By on March 18, 2020

Today we take a little trip down memory lane and consider the cars which impressed us most in our youth. And not the part of youth which contains a driver’s license and costly insurance, but the more formative experiences before that. Let’s talk foundational cool cars.

Think back to an earlier time in your life, when that one awesome car appeared on the television, in a glossy magazine, or perhaps in the neighbor’s driveway across the road. It was just so cool. You probably didn’t know much about it, but that didn’t matter. For whatever reason, it impressed you in a big way; maybe you drew it in your Trapper Keeper (or, for some of you, on a papyrus tablet).

My single-car recollection is a very clear one. It appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and all of the sudden TV marketing was everywhere. It’s the first memory I have of an excited conversation at school about a single car. “They are fast,” Andrew explained, facing backwards at his desk.

Shortly after that, I saw one for sale at the local Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth-Jeep-Eagle-DeSoto dealer as my mom drove us by in the gen-two Grand Voyager, probably on our way to KFC. The Neon had such exciting, fresh marketing. It seemed like an attainable car for a young person, not something super expensive.

They came in two shapes, one of those an even faster Coupe. There were intense paint colors, fun looking wheels, frameless windows, and expressive graphics in the most popular Nineties colors.

The Neon had it all to nine-year-old me. It was modern, fresh, and exciting.

The reality of the Neon’s placement as very cheap economy car didn’t matter. How it drove didn’t come into play, either. It was the first new automotive product to really catch my eye, and I’ve remembered it ever since.

What was that one cool car that really got you excited when you were young?

[Images: Chrysler Corp.]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

111 Comments on “QOTD: Youthful Recollections of Cool Cars Gone By?...”


  • avatar
    jack4x

    I’ll be shocked if every single person around my age (35) doesn’t say the ’80s Lamborghini Countach.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yeah, that was the “Farrah Fawcett” of auto posters

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      More specifically, the 1985 LP5000 Quattrovalvole. I was interested enough that I bought a single issue of a German car magazine which had a cover story. The car seemed larger than life.

      I was absolutely crushed when I first saw a Countach in real life – it was so *tiny* – I just stood there staring at the wheels.

      Yes, those are 15 inch rims:
      https://www.automobile-catalog.com/tire/1985/52580/lamborghini_countach_lp5000_s_quattrovalvole.html

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    As a 12 year old the first 64 1/2 Mustang. This was a car different than anything ever introduced and it was affordable. This was a car that defined a generation

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, the hype and Ford rollout of the Mustang was like nothing I’ve seen since. It was as though Ford had reinvented the automobile

      • 0 avatar

        “the hype and Ford rollout of the Mustang was like nothing I’ve seen since. It”

        You did not witness Taurus rollout in 1985?

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I did, but I guess I was more impressionable in 1964 then I was in 1985

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          I was around for both introductions, and Taurus seemed only a blip on the news flash screens compared to Mustang in the Spring of ’64. Ford Motor Company allowed one reporter and one photographer each from both Newsweek and Time Magazine to embed at their design center and follow the progress before their respective cover stories broke during the week of the Mustang introduction. IIRC Time even jumped the gun with photos when a young Ford family member was caught on film cruising the streets of Detroit in, I believe, a white convertible two weeks before the official introduction. In the first color print ad touting Mustang, using a red convertible, there was a provision at the bottom of the ad for your kids to order a scale model for one dollar including postage and shipping(I still have mine-it’s a tan hardtop).

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I was a super nerdy D&D kind of pre-teen. Sure I played with Hot Wheels and loved slot cars when I was a kid, but I didn’t obsess over vehicles then.

    It wasn’t until my older brother dragged me along to see The Road Warrior that my love of cars really took off. That supercharged “Interceptor” really got me interested. And then I began to notice all of the old 60s and 70s muscle cars around me.

    Which led to my first car: a rusted and abused 1968 Firebird, red with a black vinyl top. I had no money to fix it up but dreamed of the day I could. I spent most of my just barely above minimum wage feeding gas into that 400ci engine. And then ended up selling it a year later for$ $300.

    After I graduated from college and had a steady income, I drove past the guy’s house who had bought my car. I was planning on buying that Firebird back and restoring it. Sadly he had moved and I let that dream die.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I remember when the Neon came out. My GF as the time and I were excited enough that we drove out at night to check them out at the local Dodge dealership. They seemed so wildly different than the other cars of the time, almost cloyingly cute. We were too broke to actually buy one!

