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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.

1 / 7

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

2 / 7

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

3 / 7

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

4 / 7

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

5 / 7

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

6 / 7

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

7 / 7

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

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest