cavaliers. On the less practical (read more expensive to run) were Explorers, Blazers, Rangers, S10s. What I ended up getting, because I had to pay for it all myself with no help, was a 1993 Artist at Eddie Bauer edition. While it wasn't my first choice, I bought it from somebody who I trusted for a song. I paid $750 for it and appreciated it because I didn't have to ask anybody for its use.

  • RICK Lou, not sure about panthers and Cougars , BUT at 76,I now consider myself a vintage Rolls Canardly. I roll down one hill and Canardly get up the next! Wishing you a Very Happy, Merry HanaKwanzaMas. 🎅🎄
  • Lou_BC The dealbreaker for me is the $80k starting price in Canada.
  • Zipper69 The Grenadier was designed ground up to be a "better Land Rover" and by most press accounts comes close.What little we know about the Quartermaster it's clear that it's intended for serious off road work without additional aftermarket fettling needed.The price is clearly a barrier, but IF it's the real deal, it will have a slot in the market.
  • Michael Charging more for less. Hmmmm
  • FreedMike Meanwhile, over at Nissan, you can get a perfectly nice, well equipped Frontier four-door that has a V-6, 4wd, and is capable of all the "truck stuff" you could ever want for $36,000. And unlike the "pay over sticker or go f**k yourself" nonsense you get at the Toyota place, the Nissan store will probably happily make you a nice deal.