  • avatar
    JimZ

    ‘71-‘73 Mercury Cougar. Dad had one tucked in the garage (‘70s Ford, so a rust bucket by the time it was only 5 years old.) I was fascinated by the sequential turn signals.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @JimZ – my buddy had a Cougar IIRC a ’69. That was in the early ’80’d. He never could get the sequential lights to work.

      Personally, virtually every car made after 1973 was crap. I don’t recall anything I liked. 60’d era muscle cars were what I thought were cool in the 80’s.

  • avatar
    A Scientist

    Ferrari F40. You see, in elementary schools in the 1980s, you had two groups of kids: the Lamborghini kids (meaning the Countach)and the Ferrari kids (meaning the “Magnum PI Ferrari” lol). I was a Ferrari kid. The 308GTS (it was just “the Ferrari” to me) just had the sleekest, coolest, sexiest lines. And then, one day I saw a picture of the “new Ferrari”, and just….WOW! So low to the ground. That nose. That WING! 200mph top speed! As a seven year old (google tells me the F40 came out in ’87), I honestly thought it might even be some kind of spaceship. I knew even then this car was one for the ages. I still have yet to see one IRL though *cries*

  • avatar

    I really liked 69 Chargers as a high school kid. But if were talking about cars that came out when I was a kid, the 94 Ram would be the one.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    For me it was the 1978 Pontiac Trans Am. My Grade 7 teacher had one and he seemed so cool because of it. They weren’t uncommon in my area and they all seemed so loud, so ostentatious … in other words, perfect for the late 70s. There was nothing remotely ironic about all the decals, including the MASSIVE Screaming Eagle on the hood. I built every model kit of that car I could find. The Monogram kit was my favourite. I built at least three of those.

    It was a childhood dream that was unobtainable at the time but still seemed within reach.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1990s Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe with DOHC HO 3.4 V6.

    Until we all figured out the head gaskets were a wear item.

    • 0 avatar
      RSF

      Yeah I was thinking Cutlass Supreme, but the 82-86 years. Especially with T-Tops!

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Before I actually turned 16 (early 1990’s), I think I had a Chevy Bretta and Dodge Daytona fetish. Dodge Stealth, Chrysler Conquest, Honda Prelude all honorable mention.

      The poster on my wall was Porsche 959. I ended up with a 1982 Volvo 240 GLT Turbo Wagon with a stick. Not bad in hindsight considering some of the other vehicles in the running as my first car.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      I had that engine in a 94 Lumina Z34. There were multiple problems with that engine, but I never had head gasket problems. Intake gaskets were the weak points on mine.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I know coolant leaks into the engine and burned out the tailpipe were the issue.

        Got my Uncle Tim’s 30th anniversary Cutlass Convertible and a classmate’s family Cutlass Sedan with that engine (his Dad was a GM employee so for a few years his mom hand a LOADED Cutlass sedan.)

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          I came close to buying a clean one owner early 90’s Cutlass Convertible in white with red leather.
          The 2.8 MPI automatic drivetrain was smooth. It handled and braked well but I couldn’t get over the Roger Smith bean counter interior and door mounted belts so I ended up buying a MN-12 Thunderbird.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I can’t pick one, so I’ll pick a year that exemplifies the nirvana of automotive cool, 1963. That was the year we got the Corvette Stingray split-window coupe, the Buick Riviera and the Studebaker Avanti. Three classics that still look good today and would be my top three fantasy garage picks. What a year

    Followed by the 1964 Mustang

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Now the 1963 Stingray and the 1963 Grand Prix and the 1968ish Charger

      when I was a kid I loved Thunderbirds, now, not at all

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      I would add the 1963 Grand Prix to your GM duo, and the Avanti would stay on the list, too. I remember the first time I saw a ’63 GP, going to a Boy Scout troop meeting at the local elementary school,when the head night janitor pulled into the parking lot in her new white GP. Still impressed when I see them at car shows. I’ll comment on the early Mustang in another post.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      I well remember the 327 “fuelie ‘Vette” from that era. The lawn-sprinkler Rochester fuel injection made for a lumpy idle and it could load up and foul the plugs. But unless you had a land-based rocket ship you were well advised not to square off against it at a light (or at midnight on Rt 27 in MD where the street racers ran). It truly lived up to its formidable reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      I am younger than you (born in 1971), but when I was around ten I discovered a gentleman in our neighborhood had an Avanti. It burned a spot into my brain in the area that appreciates the art of design.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Lie2me, that was about the time I started to really notice cars. I just favoured different cars.

      I thought the Stingray was gaudy and ugly, but simply adored the XKE Jag, which I thought then was the most beautiful car ever built. Actually, I still think that. Of course, when I got my D/L, it was far out of my reach. As was everything else, frankly.

      I was also much taken with the Lotus Elan. I recall that Lotus advertised that the Elan could go from 0-100-0 in 23.5 seconds. It took 21 seconds to go 0-100 (the numbers may not be exact, but I’m old and I don’t care).

      In 1970, I spent the summer working in a nickel mine in northern Manitoba, at union rates. So, came home with enough to both pay tuition and buy a car. Sort of. I couldn’t afford any sort of XKE or Elan, so wound up with a used Mk III Sprite. Fun car, but between the fluid carbs and Lucas electrics…

      • 0 avatar
        volvo

        I agree The 1st gen XKE to this day was the most beautiful car ever built. And if I had the money my car of choice would have been a 1960s Lotus elan regardless of performance and safety.

  • avatar
    JMII

    As a teen in the mid 80s I lusted after the Japanese sports cars of the day: RX7, 300ZX, Supra, Starion, etc. I had a Mustang (not the V8), several friends had Camaros or Firebirds plus the odd VW here and there. I found American cars too big and soft, I liked (and still do) small and nimble instead. My brother got a CRX Si which I thought was the perfect vehicle at the time.

    I would later get a Prelude Si myself after owning a Civic hatch. I went on to own an Eclipse and a 350Z so that checked off several “cool cars” in personal garage. Now I own a C7 Z51 so while ‘Vettes where not really on my radar back then I’ve managed to check that box as well.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Well, I’m in on a 1992 Sentra SE-R on Bring a Trailer as we speak.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    As much as some people panned the Peter Stevens redesign of the Lotus Esprit, that was my dream car in high school. Then they put a V8 in it! I was also a fan of the ’65 Corvette.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    Toyota MR2 parked on the street in 1987. Even as a kid it looked small, but it was soooo cool.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Growing up in the 70s, I was fascinated by the C3 Corvettes, Gen-2 Camaros, and oddly enough, the Gen-7 (77-79) T-bird.

    By the 80s, when I started driving, I really wanted a car with the cool digital dash, like the Buick Somerset or Ford Taurus. That one I actually got to live out when my wife-to-be bought a 89 Cutlass Supreme.

    Nowadays, although Corvettes are still a temptation, my next car will be a Mustang GT or Challenger.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    When I was 10 years old (1979), my uncle had a 1965 Chevy Biscayne two door sedan, Gobi beige, bench seat, 427 with a four speed, radio delete, and a 12 bolt rear end with 4.10 or 4.11 gears. Awesome car! It sounded mean, was ill tempered and extremely quick. Left a big impression on me as I have had a few of these of my own since that time.

    When I bought my 1989 Mustang LX 5.0/5-speed brand new off the lot in November of 1989, the first person I took for a ride was my uncle. He loved it!

  • avatar
    redgolf

    A Neon, really? How pathetic! I guess growing up in the 50-60’s was indeed the time to witness the beautiful explosion of the “cool” cars! My 1st car was that 55 Buick ( pictured) what I really wanted was a 1964 Chevy Impala convertible, yellow/black top 4 speed that was being sold by a distant relative, a lot of car for a 16 year old, my brother , whom I was living with at the time, talked me out of it saying ” it will cost too much to insure it” his real motive was he couldn’t afford it, I could, plus he didn’t want me to have it because I would of had a cooler car than him!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      even with its flaws, the Neon was a far, far better car than any of the junk made in the ’50s or ’60s.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      The Neon felt cheap but it was fun and fast on the cheap. A “nickel rocket” that spawned it’s own short-lived budget racing series. It was a lost opportunity when Chrysler didn’t develop the Neon the last 10% of what it needed. None of my friends kept their Neons for very long.

      Agreed, it was a great leap above the earlier iron from the 50’s and 60’s.

    • 0 avatar
      forward_look

      I bought a used stick shift Neon and drove it 7 years. In mild weather, it usually averaged over 40 MPG. I’d probably be driving it still if it hadn’t rusted out, leaked oil like a sieve, got hit (I got $800 from the hitter’s insurance) and had the water pump quit, rendering it worth more dead than alive.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Any 1960’s or 1970’s fastback or coupe was cool when I was a kid. Kadetts, Escorts, Corollas, even Morris Marina coupes were awesome and probably, like, really fast.

    In hindsight they were horrible vehicles, but I still love the styling.

