By on October 15, 2019

This past weekend’s Canadian Thanksgiving afforded me the opportunity to converse with non-Twitter “normies,” thus allowing me to learn a thing or two about how such people live their lives. Of particular note was what goes on in my friend’s son’s high school parking lot.

No, I hadn’t heard reports of illicit activity, though you can be sure it’s happening. Damn sure. Instead, my interest lay in what his fellow students drove, and if they drove. Recalling my angsty, awkward high school years during the height of ’90s nihilism, it seemed my school’s student lot would double nicely as a BHPH lot stocked with nothing but aging GM relics. Granted, the school was a rural one, and its student body was hardly a bastion of wealth and privilege. My friend’s son’s school, on the other hand, is urban, and Soundgarden is no longer burning up the charts.

How would these two student bodies differ in their vehicle use, I wondered?

Upon hearing that the only students who drove their own cars were those whose parents bought them said cars, I recoiled in horror. Apparently, many of them are nice (read: new) rides. Not only that, but the severe lack of students driving their own beat-up, self-bought vehicles makes the likelihood of anyone at that school having a set of keys (fobs?) in their pocket a rare thing.

One can imagine the lack of impromptu off-roading during spare periods or lunch hour. What do these kids do with their free time — spend it on social media? Protest problematic speech? Explore strange new feelings? Smoke copious amounts of weed in the park a block over?

How will they learn to rock a sensible sedan out of unexpectedly deep mud?

I take solace in the possibility that this scenario might not be a nation-wide thing; that outlying schools probably have a heap of mildly interesting, aging rides populating student lots, many of them bought with pocket change for the purpose of ushering eager young minds across swaths of sparsely populated countryside in all types of weather, and under all manner of driving skill.

My mind also considered the idea that being the one student in a circle of friends with access to a car might eventually prove annoying. It’s your job to ferry Kayden and Brayden and Kyleigh and Kayla everywhere. No one else’s. Plans hinge on your availability. It could be a bit of a drag, though it’s better than having no vehicle access.

Were you this hypothetical student — the only one in your high school peer group with their own vehicle, or regular access to one? How did that work out for you?

[Image: General Motors]

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60 Comments on “QOTD: Were You a Lone Wolf?...”

  • avatar

    I was not that student. I graduated high school in 1982 – and the student parking lot was always full of old cars in various states of repair.
    Contrast that to my local high school, where my kids went, and most cars parked there were newer and nicer than mine.
    For the record my kids drove the 99 Camry my mother gave my son after my father passed away. This was circa 2011.

  • avatar

    I was a late 80s student in suburban Toronto. Had a two tone Honda Civic. It was rust-coloured and just plain rust. Someone was going to scrap it. Got it for $1 plus cost of repairs. Putting your heel to the floor to hit the gas risked driving Fred Flintstone style. I visited Canadian Tire every other week for a can of Bar’s Stop Leak. Best and worst car I’ve ever owned.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a similar experience in Saint John, NB, though it was in the early 80s. I bought a ’78 Accord. You couldn’t open both doors at the same time because the car would sag in the middle and closing the doors became a problem. No one could ride in the back seat in the rain since the rear wheel wells were perforated with rust meaning the whole back seat got splattered with rain and road grime. On start up it smoked like a WWII convoy crossing the North Atlantic.

      I still miss that car.

  • avatar

    I grew up in a boring suburb in West Michigan. You needed a car to get around to do anything beyond going to the store. That, and the winter weather, made bicycling a chore. Sure I would sometimes make the three mile trip down to the local Meijer’s store but more often than not I would try to hitch a ride with my mom.

    Within my circle of friends, most of us had cars or at least access to a family shared one. For those who owned: usually a hand-me down or really cheap sub $1000 iron.

    I first started driving my mom’s truck but her schedule and mine didn’t always mesh. That little 1984 Nissan truck with a “king cab” was often crammed full of teenagers with the girls sitting on boys laps in the rear and two people in the passenger seat. We were obviously all a lot skinnier back then. And it saved gas money to “carpool” together.

    I started saving for my first car and stupidly bought a rusted 1968 Firebird with bald tires in the back and winter tread in the front. The windshield wipers didn’t work and the heater core leaked onto your feet. But still – FIREBIRD!!!

    • 0 avatar

      additional: I live in the nose-bleed seats of a wealthy suburb. Driving past the high school I see a lot of really nice cars; much better than mine. There are still some beaters mixed in there but not many.

