Looking Back to 1969-Getting Our First Car

What teenager doesn't dream of having a car?

What teenager doesn’t dream of having their own set of wheels? For Teresa and I, that dream came true in 1969.  Strapped for cash, Mom got us our first car when we were 16. Free at last, we didn’t have to take the bus or ride our bikes to school all the time. We had a car!

Mind you, this was no ordinary car, but a vintage Oldsmobile, circa 1953, already a wreck so that Teresa and I couldn’t do it any further damage.

Cars back then were sprawling beasts. They could easily seat six, with three in the front, and three in the back. The trunks were so huge, you could stuff a few more friends inside if you were going to the drive-in and wanted to maximize your return on your theater investment.

But my mom also got us this car, so we’d have a way to visit her at UCLA, where she was laid up in the hospital undergoing another round of treatments to her afflicted right leg. 

Teresa and I would wind our way through Studio City and Sherman Oaks, over to the Sepulveda pass, and then over the hill to the medical center to visit her.  Having our own car made the trek less painful. Flooring it up to 50 mph, for a few moments we could pretend our family didn’t have any problems.

As any teenager can attest, when you have a car, you’re an instant hit with your friends.  We both became very popular that year, stuffing our pals into the Oldsmobile to do donuts in the dirt lots, play chicken with other teenagers on Van Nuys Blvd. or just drive for the sake of driving.

I can still smell the stale stench of that worn upholstery, with its history of several drivers before us. The odor was a cross between wet dog and dirty socks.

The car was a pale shade of gray, or perhaps, this was its mature color having weathered so many miles over the years.  The chrome was still intact, with those shiny bumpers that could withstand any damage from behind.  The dashboard looked like an airplane cockpit, with all those buttons, knobs and pedals that glared at you as you attempted to start the car.

We had the Oldsmobile for a few years, before my mom came into some settlement money from her accident, at which point we got a brand new Chevy Malibu.  It was a sleek beauty to drive, but I’ll never forget that clunky Oldsmobile, a real vintage beauty.

teresa mcgrath December 13, 2011 at 03:40 PM
nice article mary...i think the car was for mom, not us....she had to look forward to driving again when healed...we were allowed to borrow it, and we did abuse it in the alley as you pointed out...the '68 malibu was used too, she could never afford a new car except the lemon renault dolphine earlier in the '60's.....mom bought the olds for $50, and jack plus our brothers quickly worked on it...it had 3 on the column, and we attached 2 pink daises on the doors....personally i bought my first car in '78, a '65 rambler classic 4 door, with 3 on the column....leaked oil, and had a gas tank leak too, so you couldn't fill 'er up.....bought it for 150 bucks...back to the olds, mary and i took turns skidding and flooring it in the alleys, but it always started right up, after stalling....fine memories
Mary McGrath December 13, 2011 at 04:55 PM
The first car I bought was with a friend...1978 Datsun B-210. We got fleeced at the dealership paying 13.5 APR. That was an expensive lesson! Thanks for your input Teresa...And those daisies on the door! Real Flower Power!
Andy Steiner December 13, 2011 at 06:25 PM
My first car was being able to drive my mother's 1960 Chevy Corvair. A red four door sedan with a TWO speed Powerglide automatic transmission... why it was the dream car of every high school yute.
Mike Szymanski December 13, 2011 at 07:18 PM
My first car was one of the explosive Ford Pintos....bought it just before the rear-end recall and a month after purchase was rear-ended! What was YOUR first car? Mary McGrath brings back the nostalgia!
teresa mcgrath December 13, 2011 at 07:56 PM
between andy's corvair , the rep of reportedly catching fire, per ralph nader, and mike's pinto recall, there's still a lot of love with your first car...the details remain very vivid as if it was yesterday....
Mary McGrath December 13, 2011 at 10:27 PM
And let's hear it for all the naughty things we did in those cars! That's what made them so memorable...
Formost December 14, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Yes, those naughty things that we did and were said, "Hey, watch your foot....damn it, no wait.....not like that...someone will see.....hold it.....does this seat go back any further.....ouch.....OMG! It does go further.......wait a second... I have to get something from my wallet....oh, the heck with it.....
Mary McGrath December 14, 2011 at 06:40 AM
So funny Formost!
teresa mcgrath December 14, 2011 at 03:14 PM
the positions required some good stretching!
Formost December 14, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Thank you, Mary, for that. And, teresa, you've given me a whole new idea.... I see it now........an exercise studio for those who truly remember the need to stretch!....... Stick with me on this....imagine a sort of exercise/yoga/pilates studio in which there're several rooms.....each room is a replica of say a 1965 Ford Falcon, or a 1985 Camaro, etc... and even a two seater room fashioned after the Corvette! Now each person goes into the room/car with a trainer and then....well.....like.....you know......you kinda have to deal with a console/stick shift or bucket seats, etc... It's an exercise in stretching, creativity, etc... I don't know...it's a stupid idea... I just thought Hollywood and all that.... you know..a quick buck....Anyway, I got to get back to work. I have patients in the waiting room! :-)
Mary McGrath December 14, 2011 at 06:06 PM
The Pilates Plymouth?
Formost December 14, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Yes, yes, yes! Keep 'em coming. I'm taking notes. :-)
teresa mcgrath December 14, 2011 at 11:18 PM
love it formost and mary


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