  • avatar
    AutoPatriot

    The first time I went really obsessive for a vehicle was the early 2000s in 7th grade. A friend’s neighbor had a white 66 Volkswagen bus!
    It was a camper with the pop top. That thing man, I had pictures of it on my binders at school. I wanted it so bad. The owners would let me sit in it, that would only make me want it more. Finally at 16 I tried to buy it. It hadn’t ran in years I didn’t care, but still wasn’t for sale. I would still go see it every now and then until the owners did eventually sell it…to someone else.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Somewhere around 1968, a boy who wanted to date my sister, came over to visit her driving his dad’s Austin Healy 3000. My sister wasn’t home and somehow the boy asked me if I wanted to go for a ride in the Healy since I was admiring it so much. It was sooooo different than any car I had ever seen. While cruising we ran into a friend of his who had a 273 Barracuda S. We ended up out on the interstate racing. The Barracuda ran away at first but it had short gearing so it ran out of breath somewhere north of 100 mph…but the Healy had overdrive and gradually caught the Barracuda until both cars were running somewhere around 120 miles and hour.

    My life changed that day.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m a Malaise Kid, so the pickings were slim, but I fell hard for the BMW 633csi coupe.

    https://glenshelly.com/assets/img/sales/1979-bmw-633-csi/01-car.jpg

    My dad and I used to shop for cars together, and around that time, he bought a 7-series sedan. That was a great car, but the minute I clapped eyes on that 6-series coupe on the showroom floor, I was a goner.

    A few years later, BMW brought the M6, and I went from love to full-on lust. Lovely, lovely car…and it still looks great almost 40 years later.

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t he have a 560SEL you “borrowed” one time? Maybe I’m mixing you with Dal here.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        My only exposure to 560SELs was when a dodgy client of my father’s tried to pay an unpaid bill with two of them, sitting at a warehouse in Geneva. We went to check them out and they were in great shape, but the paperwork was, well, incomplete so we declined.

        The cars I “borrowed” from my dad were his very ragged E28 525i and then his Audi V8 Quattro.

        • 0 avatar

          Maybe I am right and it was Mike.

          I would enjoy V8 Quattro time.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Pluses: design inside and out, incredible NASCAR-from-a-mile-away noise, old-school Quattro traction.

            Minuses: heavy transient response, dim-witted 4-speed autobox.

            To this day it is the best-sounding car I’ve ever driven, and that includes all three of the V8 machines I’ve owned.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Corey – the Benz I “borrowed” was his ’75 450SE. He only lusted after a 560.

  • avatar
    Reino

    I was working my first job when I was 15, and my 20-yo manager gave me a ride home in his 3rd gen Camaro. I wasn’t interested in the engine or the performance of the car—it was the huge glass hatchback that completely amazed me! I had never seen such a thing. The back seat felt like one big greenhouse. I loved it so much that five years later I bought a 4th gen myself.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    My HS girlfriend’s dad owned the local Dodge Jeep Eagle dealership, and we took out any number of first rides around the area. Neon, the Ram re-design, Jeep Renegade, the VIPER! What a time to be a gear head….

    The car that most caught my attention growing up in the 80s were old 60s Mercedes fintail W111s and then 70 Mercedes W114/115. Nothing said classy like one of those Mercedes, especially when our family car was a Mazda 323.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Lie2me–Agree on all choice but I would add the 63 Grand Prix. I would add later models like the 66 GTO, 68 dark green Charger, any Chevy Impala SS from 61 thru 68, and the 70 1/2 Challenger.

    Maybe its just that I am getting older but the cars and the music were just cooler then.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      They were, but in all fairness to the auto industry back in 1963 they had a free hand to design anything they wanted without consideration to safety, emissions or gas mileage. It must have been a great time to be an auto engineer/designer

  • avatar
    snakebit

    There are three personal jaw-droppers that still come to mind. I was walking to a Scouting function in Hollywood, and in front of the Palladium was the first Jaguar E-Type Coupe I’d seen other than in a Road&Track magazine cover story. Another time, I was with my dad about to enter Henry Radio(a store on Olympic Ave in L.A. for amateur radio operators)when I spotted a Lamborghini Miura parked at the curb. I told my dad I’d join him inside the store in a couple of minutes. And, the night that Town&Country Ford(Reseda,CA)held their 1964 new model preview, I asked my dad to take me to it. There in the middle of the showroom was the new Thunderbird. Wow. About 18 months later, my parents got my white Mustang hardtop from Town&Country, my first car.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    ’84+ SAAB 9000 Turbo, no question. I was 15 at the time, knew nothing about nothing, but luckily I got behind the wheel (joyride?) of a new ’85 Mustang GT a year later, (long story) but sorry SAAB, I never thought about you again..

