by Chasidy Rae Sisk
My 20-year-old bonus kid recently bought her first car: a 2003 Lincoln Town Car Executive. So, basically a bus that’s the same age as she is – and also the same age as my high school diploma.
I bought my first vehicle back in high school, as soon as I turned 16 and got my license, with help from my Poppop who found it and loaned me the money. Each month, I’d write him a check for $85 and fill out a coupon from a receipt book that my mom bought me so that she could teach me about responsibilities. But that truck…shew, I loved that truck!
I don’t know exactly why I first got it into my head that I wanted a pickup truck, but that’s what I decided about a year before I was going to get to drive. I wanted a black Chevy S-10 or Ford Ranger, and I fully intended to get pink and purple flames painted down the sides (it’s okay to judge me; I now judge my younger self)! Alas, there were no small black pickup trucks to be found in my price range around my way, so my Poppop went on the prowl for me.
He was so excited when he called me to tell me that he’d found the perfect vehicle: a 1995 “maroon” Chevy S-10 for just $6,000 with something like 35,000 miles on it. I was less excited. Maroon? Yuck. But I was 16, and a vehicle meant freedom, so I mentally prepared to drive something ugly – at least I’d be driving.
Mom conveyed me the two hours to the town where my grandparents lived, and Poppop was grinning like the Cheshire cat as we pulled up to his buddy’s car lot. Before long, I was smiling even wider! Turns out that “maroon” truck was actually more like magenta – my favorite color. (That was also my first encounter with the fact that men’s eye for color is extremely different than a woman’s!)
Well, I was thrilled as I drove that little S-10 off the lot. And that joy never wore off over the next two years that it served as my transportation. I decorated it with pink leopard print seat covers and tacky fuzzy dice, even got a stereo put in (which was subsequently stolen from the school parking lot). That truck took me everywhere.
And the coolest thing about it? It was a truck! So while a lot of my friends would ride down Main Street over and over again, I’d do one loop down the one-way street and then park in the biggest shopping center, turn up my music and dance in the truck bed with my friends – we could basically throw a party anywhere we went. And it was definitely a party because I had an unfortunate habit of cramming four or five of us in that little front seat for short distances.
It’s funny when I think about vehicles from that time. I remember my pink pickup like it was yesterday, and while I cannot tell you what any of my friends drive today, I can still picture my best friend Mike’s 1981 Mercury Capri; I can also feel the frigid temperatures that winter since his heat didn’t work and his roof leaked, but he started driving before I did so it was better than the school bus!
And anyone who knew Missy (my other bestie) back then would recognize her Geo Metro from a mile away – the green car was pretty distinct with its red door and purple fender! As we reminisced about her first car, she reminded me that she had to “change lanes by putting my hand out the window while driving on the interstate. I may have been in the trunk at one point when it was picked up and moved…and driving over the Route 1 bridge was a death-defying feat as I had to floor it to reach the peak and often got side-swiped by the wind!”
That S-10 was actually the only used car I’d ever owned until last year. I bought a Dodge Neon after high school, and my college graduation gift to myself was a Ford Mustang, my dream car at the time. I’ve since owned two Nissan Altimas – one black and one white. And I now own my second truck, which was my Poppop’s work truck. He wasn’t here to loan me the money for that one, but thanks to his lessons, I had the cash in my savings account to hand over to my Mommom to prevent her from selling to a stranger. I love that truck because it was his. But I loved that S-10 because it was mine. I sold that little pink pickup truck just about 20 years ago, yet I still think of it fondly because it was my introduction to adulthood and freedom. I think most of us feel similarly about our first cars, and I’d love to hear about yours! What did you start driving?
Want more? Check out the October 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!