      The other day at a light I saw a newer Land Rover LR4 (?) filled with high school girls chattering away. I felt positively old _and_ poor.

  • avatar

    No, most of my friends had their own beaters or family hand-me-downs. Some of the richer kids had nice new cars bought by their parents, but as I remember it by senior year most kids had their own rides, then again most kids had after school jobs they had to get to, which I’m guessing is no longer the case

  • avatar

    My highschool parking lot circa ’04-’07 was full of various old hand-me-downs, the usual GM j-body/w-body/n-body stuff, caravans, old S10s/rangers, as well as an over-representations of old 200/700 series Volvos and Subarus (college town). There were a few modified cars, a guy had a black 5spd Maxima with nasty “altezza” tail lights, another had a MKIII Jetta that ended up with a turbo VR6 by the time the guy was graduating. It was a big deal when one kid was gifted a new Passat by his parents his senior year. I spent my high school years sanding/repainting rust off an old Civic wagon.

    My wife’s well to do midwestern suburban high school had all sorts of nice new cars in the lot.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    When I graduated in 1984, virtually all of my peers drove their own cars – most of them bought by their folks but almost none of them newer than about 10 years old. I think one kid did get a new Chevrolet Celebrity from his parents for graduation but he was far and away the exception.

    As for car pooling, I did occasionally drive my neighborhood friends to school but they soon decided they were too cool for me. Instead, they opted to ride the bus so they could socialize with the girls but, in retrospect, they may also have been getting high at the bus stop.

    Not sure if that made me a “lone wolf” or just lonely. I will say, however, I took up motorcycles because it was something I could do by myself. I was sort of shocked when someone asked me who I rode with…

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Once I realized I needed a car to drive when it rained or worse, I was the only kid in my school with 2 cars – this was 1995. I had help financially (as well as mechanically, etc) restoring the Land Ark but I bought my own 1986 Nissan Sentra. I only had it for about a year when my sister decided to get a ’96 Civic. Because the Nissan hadn’t been trouble-free over that year we decided to use it as trade for the Civic and I would inherit her ’90 Pontiac Sunbird. I had that most of the way through college when the head gasket blew.

    Having a car got my social life kick started and based on her own admission, it got me a girlfriend. My life started at 16.

  • avatar

    I didn’t have a car in high school that I drove to school. I lived in a small town (1800 pop.) and school was never more than 4 small town blocks from where I lived so I walked. Our HS lot had older hand me downs or cheap used cars in it. There were always a couple of students who had near new rides – either through parents or determined saving. My senior year there were two such cars – a GTO (a Judge without the paint and decals) and a then new Monte Carlo. My guestimate is that less than half of the senior class of 56 students had their own car – underclassmen would have been a even smaller number. The car I eventually had was shared with my brother – a 67 Sport Fury which we did not maintain as we should have. Prior to that we had a 55 Plymouth with no reverse that had belonged to my deceased grandfather. Now, the family car was a different story. My dad had purchased a 66 Dodge Coronet 500 with a 383 which I thought was cool even with the auto tranny. Only got to drive that once for a very short distance i.e. less than 20 miles.

  • avatar

    I wrapped up high school in ’09, and thankfully we were still a parking lot of sub-$6,000 cars with the majority costing half that. We had a few gearheads and a few enthusiasts, who could at least work on their own cheap stuff, and there were a few with mommy and daddy cars, but it got no worse than a Range Rover Sport(hah).

  • avatar

    I graduated from a Midwestern suburban high school in 2003.

    Since I was one of the oldest of my friends, I did have the driving duties by default for a while. Everyone eventually got their license though; it was a rare junior or senior who didn’t drive themselves to school. Mostly in the typical late 80s-mid 90s domestic sedans or trucks you’d expect. There were a couple wealthy outliers I recall though:

    -There is a tribal casino in my hometown where the (significant) dividends for tribe members accumulate and are kept in trust until they turn 18. There was a guy a couple years older than me who went and bought a brand new Corvette on or soon after his 18th birthday and drove it for the rest of the school year.

    -I’ve told the story before, but a kid a year younger than me was gifted a Hummer H1 by his parents. That stood out in a sea of Cavaliers and Grand Ams.

    -There were always a couple newer GM SUVs, including someone in my class with the rare first generation Escalade.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I drove a ’76 Mercury Bobcat and a ’75 Chevy Impala to high school in ’84, ’85, & ’86. Dad bought me the Bobcat, but it was crap and too small so I bought the Impala myself. Dad was pissed, claimed that I hadn’t “earned” a V8.
    Among the other cars at school was a ’77 Bandit T/A (he was very popular), a ’74 Mustang II with the roof cut off, a ’78 Ford Country Squire vinyl-wood-grain wagon, and a ’76 Camaro with a 400 truck motor dropped in it. My one buddy had his dad’s discarded ’81 Coupe DeVille (Die-smell), and another had his mom’s old ’80 Buick Skylark.
    The richest kid in town had a brand-new ’84 Vette. Even with the weak-sauce cross-fire 350, he managed to wreck it. We used to ask him how many fishing poles he was able to make from the leftover fiberglass.
    Only one kid had a beater 4X4 truck- nowadays, HS lots are full of those.

  • avatar

    Was in high school late 90s / early 2000s. Drove a 1985 mustang GT of my dad’s for a bit. (Don’t get excited, it was at the very end of its life). The first car I bought myself when I was 17 was a 1985 300zx turbo. Bit of a disaster. A lot of electrical bits in that thing that were actually quite finicky.

    • 0 avatar

      Meant to add – there were a few people with cars, but not a ton that’s for sure. My car’s couldn’t carry a lot of people, so I didn’t get stuck on taxi duty.

  • avatar

    I graduated HS in ’69. Large (5500 All Boys) public HS in Chicago. Just had our 50th last weekend. Mostly beaters, but a few New Cutlass S, GTO, etc. I did not have a car but all my friends did.

  • avatar

    I wasn’t the only one with a car but I was the only one with a care large enough to fit everyone (I drove a Chevy Trailblazer EXT my parents gave me) so the effect was the same. I didn’t mind because it meant that I always got to make the plans. If I didn’t want to do something or invite someone it didn’t happen.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    High school in the early/mid 70’s in a GTA suburb. High school still had 5 years (I of course took longer). Over 1,500 students. Perhaps 30 had their own car, at any given time.

    If you had one, you had considerable ‘cachet’.

    Mostly beat up, GM ‘muscle style’ held together by Bondo, wire and whatever. Some VW’s including mine. I can remember only 1 pick-up. And nobody had a new car purchased by their parents. Until one of my friend’s younger brothers got one of the very first Honda Civics in Canada. Which he had to share with his 4 siblings.

    Back then you could work part-time, buy a cheap, ‘old’ vehicle and keep it on the road for a year or two. And be able to get insured for a minimal amount. In that era an ‘old’ car was considered to be anything 7 years plus. Most rusted out by the 10 year mark, or were expected to be ‘worn out’ by 100,000 miles.

    The massive increase in insurance rates put a damper on teenagers buying and driving old cars in the GTA. Plus the implementation of ’emission testing’ and now much stricter mandatory ‘safety inspections’ has taken many ‘beaters’ off the road.

  • avatar

    Graduated 2003. High School lot was full of “normal” cars. I think a few of the girls were gifted brand new cars nearing graduation but nobody drove a new or nice one regularly. Only a few cars stood out.

    One guy had a fox body mustang with a built 5.0. He was kinda cool, but a spaz. A cholo had a lowered 80ish C10 with a built 350. The guy with the mustang and Mr cholo feuded a lot. One day they raced during lunch break. Mustang man almost crashed but barely won. The principal and SRO heard about the race. Cholo and spaz were not allowed to park in the school parking lot the rest of the semester.

    Another guy had a lifted 60’s panel wagon painted like a cow. I think he and his dad built it. There were a few of us with lifted K series trucks that barely ran and occasionally spent the night in the parking lot when they didn’t run.

    One guy had a itty bitty two seater VW. Half the football team picked it up and carried it onto the football field after school. The principal caught Mr VW driving off the field and wanted to know why he parked his car on the football field. The ensuing spirited discussion occurred as the football team couldn’t stop laughing while practicing around his car.

  • avatar

    I graduated in 1996, south suburban Pittsburgh where you need a car to get around. I grew up in a family of gearheads, my maternal grandparents gifted me a 1981 Buick Regal when I turned 16 in 1994 that my uncle rebuilt the engine on. By the time I graduated, I was on to my 1984 Eldorado that I repaid my parents for. Until the HT4100 blew up, which my uncle who rebuilt the Buick’s engine told them not to let me get because of that engine.

    Parking lot was a mix of cars, mostly 80’s domestic and foreign hand me downs and some new stuff, but not a lot of it. Most of my friends had cars or regular access to one, but my car was mine. Nobody had anything really cool, except maybe my friend with a 70 Chevelle or the other friend with a lifted 77 Ford 250.

    I’ve got 8 years until my twin boys are driving age and I have no clue what the landscape will look like or what I’ll be driving to hand down. I don’t want to buy them anything new, but I don’t want them driving anything old either. Of course, when they’re of driving age, a 2019 will be “old” and there’s really nothing out there THAT bad right now. Even a Mitsubishi Mirage, viewed from the context of Malaise Era trash, isn’t that bad.

    Nothing like an 81 Regal anyway and that kind of makes me sad. We really take for granted on turning the key (or pushing the button) and it just works. That old Buick was cranky in the cold, stalled a lot when cold and even when warm. 110 hp and a 3 speed auto/rear-end geared for economy meant it was slow. But I still managed to bury that 85mph speedometer more than a few times and get in trouble with it. But not as much trouble as today’s cars. Our ’17 Sienna SE is 296hp. My friends 86 Plymouth Voyager was 126 if I remember right.

  • avatar

    Grew up in a former cottage community that (by the time we moved there) had developed into a suburban sprawl wasteland bedroom community. Since there was absolutely nothing to do, and no where to go within town, it was pretty much a given that you were getting your license. Basically all students could drive, and a decent number had their own car (being the early 2000’s in a smaller town, late 80’s/early 90’s domestic products were pretty well represented, along with rotted out Civic/Sentra/Corollas). I had a car before I could even drive on my own, although most of my friends borrowed their parents’.

  • avatar

    This subject is sorta near and dear to my heart. I graduated HS in 1995 and I was that kid who drove around a brand new Mustang GT. I was in a very average middle class area, so the car was a bit of an outlier on the school lot but not the only one.

    I was fiercely proud of the fact that I was the one actually paying for the car myself (on dads credit, lol) with money made at the local car wash then as an entry level engineer. Looking back, I realize it was my dads way of forcing me into adulthood by giving me some responsibility. It might not be dumb luck that I got in progressively less trouble (and avoided drugs and stuff) as I progressed through adulthood compared to my peers. I was given the opportunity to see what you could achieve (materialistically) if I worked hard and did the right things. More likely than not, giving a 17 year old a brand new mustang actually kept me out of trouble I think.

    There might be a parenting lesson in the somewhere :)

    • 0 avatar

      You’ll kindly forgive me for not adopting this particular parenting guideline.

      Related: I knew of an executive at GM whose newly-licensed son got a brand spanking new top-trim Z28 courtesy of dad and promptly wrapped it around a tree. Got a second brand new Z28. Also totalled. Not sure how many vehicles he eventually went through, but one shudders to think of the lives at risk in that family’s driver training process.

      • 0 avatar

        You missed one important difference.

        When you are paying for something yourself (not a gift from Mommy and Daddy) it means much more to you and you’re much less likely to do something stupid. I do agree that “giving” a teenager a brand new car without them working for it is a bad idea.

    • 0 avatar

      My wifes father bought her a used beat up truck when she got her license. He promised her that if she graduated high school with A’s, he would buy her a new truck. She did and he did (2004). She wanted some cute little car. He bought her a pretty blue single cab GMC pickup truck so that she could fit no more than one other distraction in the cab with her. It wasn’t her first choice but its what she got.

      She proceeded to get into three accidents (all minor). He told her that this truck was all she was getting so she had better take care of it. From that point forward, she did. We still have the truck. Its more of a work truck for around the house now, has 230k on it and still runs well. Sometimes we take it on dates if we don’t have to pick up the kids after.

  • avatar

    My parents always had a spare car. Did you know that you can get 26 people in a Dodge Maxivan if the back two rows of seats are out? 360 4bbl, Doug Thorly headers, 3.23 posi.

    I did have my own dual sport that I rode to school on nice days.

    • 0 avatar

      Ok. If we are answering the “how many people can you fit in a (insert car here)” question, I have an example.

      My second car job was performing pre delivery inspections for Fiat in 2009. I am 6’1″ 190lbs. Jeff was 6’0″ 360+-20lbs. Omar was 5’6″ (on a good day) and 240lbs. Dustin was 5’10” 270lbs. Bill was 5’4″ 130 lbs. Goofy (i don’t remember his name) was 6’2″ 150lbs. And Steve was 6’3″ 260lbs.

      We all got into a brand new unsold convertible fiat 500. I drove. Jeff rode up front. Bill rode on Jeffs lap. Everyone else rode in the back seat. We paraded around the service department on the bumpstops for a few minutes.

      The space between the two service booths on the service drive was about 6″ larger than Fiat 500 size; so naturally i parked there. We sat there for a minute or two and laughed as the service advisors repeatedly made very rude gestures at us because they could not enter or exit the booths since we had blocked both doors.

      • 0 avatar

        “how many people can you fit in a (insert car here)”

        Chevette, 8

      • 0 avatar

        I have personally been inside a B-body wagon with 20 kids inside. The statute of limitations is long expired…

        • 0 avatar

          Mercury Topaz, 11

          • 0 avatar

            Never tried that. But we may have proven that it is possible to pass objects (say, a box of Girl Scout cookies) between two vehicles at interstate speeds (NOT RECOMMENDED).

            The tested method involves the driver (female, former tour guide at the Corvette plant preferred) in the right lane maintaining careful lane placement and a steady hand on a relatively straight run of road (purely focused on the road ahead). The driver of the borrowed 1973 Impala, in the left lane, then carefully closes the gap (purely focused on the gap), with the hand-off taking place between rear seat passengers at ~2X arms-length. Radio communication maintained throughout the process by the front seat passengers; lookouts posted in all directions; no nearby traffic.

            Not sure if it would work with less than 400 cubic inches of displacement.

          • 0 avatar

            My sisters friend in highschool had a first generation jetta diesel. Even with one person in the car, he couldn’t break the front tires free if he tried. That car was less than gutless.

            We decided to go hiking. So many of us piled into that car that we were on laps, floorboards and someone was even on the rear window platform behind where the headrests were supposed to go. That poor little car drove us 15 miles to the trail and 15 miles back. It never made it out of 3rd gear. There simply wasn’t enough torque and power.

            I don’t even remember the final people count. I just remember wondering why there was a dude on my lap and i didn’t get one of the girls instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            VW Type III notchback sedan, 11. Before seatbelt laws. Driver. Boy on passenger seat, girl on his lap. Backseat, 4 boys each with a girl on his lap.

            Fit 7 high school football players, in a Gremlin. Yes, 2 in that very small hatch area.

            Dodge Cargo van. An entire little league softball team.

            In high school we used to play ‘car tag’. Car chases around a given geographic area, and you needed to ‘touch’ the other car to make that car ‘it’.

            Lifting and moving cars, all the time. By the time I was 21, my training partner and myself used to parallel park his VW Super Beetle by parking it beside the spot, getting out, putting on our lifting straps and then moving first the front and then the back end, sideways into the spot. The back end of a Beetle weighs under 700lbs.

            Yep, we were well and truly stupid.

  • avatar

    In high school in ’98, ’99, I was given my dad’s ’94 Cavalier. Absolutely no one accused me of having a nice car because the car was already so dang noisy and vibrated like a jackhammer at stoplights.

    I drive by the same high school 20 years later, upper-middle class town. Upon first glance it looks like a bunch of newer cars, but the majority of them are several years old. They just seem nicer because, well, they are. In 1999 if you showed up to school in a 1989 Caravan, it was kinda funny. In 2019 if you show up in a 2009 Accord, you look fine.

  • avatar

    1995 in rural Ohio, everyone had a car. Most of them GM/Ford products that were at least 10 years old. Lots of A-bodys and G-bodys, a Sunfire or Cavalier thrown in here or there. Grand Ams and F-bodys vs Fox platform.

    The “odd ducks” were the kid with a fairly new Mustang (was orphaned at a young age and the car was bought with life insurance money) the kid with the almost new Korean Lemans (his Dad worked for GM and bought it CHEAP) and the kid with a beater square body GM pickup 4×4. (Trucks were not popular in those days for anything than actual farm work.)

  • avatar

    Middle 70’s, private school in Florida. Most kids got a car at some point, and most were reasonably late model American cars. There were few that were older than a few years when bought, but then cars didn’t last 200,000 miles either. Since I’d saved up some money, I gave it to my father and he added what he was going to spend, and I got a new Opel Manta. Other than that, the only new cars in the lot were children of car dealers, or the couple of boys whose parents were divorced and overcompensating.