    Dodged that bullet, but I got a PT summer job in HS at a Toyota/Ford dealer when I got my DL, was trust with keys to the place to check-in parts (Dept) dropped off overnight, clocked-in at 5 AM.

    No one was around and a carrier had dropped off a row of new Mustangs after-hours and luckily (?) left the key in one of them, the stick shift GT.

    There were double S-marks up and down the street when the sun came up, but no one put 2-N-2 together. Later at 19, I still worked there, so I had to get my own 5.0 LX coupe, and at “dealer cost” employee disc, so it was too good to pass up.

    But being a dealership porter, it gave me “access” to all sorts of “sporty” used cars of the era, any turbos especially (got abused). Running errands for the Toyota/Ford dealer, any time the “shop truck” was being used (hogged), I could use (joyride) any car on the lot I wanted.

    Nothing impressed me much, until I drove an ’85 MR2 (stick shift) and had to immediately own one too, and did ASAP.

    I also drove a used ’85 Mustang SVO and that one surprised the hell out of me too. It took a few more years to own one of those, but what others call “turbo lag” I call “Turbo Slam”.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Reminds me of my stint selling for a Chevy / Caddy dealer in the mid-’90s – I spent many a long lunch break banging around in new Z28s, Cavalier Z24s, and anything else on the used lot that was fast (my particular favorite was an off-lease manual BMW 3-series that our used car manager bought on a whim to see if he could sell lightly-used luxury cars – right idea, just 20 years too soon).

      Unfortunately, the ‘Vettes were off limits.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Maybe you would have liked that Saab. A first-gen 900 Turbo holds my personal record for most dramatic turbo lag I’ve ever experienced.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    The one I couldn’t afford – Corvette
    And the one I could – CR-X

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Good point the designers were not constricted by safety, emissions, fuel economy, aerodynamics, and pedestrian safety. Vehicles are safer and more efficient today but most are as exciting as an appliance. Jay Leno always says that 1966 was the last great year for auto designs because of what you have mentioned. Maybe much of the music is not as good today especially with political correctness and the me to movement. Thank goodness for satellite radio and streaming.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    66 Chevelle Malibu. As a young kid used to straddle the rear seat hump placing and hand on each bucket. My dad would bet a buck I couldn’t keep hands on the seats. First gear release would throw me back every time, then he’d watch the mirror, hold just long enough allowing me to recover then shift again just as I was about to grab the seats. Back then we didn’t wear seat belts. He sold that for a wagon…sad day.

    Second vehicle was dad’s work truck, An international step van with sliding doors and gravity drop windows. No passenger seat sobdad stacked two 5 gallon buckets for me to sit on. When dad hired another worker, he got the buckets and dad nailed a 1×3 to a plywood sheet and spent my summers seating there as we drove to daily gutter jobs. Still remember rolling 200 pound rolls on 2×6’s then lifting into guide slots. When the daily thunderstorm arrived we huddle in the truck and dad would strike a match, light a Benson and Hedges menthol…recall the sulphur just before the acrid smell of the first exhale. Back then no one worried about second hand smoke. Odd I didn’t pick up the habit.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I had an aunt and uncle who had no kids and since he was a dentist, considerable money. They used to enjoy rallying and regularly went to Watkins Glen and Mosport and brought back souvenirs for me, including a replica flag signed by Stirling Moss, which I have of course, lost.

    The always had 2 nice ‘road’ cars. A British car and a big American sedan. His British cars included an MG-TF, an MGA and a Jaguar Mark II. I remember one massively finned Dodge that I really liked.

    But the best was his 1966 Impala SS. The first car I had seen with both seat belts and head rests. I honestly can’t recall if it was red with a black interior or black with a red interior. And it was a ‘drop top’.

    That car was drop dead cool.

    Although in retrospect I would now prefer the Mark II, in red with a black vinyl roof, just like Inspector Morse drove.

  • avatar
    SirRaoulDuke

    So many cars….Dad had a Barracuda and a Camaro, various uncles had Chevelle SS’s, Riverias, Mustangs. But the one car that really grabbed my elementary school mind was a neighbor’s 1960 Impala. It magically appeared one day when he opened the garage door that hid it. The six rear lights, the fins; what the hell is that?!? That was the day I realized cars were DESIGNED, they could be art.

    The C4 Corvette. It was like some distant future suddenly arrived.

