By on December 27, 2019

Your author, now the proud owner of a set of sure-grip Michelin floor mats, once pined for something even more elaborate on Christmas morning. The object of his affection? A rusty RWD Oldsmobile Cutlass sedan once owned by his grandfather.

Sadly, that slate-grey Olds did not find its way under the tree on that long-ago Christmas morning, back when the Spice Girls were topping the charts and Keanu Reeves was still in the first phase of his career. For others, however, and maybe even for some TTAC readers, Santa delivered in a big way.

While the vastly conservative Olds of my youthful dreams ended up being sold and not gifted to yours truly, a great number of hand-me-downs don a bow at Christmastime, ready to be put to use as a daily driver for, say, a college-bound teen. The life expectancy of such vehicles is often short, and personal experience has taught us all why.

No one likes hearing about the kid who got a new car for Christmas, as such gift exchanges inevitably breed resentment within the young person’s social circle, so today we’re talking used — perhaps very well used — vehicles that changed hands over the Christmas holidays. No, birthdays do not apply, even though 16th, 17th, and 18th birthdays are often when you’ll find grandma’s Buick Century or achingly pristine Honda Accord taking up residence with a new owner, condemned to a two-year-max sunset cruise filled with carnal shenanigans, burger grease, suspension-flattening joyrides, and shoddy maintenance.

Think back to Christmases past, B&B. Was there ever a new (old) ride waiting for you on that frosty morning?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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19 Comments on “QOTD: Has Santa Ever Really Delivered?...”

  • avatar

    Nope. Not a whole car. My wife, however, has had many performance parts under the tree. Intake manifolds, polished aluminum valve covers to replace the leaky stamped steel, racing carb to replace the 4160…

    • 0 avatar

      Same. Never a whole car but my wife has provided Christmas presents toward the existing motor pool.

      The best one yet was the most practical. She paid for the seat frame to be rebuilt and the padding replaced on the JR Impulse. Every time I drive that car I’m reminded of her gift – literally.

  • avatar

    No buy my son bought me a set of 1941 Chevrolet hub caps once, all five .


  • avatar

    Can’t really complain. I’m very thankful that me and my extended family have decent transportation to get to gather together :)

    Didn’t find any particularly good sales, but decent prices this Xmas for a used car/X-over.

    CX-5 or CR-V prices will be on my rather the next few months!

  • avatar

    Yep big time. Two stories:
    1) First car was a VW rabbit. Urine yellow. Sven was it’s name because it got me through the cold dark winters of Minnesota. First Xmas I had it Dad sprayed over that hideous yellow to a much more appealing shade of root beer. Was a great Xmas morning walking out to see that!
    2) Second car was a Datsun Z. Was rolling on a set of steelies with seriously bald tires. That Christmas my uncle who owned a tire shop stopped by and dropped off a bitchin’ set of goodyears wrapped around some chrome cragars. I still get a bit choked up just typing it.

    Bonus: I’m going to pick up a 2016 Mazda 6 today. Soul Red. God I love that color. Christmas is good!

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I never received a car for Christmas, but as a teenager, my parents gifted me with some great Craftsman tools….and an air compressor. I was soooooo excited, and grateful!

  • avatar

    Never got a car, but when I was 16 I got a snowmobile for Christmas, which until this day is probably the most exciting Christmas gift I ever got :)

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    As a kid whose birthday also falls around the holidays I would get an obligatory toy model. One year it was the Model V8 engine another was the Mazda rotary engine with the transmission.

  • avatar

    I got a R/C car… once. I’m pretty sure it was broken by New Years.

    My parents gifted me my first car after I graduated High School. By then I paid off about 1/2 of it so they just covered the remaining amount. I actually didn’t understand what they got me at first because it was just some weird piece of paper. My GF had to explain that paper was the “pink slip” / title indicating I was the legal owner now.

    My most memorable Xmas gift was a Commodore 64 computer back in the early 80s as a teenager. BMX bike? Walkman? Atari? I knew plenty of kids with those things… but none had a computer so it was pretty special.

  • avatar

    I did once get a Christmas gift of money that was about 1/3 of my first-car budget. I had saved up the rest but it was still very helpful.

  • avatar

    I never got a car, but one Christmas my rich uncle gave me a $20 bill, and told me to buy a nice sweater. What can you buy for twenty bucks? Well, it was a long time ago, but I’ll give you a hint: today, you need $171.47 to buy what $20 bought back then.

    I did get a car after my Junior year in high school. I wanted a GTO, but my sister got married and left me her poorly maintained 1963 Rambler Classic 770. She never changed or checked the oil, and once ran it down to the point the oil light came on. She then drove it another 45 miles with the light on, before my father added 3-1/2 quarts of oil. It blew a main bearing 4 months after I got it.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I got a stiffer upper motor mount for the Fiesta this year, so that’s probably as close as I’ve come.

  • avatar

    I got the Lego Technic Test Car 8865 for Christmas 1988, it was pretty awesome. I spent the entire Christmas day building it.

  • avatar

    Many years ago when SUV’s were something new, my son wanted us to get a Ford Explorer. He got one, from Eddie Bauer made out of chocolate. This year he got a Porsche 911 from Lego.

  • avatar

    Yes – I got my first car for Christmas in 1986. My Grandmother’s 1982 Subaru GL FWD 5spd 4dr in “Shiny Maroon” with silver tape stripes, a jaunty teak and chrome trunk rack and fake wire wheel covers (stylin’ for 1982!). A/C, but no power steering (or anything else except brakes) and an AM/FM stereo. That was the FIRST car with A/C my Grandparents ever bought. Old Mainers, a frugal and hardy bunch…

    How it happened was a bit amusing. That was my senior year of high school, and I lived with them. My grandmother was not yet retired, and was commuting from Yarmouth, ME to Portland every day – 25mi round trip. They had a diesel Suburban (they had a huge camper), a one-year old ’85 Oldsmobile 98 that was my Grandfather’s retirement present to himself, and the Subaru. My Grandfather had rapidly come to HATE that POS Oldsmobile, so he drove the Suburban most of the time. I got my license in September, and the new Olds became my usual ride, as the Subaru got much better gas mileage, so my Grandmother preferred to commute in it. But a few days before Christmas, in a big snow storm, she slid off I-295 into the ditch driving home from work. No damage but to her pride, but she never wanted to drive that Subaru again – “it let me down”. So they officially gave it to me for Christmas, complete with a big silver bow on the hood, and she started driving the Oldsmobarge. I MUCH preferred the stickshift Subaru as a car-mad 17yo.

  • avatar

    Never received a car for Christmas, but I’m a huge of hand-me-down rides. You know the pedigree, and often get a great price if there is any money that changes hands. I currently split my daily mileage between my grandmother’s final ride and another sedan that belonged to my mother until she recently decided she had to join the small SUV craze.

    My parents are older but have very new cars, and I could conceivably never buy another vehicle for the rest of my life if I was willing to drive theirs when they no longer can.

  • avatar

    In 1976 my wife and I were coming home to Memphis from Alabama for Christmas. My Dad told my wife for us to drive the one car we had with a trailer hitch because my gift was so large it would require a trailer to get it home. On Christmas morning my Dad took me out to his shop and there was a new single axle trailer that he had built. He had made similar ones for others in the past. I still have that trailer today and use it frequently. Few other gifts I have ever been given have been more useful or lasted so long. The others I can think of are hand tools given to me from Dad or my wife.

  • avatar

    I agree that Toyota styling is frequently bad. This one looks good, though.

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