Unforgettable Car Stories: Staff Picks

Our editors reflect on the rides that meant the most to them, from their first set of wheels in high school to sleek honeymoon convertibles.

Compiled by Damon Beres
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    1957 Thunderbird

    “My Dad always had cool cars, but the one that held the most mystique for me was his 1957 Thunder-bird: pewter gray with a red leather interior, white removable hard top, and 'porthole' windows. It was the car he had while dating my mom. Unfortunately, they sold it a year after I was born, so I never got to know it in person, but it lived on in photos in the scrapbooks of my youth.”—Dean Abatemarco, art director

    Mitsubishi Spyder Convertible

    “As the song goes, we got married in a fever, and quickly found ourselves on a plane headed to a Florida honeymoon. Mr. and Mrs., we approached the car rental counters at Miami International. Here's how I remember it: The agent exclaimed, ‘Newlyweds!’ and upgraded us on the spot to a glossy red Mitsubishi Spyder Convertible. I still don't drive. But for two weeks the Mr. took us from South Beach to Key West in top down, Johnny Cash, Key Lime Pie style – just married.”—Diane Dragan, executive editor

    1995 Discovery Land Rover

    “Some talk about the scent of a new car, but I prefer the mildewed smell of my parents’ black truck. As a teen, I’d take the car to the barn where I taught riding, and the interior took on notes of sweat and horse hair. I saw it for the first time at age seven and thought it was the biggest thing in the world. Then I saw it for the first time again, after I fell off a horse and lost my short-term memory for a few hours. Still, when I visit my parents, I take that car for a spin, the pressure of the gas pedal under my foot like shaking the hand of an old friend.”—Alison Caporimo, associate editor

    El Camino

    "The front seat of an El Camino comfortably seats two—which might explain why nearly all of my childhood memories of my dad involve a vision of his beloved half-car, half-truck. Everything we did together—hit baseballs, mowed the lawn, built bookcases—somehow involved his maroon El Camino. For my first driving lesson I steered while he manned the gas and break. When I think of my dad from that era, I see him snapshot-style, white starched shirt with the sleeves rolled up, standing in front of his El Camino."—Beth Dreher, senior editor

    1962 Mercedes 202

    “My parents bought a black Mercedes when I was a baby and we kept it for a decade. Its checkerboard upholstery was fitted with plastic slipcovers, and over time the plastic yellowed and ripped. I remember my cheek sticking to it as I lay on the backseat during long night drives to the seashore. I learned how to wash a car on that Mercedes. My father had me waxing and buffing almost before I could walk.”—Barbara O'Dair, executive editor

    1967 Chevy Camaro convertible

    "When I was a teenager, I coveted my neighbor’s 1967 cherry red Chevy Camaro convertible. It had a white top and white wall tires. It was owned by a little old lady who drove it to the grocery store only about once a week, so it was in mint condition. When she died, the car was put up for sale. I begged my dad to buy it for me. He refused. He couldn’t see that it was destined to be a classic! To this day I covet that car and hope that someday I might own one."— Marti Golan, art director

    1987 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon

    “When you learn to drive in a 1965 Cadillac Sedan deVille, you never lose your taste for large automobiles. Sure, I’ve owned small cars, but I’m an eight-cylinder guy at heart. My current ride is a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon, a faux-woodie that gets ten miles to a gallon. It’s a great car, but it’ll never replace the 1965 Pontiac Grand Prix I drove in the ’90s. Like the Caprice and that long-ago Cadillac, it was a gas-guzzling monument to impracticality, a dream of power destined for the junkyard. And I loved it.”—David Noonan, national affairs editor

    Your Comments

    • Ricjohnson Ia

      Really? A senior editor who doesn’t know the difference between “break” and “brake”?

    • Butler04

      Oh the memories of comraderie, friendships and the privilege to eat lunch “off campus”. Being the Vice President of Athens High School’s 1970 senior class, afforded me to push this legislature and get it passed. But my joy came with having the only car amongst my circle of friends. It was a 1962 Dodge Ramble . The gears were managed by push buttons and were transmission changes were the same as a an automatic configuration. It was a four door box shaped monstrosity, but if was a ride and it took us to the Dairy Queen the Varsity (oh GA Bulldog Athens) where the best pimento cheeseburgers ever were sold. I bought the Ramble for $250 from a co-worker where I was a soda jerk, where everyone loved my caramel popcorn made from natural ingredients. Back in the day, at my salary… It took me almost a year to pay off that car. Those push buttons were durable, and never failed me in passing another vehicle. Byl (Bill) Butler, director St. Elmo Waltz Society- Chattanooga, TN