    In college, the CRX Si opened a whole new world for me, I learned the hills hollers, and endless curves of West Virignia could be attacked in a small, nimble go-cart of a car much more efficiently than anything I had driven to that point. My love of driving a slow car fast remains, the art of maintaining speed a more cerebral thrill than all-out power.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    Pontiac 6000 STE and the final year Fiero V-6 were my lusts in the 80s.

  • avatar
    make_light

    At 31 I might be a tad younger than most on here, but the first car I recall being floored by is the 2003 Infiniti G35. I remember opening my issue of Motor Trend that month, and an ad for it spanned the centerfold. It looked gorgeous and futuristic, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a concept car. The internet age of leaks and spyshots has really spoiled that fun.

    Sadly Infiniti has since lost it’s way…

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Showing my age and focus on more attainable cars. . . .
    1963 Corvette
    1966 Toronado
    1968 Corvette
    1968 two door Cutlass
    1982 Firebird
    1984 Fiero (the original has the best styling by far)
    Honda CRX
    1990 Eclipse/Laser/Talon (still have my ’90 Laser Turbo)
    1986 Taurus

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Back in the late 1950s the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing.

    Clearly one of MB’s greatest achievements.
    A prime example of West Germany’s post-WW2 economic miracle.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    13 or 14 years old, saw an orange Plymouth Road Runner Super Bird parked at a store. Ran over to it and just stared…it was like a Hot Wheels car had come to life! No idea at the time whether it was a good car or not, but I wanted one soooo bad. The Denny’s Super Bird sandwich was (is) good too.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    You might not have a lot of comments agreeing with you, but I love the photos you picked! We’re clearly a similar age. I was always a car nerd, and by “nerd” I mean not just knowledgeable, but also that I cared a lot more about a Cutlass Supreme than a Lamborghini or a Porsche. I came from a GM family and I thought so many of their late 80s/90s cars, while not being particularly *good*, were so stylish. My parents would drop me off at the Chevy/Pontiac dealers just so I could look at all of them.

    The Neon was pretty terrible (and very unsafe), but it really had its moment. I spent most of my high school days cruising around with friends in one. One thing it had going for it was an absolutely massive back seat. Perfect for carting around five idiots in the late 90s. And the Neon didn’t last, but the friendship did. Awwww.

    • 0 avatar

      You know, even as a kid stuff like a Renault Alliance cabriolet (neighbor’s car) or the street parked Pontiac 6000 interested me more than the exotica I never got to see.

      I was excited when I saw a five-door Corsica while waiting for the bus. That seemed unique.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Grew up in a almost uninhabited part of flyover country. You could get your driver’s license at 14. So we are looking pre 1959.

    As you might imagine no foreign cars except VWs.

    Cars I remember as striking were the 1955 Chevy BelAir 4 door coupe (we had a Chevy dealer in town) and of course the first gen thunderbird.

    My family had a 53 BelAir and a 58 impala so IMO we did not have one of the cool looking Chevys of that era (1954-1957).

    • 0 avatar

      How were VWs viewed by the rural folk back then?

      • 0 avatar
        volvo

        You were definitely considered weird but forgiven if you got yours in Germany while serving as part of the occupation forces. The few around came via that route since all dealers at that time were pretty much coastal. Luckily they were drop dead reliable and regular maintenance work could be done by any owner with a modicum of knowledge. Also the owner’s manual was about 90 pages with no legal disclaimers. As I remember about 2/3ds of the pages dealt with detailed explanations (including pictures) of how to do most things including oil change, filters, points, timing, brakes, valves etc. I could be wrong but don’t think in that era 53-56 there was any mention of “take it to your dealer”.

        They worked great in snow and mud with weight over the engine. Always started even at -40F. Essentially no heater for cold weather but there was a gasoline fed retrofit heater that could be attached to the firewall near the gas tank and fed heat into the passenger compartment at the passenger’s feet. Imagine that for safety factors!!!

        All in all they were more of a statement than a practical vehicle for that environment since crashworthiness was very low and hitting a deer in winter was a very common occurrence.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    The 70-80s “flying doorstop” Lotus Esprit. Good enough for James Bond, good enough for me. There was a a guy in my neighborhood a few years ago who had a red one in his driveway, I was very tempted to ask what he’d take for it. But I’ve already lit a small pile of money on fire with one British car, can’t do it again.

    The original Audi Quattro really appealed to me too.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I was in high school during the height of muscle cars. Plymouth Road Runners being among the most popular among them due to being inexpensive and a lot of power for the money. Next was the Chevelle SS, Pontiac GTO, Cutlass 442, Mustang, and Cougar. There were many traditional hand me down cars as well mostly GMs and Fords. I drove my father’s 4 door straight 6 Roman Red 62 Chevy II 300 with a Power Glide, no air, and an AM radio which many made fun of–I always kept that car waxed and cleaned and it ran smooth.