    Jet forward to today. My daughter’s high school lot is a mix of many hand-me-downs, reasonably recent used cars, and the occasional new car. There are 450 student parking spaces for approximately 2100 students. Sophomores generally can’t get parking spaces or there would be another 100 or 200 cars by the end of the school year. Lower income kids don’t get cars.

    Being a Car Dad, I got my daughters late model used cars. Buying a new car for a teenager is bad juju.

  • avatar

    nope, most of us had a car. and most of them were second- or third-hand pieces of junk.

    • 0 avatar

      I once had a classmate who purchased an 86 or 87 Celebrity sdn for $100.

      The hood was primer only.
      Two of the rear doors were a different color.
      I’m not sure if the seat belts worked.
      The sub in the back was worth more than the car.

      Good times.

  • avatar

    I graduated HS in 2012, luckily still early enough to have a few car guys in the lot, but quite a few, probably the majority were newer, mid-2000’s vehicles, either the family’s second car or something that the parents had bought for them.
    I was an outlier due to me actually paying for both my first car and the insurance, a 1995 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that I bought off an estate sale. It had very obviously been rode hard and put away wet and was by far one f the crappiest cars in the lot, but that 3800 series 2 lasted far longer that expected with all the sh!t and abuse it took. There was also a couple other notable cars in the lot, mainly a near pristine 1978 Dodge D-series cab with a factory 4.0, straight 6 Mitsubishi diesel under-hood, and a POS 1988 Chevy sprint turbo that was famous for being pushed into the auto shop at least twice a week to try and diagnose why it wouldn’t start.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I graduated from a private HS in 2000. A large number of kids received new cars, with the most popular models being Integras, Infiniti G20s and more than one M3. There were plenty of hand me down late model Camrys, Grand Cherokees, and Explorers as well.

    My daughter will be 16 soon. Her public high school in a mostly affluent suburb is a mix of American SUVs and Japanese sedans with the odd hooptie or newer German car bookending those. Informal polling tells me about half of the sophomores aren’t interested in driving, even though most households are dual income and there is no practical public transportation.

  • avatar

    I got my first car when I was on my Senior year in HS, 11 years ago. It was a 2000 Dodge Stratus I paid my mom $600 for. I knew such car had bad reputation but I got it for cheap and had been reliable during all those years (she purchased it brand new back in late 99). Other than a previous accident and a lousy paint job on the rear bumper the car was fine. Only 4 HS mates had cars back then: a 94 Jeep GC, a 99 Honda Accord, a 99 Corolla and a 2002 Focus SVT. I drag raced my friend with the Corolla once, it was so much fun watching those 2 snails side by side.

  • avatar

    I graduated from high school in 1994. My HS was the most exclusive private school in Seattle. Most of the kids had newish rides, and the most coveted of them all were Eddie Bauer Explorers and Grand Cherokee Limiteds.

    I had a five-year-old Ford Taurus in decent but not perfect condition with medium-high mileage. A couple of my classmates called it a “piece of sh!t.”

    Meanwhile, I spent most of my spare time playing classical music, and my actual friends were mostly public-school kids who were also in the various groups I played in. Most of them didn’t have cars; the ones that did had worse cars than mine. One of them (who went on to be the best man at my wedding many years later) described my car as a “luxury car.”

    I still have my feet in both worlds; my job puts me in the first one and my social circle is in the second one. And sure enough my cars are modest compared with those of my clients and nicer than those of most of my friends.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude. I’m right there with you, having grraduated in 1994. My ’90 Taurus was my “step up” vehicle my senior year after spending the first two years in a ’78 Lebaron.

      My wife and I have a very nice income and live in a very nice neighborhood but have little in common with our neighbors and happily drive older, paid for cars. Our friends are all working class people who made good.

  • avatar

    Oddly, I have no memory of what other kids other than my best friends were driving at my suburban Philly high school in ’75. I had the ’64 Riviera, and my two best friends had a ’66 Mustang and a ’64 Bel Air.
    My car was the fastest of all of them, but no one cared. Another student tried to race me in his 6 cylinder Torino, but I just drove right around him.

  • avatar

    I had a car, but rode the bus since I wasn’t interested in payimg $80 a trimester to park or entering the lottery for the “privilege.” My car was a coupe be default, a 1991 LeSabre with driver’s side doors that never opened.

    A quarter of the students had nicer cars that mommy and daddy bought, while the others had older domestics. One student I knew had gotten a new A6 for his 16th birthday. This was right around 2003-2006.

