QOTD: Driving Down Educational Memory Lane?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd driving down educational memory lane

Each one of you here in the peanut gallery learned to drive at one point or another. And whether that was via a proper driving school, or, perhaps for the older types, at the wheel of a friend or relative’s car, the memories are there just the same. Today we talk driver’s education and the car which withstood your naive mistreatment. It’s story time.

Botched gear changes, following distances, passing rules, jerky turns, squealing tires. Driver’s ed is hard on students, but harder on the cars. Long hours are spent in the classroom on books and videos, as instructors attempt to scare the speed out of you and replace it with pure caution and defensive driving. Did it work? A little.

I can remember how nervous I was when it was finally time to get behind the wheel. I’d been waiting so long for this moment — a validation on my driving excellence. The Audi 5000 was waiting as well, parked patiently on the street until I got my permit. In Indiana there’s a 30-hour requirement for classroom instruction, followed by six hours of time behind the wheel before a 15-year-old can apply for a permit. Surely my patience would be rewarded with a fantastic car with which to demonstrate my skills.

Uh, no. It was one of these. A circa 2002 beige Chevrolet Cavalier, in terrible Ace of Base trim. With an automatic transmission and air conditioning, it was bereft of performance. The Internet tells me it had a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that produced a shocking 115 horsepower. Those horses had to motivate 2,676 pounds of car, plus three teens and an adult. Sluggish and awful, I can remember how inferior it was to the 1987 Audi at home, even with its lifter-ticking inline-five engine. Summer temps in the 80s and 90s and a lack of window tint meant the air conditioning couldn’t keep the nervous sweat from the back of my neck. The driving part was tough, too.

The main problem that stands out all these years later is my initial lack of understanding where the center of the lane was. Especially on two-lane roads, my fear of hugging the center line and clipping an oncoming car meant I hugged the right side line, getting close to clipping mailboxes and signs. I did fare better than one of the other members of my driving group — an individual who found it incomprehensible that the wheel must be turned opposite to the desired direction of travel when reversing.

Let it all out; let’s hear about your driver’s ed experiences.

[Images: Ford, GM]

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3 of 84 comments
  • THX1136 THX1136 on Nov 01, 2018

    For the driving portion of DE I was by myself with the instructor. We did not use the provided DE car, we used the instructors personal ride - a 60 something Pontiac Catalina (or was it a Grand Prix?) convertible in red. Drove during one hour of school time - 2 pm. First time drive was from my town to a neighboring larger town (county seat) on a road which crossed a river. The bridge was an older style with a superstructure. I was glued and near motionless when going through that bridge - first time no oncoming, second time with oncoming. The instructor actually complimented my driving, especially after he found out it was my first time behind the wheel. It was dang scary for me. Like with many things, it got easy with more practice. I don't remember why I did the solo thing. It could be I had no other time available as I had an after school job. I was actually looking forward to having friends along like most others did.

    • THX1136 THX1136 on Nov 01, 2018

      Actual test drive car was the family 66 Dodge Coronet 500 with a 383 hemi in it. Did well - even with parallel parking (which I do not remember practicing during DE ever).

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Nov 03, 2018

    Late 1980s Toyota Corolla, four cylinder automatic. The driving school sign strapped to the roof hurt freeway performance pretty bad, but out of all the lessons I think we only made a few runs from one entrance to the next offramp. The sign didn't interfere with city driving or parallel parking.* * That is if you can call my several~ish feet from the curb "parallel parking..." three feet or closer notwithstanding, I'm pretty sure that part of the vehicle was obstructing the travel lane of those subdivision streets. The driving examiner didn't mind since I carefully checked my surroundings and used my signals.

  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.