    In my Senior year of high school I noticed more Toyota Corollas, Ford Pintos, and Chevy Vegas as the later were in their first year (this was 70 and 71 before the 73 Arab Oil Embargo).

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    Farm Country Ohio – 1970 +/- 5 years. Top Gun car was the ’67 Corvette. Then any other Corvette. But the compromise for most guys (and it was guys back then) was a Nova or Chevelle with Cragars and a Hurst shifter. Maybe a Cutlass. The kids who had daddies with money had Camaros or Mustangs.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I know this will get some guffaws, but…:

    I was IN LOVE with Pinto and Vega station wagons as a kid. My family only drove full sized sedans, and to me, those small, well-styled wagons were forbidden fruit. I was especially fond of the Pinto Cruising Wagons and the Vega wagons in orange paint and slotted mag wheels–a very 70s look!

    –My first car was a Pinto wagon, a 1980 “Pony” (base) model, with 2.3L. 89bhp Lima, and 4 speed manual. As much grief I got for driving that thing, it was reliable, and was great for hauling stuff–important for a college kid. My (now) wife and I had our first date in that car, so no regrets!

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      ..and it was great at the drive-in, just park backwards.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I learned to drive stick in my parents’ Pinto wagon…”Country Squire” trim, complete with fake wood paneling. Oh the humility. Fortunately my girlfriend’s mom had a Pinto too, so I didn’t loose too many points with her over the car. Handled pretty good, but god was it slow.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My high school years were in Houston, TX at Westchester in the Memorial area. Some kids had well off parents but many worked after school to afford their rides. In college (Baylor) the cars were either old Big 3 or if you had money they were the 73 thru 75 GMs like Monte Carlos, Olds Cutlass, Buick Regals, and Pontiac Lemans (GM two door intermediates seem to dominate). My Senior Year I bought a used 73 Chevelle Deluxe 4 door with a 350, air, power steering, and power brakes for $1,400 (a Baroid drilling car with high mileage)–not popular but ran great and bought it with cash and one of the best running vehicles I have ever owned

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The celebrity crush was the Porsche 959.

    The girl next door was the Camaro IROC-Z.

    Although, foreshadowing how my tastes would develop later in life, I also had a healthy appreciation for the comfy and feature-packed Japanese sedans of the time, especially the 1989 Cressida, which seemed every bit the equal of a Benz 300E, and the subtle and amazingly fast (by ’80s standards) 1989 Maxima.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    In college, it was the Mustang SVO… Basically the first car real american car in almost 15 years…

    When I was 12, the fast stuff was already 8 years old.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    In high school, not many of my friends had new cars, much less muscle machines. I had a grandma-spec 66 Mercury Comet. However, one of my friends showed up at school with a new 1969 Mustang Mach I with the 428 CJ engine. I never cared much about Mustangs until I saw his, and it had a lasting impression.

  • avatar
    Driver7

    For me:
    1968 Pontiac GTO – up the street from my childhood home.
    My interest in automotive design deepened when a Jaguar XKE took up residence right across the street from my eighth-grade classroom.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Two cars that came out around the same time made a deep impression…the E30 BMW 318i and the Porsche 944. I was 13 and just starting to get over the hot rods and supercars of my childhood…these were cool cars you could drive every day, and were close to accessible.

  • avatar
    mjg82

    7yr old me was obsessed with the earliest dustbuster vans. I was already flipping thru the Wheels section of the Toronto Star every Saturday at that age.

    The neon advertising is super memorable, especially having a Sundance in the family at the time. Later, the ’99 Mercury Cougar was my obsession the year I got my learners permit.

  • avatar
    ajla

    As a child I was absolutely in love with the Plymouth Prowler.

    I had Prowler posters, toys, and folders. My father owned some ChryslerCo stock and he gave me a copy of their 1996(?) annual report because it had a Prowler on the cover. I even wrote a letter to ChryslerCo (with a stamp and everything) about my enthusiasm for the car and they were kind enough to respond by sending me a brochure, a short note, and some other Prowler swag (some of which I still have).