  • avatar

    Way back in olden times (1960s), my working-class factory town’s high school had no parking lot, and most kids didn’t have cars. The school was centrally located, and kids either walked home, or walked two block to the bus stop. Most got rides TO school, from parents heading to work.

    There were no lone wolves there, just teachers getting tickets for parking on the street and forgetting to feed the meter. The stories of high school kids driving to school is probably from the 1980s-1990s, not before. If you didn’t see kids with car keys, it’s back to the way it used to be, not something new.

  • avatar

    Graduated from an East Coast Catholic high school in 1998.

    It was a pretty broad mix of cars, from hand me downs and secondhand ones like my ’87 LeBaron sedan. There were some new but not particularly fancy cars like Corollas and a few fancy new cars and SUV’s.

  • avatar

    I graduated from a VERY wealthy suburban public high school in Maine in ’87. The official student car of the place was the hand-me-down Volvo, Saab, or Audi. Literally dozens of them, mostly Volvo wagons. Lots of VWs, a sprinkling of old American barges (and some nicer hand-me-down plywood pleasure palace wagons) but not many – not many poor kids… A few Ford Escorts and such, but many more Rabbits. Very, very few Japanese cars – they did not last long in Maine in those days of state inspection twice a year. But one oddball was a diesel Maxima sedan driven by a friend of mine. Only one girl had a NEW car given to her, a VW Rabbit convertible – that was just not a thing in Maine in those days. Amusingly, the richest kid in school, daughter of the Pres. of LL Bean (LL Bean’s great-granddaughter) drove a few year old Escort, shared with her older brother. They were pretty unassuming people for having more money than God. Her Dad was the richest guy in Maine for decades.

    Most kids got their license at 16 – I was slow and didn’t get mine until I was a Senior at 17 (I was the youngest kid in my class, I didn’t turn 18 until after graduation). For the first half of senior year, my daily ride was my Grandfather’s hated 1yo ’85 Olds 98 Pregnancy Brougham. It was his retirement present to himself, but he hated the thing so always drove his Suburban. My Grandmother had an ’82 Subaru GL 4dr that she commuted to work in, but she retired at Christmas and they officially gave that car to me (thankfully, I hated that Oldsmobarge too). So I got the hand-me-down Subaru. I still actually had my license before most of my friends, because most of my friends were two years behind me in school. Just worked out that way.

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    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Mid-late 70’s suburban NYC. There was mostly American iron in the parking lot in various states of repair in my high school. Think the Linklatter film Dazed and confused. You had your share of muscle cars as well as Vegas and Monzas that were converted to V8 or V6 power.
    Japanese cars we’re becoming popular particularly the various Toyota Corolla models from the sedan to the sport hatch and fastback.
    Occasionally the wealthier but not ostentatious students would borrow the family W123 Benz, 1600/2002 or Bavaria, when BMW was less of a presence in the states.
    I drove my 66 Pontiac Tempest 2 door hardtop with the OHC-6 that I changed the 2 speed automatic one afternoon with a jack and a skateboard.

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    Graduated in ’94 from a Midwestern high school. Not a small town but not large either. Single high school, 3 grades, maybe 1200 students total.

    I started as a sophomore with a 1978 Chrysler Lebaron. Graduated with a 1990 Ford Taurus that was a company car that my dad bought cheap after it turned 100,000 miles and he got a new one.

    The most common vehicle? Probably the Geo Storm. Lots of Dodge Shadows and Cavalier’s about as well. The lucky kids got a Honda. I know of one unlucky one who got a Renault Alliance.

    Outliers? Girl whose daddy bought her a brand new Mustang which was mercilessly keyed pretty much every day she drove it to school. Ended up parking in a residential neighborhood nearby and walking in each day. Also had a kid whose daddy gave him a 454 SS pickup, for which he was continually getting detention from doing smokey burnouts in the parking lot.

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    Jeff S

    I was the lone wolf driving my father’s red 62 Chevy II 300 4 door sedan with a 194 cubic inch straight six, power glide, AM radio, and no air. There were lots of late model Road Runners, 442s, Chevelle SS, GTOs, Mustangs, Camaros, Mustangs, and a few older Big 3 sedans. Many of my fellow students either worked after school to pay for their muscle cars or many that didn’t drive muscle drove their parents old Chevy, Ford, Oldsmobile, Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth full size or intermediate sedans. The most popular car among the muscle cars were the Road Runners in their bright colors because they were inexpensive and offered a lot of power for the money. I saw Road Runners in every conceivable color on my high school’s parking lot. Yes I am older the Class of 1971.

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    I graduated in 1970. That spring my parents decided I needed a car. Prior to that I drove my dads 65 Ford pickup to school only when my dad went on the midnight shift and got home before I had to leave for school. Otherwise I rode a bike or caught a ride with friends.

    My dad and I went shopping for a cheap used car. I settled on a stripper 66 Mercury Comet 4 dr. At least it had a 289 V8 and three on the tree transmission. It was only 4 years old with about 40,000 miles. It cost $950.

    My school friend’s dad bought him a brand new 69 Mustang Mach I with the 428 CJ engine. It was the fastest car at school. He had it 3 years before he totaled it. I have the same year and model Mustang today that I obtained later in life. I have been able to enjoy mine for 30 years. I still see my school friend from time to time. He is envious of me as I was of him back in the day

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    During high school, drove an 86 cutlass that rolled coal like diesel, then had a 92 Eldorado.
    Most kids had hand me downs for 2007, except for one rich kid drove a hummer h1.

    Mostly cars other than the hillbillies in their trucks.

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    I graduated from a small town (35K people) high school in 1984. MANY students had cars – most from the 1960s or early 70s. The wealthiest girl in school drove a new 280ZX. I drove a 1966 Lincoln that I bought myself and paid all the expenses on. I still have the car. And yes, I definitely had a daily “route” of folks that I picked up every day – we all pooled our lunch money for gas. I wouldn’t have been able to manage the 6mpg if I didn’t pick up others who helped out with the cost of gas. I was thought of as one of the “rich kids” because of my car, even tho it was 14 years old when I bought it. Nevertheless, I mowed a hell of a lot of lawns to buy that car and then worked at the local cab company as an assistant mechanic 40 hours a week while still in high school to support it (and my nocturnal activities – which were many).

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    Jeff S

    I remember coming home from college for Christmas break and going to the grocery store with my mother. One of my classmates worked there and was bagging our groceries and asked me if I was in college which I said yes. This was during the Fall of 1973 during the Arab Oil Embargo. My classmate told me one of his biggest regrets was not going to college and he told me that that cool blue 69 Olds 442 convertible he had in high school was traded in for a used VW Bug. He was a nice guy but he would come to class exhausted because he worked all night to pay for that 442. He is now retired having worked for one of the airlines but he is now working as a security guard for a Lexus dealership. I was appreciative of my father for letting me drive his Chevy II to high school. I kept the maintenance up on that Chevy II and I kept it washed and waxed. That red Chevy II was so shiny that you could see your reflections in it. I still take care of all my vehicles just like that and I recently gave my nephew my 99 S10 5 speed extended cab to my nephew after driving it 20 1/2 years (120k original miles. My nephew has a 2014 Ram Cummins and his wife a 09 Accord but he plans on keeping my S-10. Today I am going to the courthouse to transfer the title on a 2012 Buick Lacrosse that I am buying from my neighbor who is the original owner (the Buick has 45k miles on it and it runs like new). I plan on keeping that Buick for 10 years and it will be my retirement car when I retire in 2 years.

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    GREAT stories ! .

    I had a pickup truck when I was 12 that I’d resurrected so by the time I moved to California and began High School in 1970 it was only a matter of time before I got my own car, I had to pay rent, food and clothes etc. so it took me close to a year to find a battered 1960 VW #117 Beetle (with holes in the canvas sunroof) for $50 ~ $10 down and $10 a week, the battery was bad so I had to push start it every where I went for the first two or three years but I managed, gasoline was .32 CENTS the gallon .

    Like most kids I was ignorant and so I thought I was being grown up by having my own job, apartment, live in girlfriend and car, all at age 14, no driver’s license until I was 16 .

    The H.S. parking lot was mostly 1960’s cars, average 10 year old hand me downs and the ever present $50 beater, one kid had a nice 1956 Cadillac convertible, another a black and white Metroploitan Nash convertible with big “Bud Man” stickers on the doors……

    High school was fun until it wasn’t due to work and life so I left and lever looked back .

    I don’t recall any shootings there but a some fights and a stabbing outside of my Biology class one afternoon .

    I guess I was a ‘loner’ because I never carried anyone but my two male friends and of course, my G.F. who had her mothers 1965 Lincoln, a HUGE BOAT that was nice but ponderous and thirsty .


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