    Anyway, when the car debuted, the local dealer had one in their showroom and my wonderful parents made a special trip over there just so I could see it. I remember being very nervous walking up to it because it was behind velvet ropes and had a $70K over MSRP markup and was basically my hero at the time. I just stood at the ropes and stared at it in silent awe, but then one of the dealer employees came over and told me I could go behind the ropes and even let me sit in the driver’s seat. That was a very nice thing to do and I hope many good things happened for him through the years.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    As a 5 year old boy, I fell in love with the original Mercury Cougar. Our family needed a new car in 1968 and my dad took me along to look at the new cars. There was a Cougar on the showroom floor and I fell head over heels in love with it. Dad ended up buying a Mercury Montego and I was very angry with him for not buying the Cougar in the showroom.

    What does a 5 year old know, anyway?

  • avatar

    The Mustang and the XKE (as we referred to it). XKE due to the British Invasion and the Mustang just because. On the other end was the 64/65 Dodge Coronet. As a funny car they just looked tough.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I faintly remember the 2nd gen Corvair Monza coupe impressed me; a few years later I loved the design of the Continental Mark III; and finally (don’t laugh) the Mustang II fastback. As a lover of Mustangs, the II finally brought the monstrosity of 72-73 back to a sensible size, plus the benefits of rack and pinion. Of course the ‘79 Fox was even better….

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I came from a family that repaired and maintained their own vehicles. Some of the vehicles I swooned over as a youth:
    64 Studebaker Hawk-grandparents neighbor owned one in red that I used to gawk over when I played ball on the street.
    61-63 Ford Thunderbird Aka bullet bird-friends of my folks owned one in red. The wraparound cockpit just looked so space age futuristic.
    68-69 Dodge Charger-came close to buying one in the 70’s before those Hazzard boys ruined the urge.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    My last year of high school in 1966, I coveted the Pontiac Lemans 4-door hardtop. The classic was the GTO coupe with the 389 and 4-speed, but a Lemans 4-door was available with the 326, buckets, and the 4-speed console shift. That was the next best doable thing, cost-wise and insurance-wise. Unfortunately, an older sister got married and I inherited her 1963 Rambler Classic 770.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    My inspiration was the Jaguar Mark 2 driven by Inspector Morse. I didn’t know it was a Jaguar at first when I saw it on tv, but a short while later I was downtown at one of the giant newsagents who carried magazines and newspapers from all over the world.

    One of the British classic car magazines had a feature on the 60’s small Jaguar saloons and I recognized the “Morse” car on the cover. That started my love of Jaguars and One thing led to another and I soon bought a 1966 S Type as a restoration project, which I stripped to a bare shell and rebuilt – every nut and bolt came out of it. I designed a conversion to put a Mustang T5 manual in place of the original Borg Warner automatic and also put on fuel injection with Megasquirt. I still have that car and it’s won some awards at JCNA concours.

  • avatar
    sayahh

    Acura NSX (VTEC!), Nissan 300ZX (Super HICAS!) and the Dodge Viper. Second tier would be the Diamond-Star triplets (Eclipse, Laser and Talon), MR2 (1st or 2nd Gen) and the Ford Probe (kind of looked like the Eclipse). Dodge Stealth and Mitsu 3000GT were pretty neat, too.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    First job around 15 or 16 years of age one of the butchers at the grocery store I worked at had a 78 Olds Cutlass Calais hard top. 260 V8, Bucket seats w/shift console, rally gages and those sexy Olds ralleye wheels!

    G Bodies were that perfect not too big, not too small size. Better than a Honda or Subarooo!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Until you mentioned the bucket seats I thought maybe I saw that car in a sopranos episode sitting outside the butcher shop. Trunk was decent sized as I remember.

  • avatar
    justVUEit

    I grew up in the Malaise era when size was king and bigger was better. As a Malaise era kid, it was big American land yachts, especially luxury cars of the day, that were the big draw. Anything with a driver’s armrest full of switches qualified. My affinity was Cadillacs, especially the big shiny ones driven by all the neighborhood mobsters. So it is strange that the first generation Seville became “The One”, in all its compact-sized glory. It had the looks, all the buttons, all the bells and whistles of the big Caddy’s, but in a more reasonable size. And an FI engine to boot, even if it wasn’t a monstrous 500 big american cubic inches. Yes, I was smitten.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: “but it may be larger than you think” I just don’t see it. Premium compacts from nonpremium...
  • FreedMike: Commuter cars may be dying. But I don’t think this segment of the compact market is.
  • Oberkanone: the Peoples EV 300 mile range for under $20K
  • Inside Looking Out: You want to say that they eat dolphins? How you can drive Mazda after that?
  • ajla: Yea, I don’t get the GMT900 hate on the internet. I know 3 people with them (all non AFM engines) and...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber