You Always Remember Your First Car

Category: Feature. Written by Dave Andriesen 

Whenever I’m in one of those conversations where people get to reminiscing about their first car, I sometimes will say my first car was a Mustang. Thing is, that’s not really true. I wanted a Mustang, just like any teenage boy of my generation, but what my Burger King salary could actually afford was a 1979 Mercury Capri, the bare bones “twin” of the Mustang.

The Capri had an eight-track player in it, and I managed to acquire an adaptor that would allow me to play cassettes — the height of technology at the time. “Rust” could be used to describe the color of the car as well as the makeup of much of the exterior by the time I got it. Mechanically, it had seen far better days.

Still, for the year or so I managed to keep it running, I loved that car in the way you can only love your first. I washed it more often than was necessary or practical and cruised through the parking lot of my high school certain that everyone was impressed. They weren’t.

I think every teenager should start with a clunker. It’s a rite of passage, and it gives you great stories about the door you had to hold shut with bungee cords or the time your muffler fell off during your homecoming date. I had a friend whose first car wouldn’t go in reverse, and when we went places we were always hunting for places to park that wouldn’t require backing out later — otherwise as the passenger I was stuck having to push it.

I think I’ve owned nine cars since the Capri, cars of all shapes and sizes. There was the Honda Accord I drove until it had almost a quarter of a million miles, and the Jeep Wrangler I rolled in a snowstorm at Snoqualmie Pass while trying to get to a football game. There was the Datsun 510 hatchback that kept going despite all my abuse, and the Nissan Pathfinder everyone said stunk of wet dog — probably because it had a wet dog in the back seat most of the time.

For 17 years, up until the closure of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in March, I was a sportswriter. I covered baseball for the P-I, which meant a lot of time on the road and a often driving a different rental car every three days. More than a few times, I arrived in a city late at night, drove to the hotel, then the next morning walked out of the hotel and couldn’t remember which car was mine.

I got to drive a lot of different cars, and there were often surprises. I’d get into a car that had an impressive reputation and find that I didn’t like it at all. Or discover a car that was a joy to drive even though it was a make or model I would previously never have even considered buying. Sometimes I’d get a model I’d never even heard of before.

Those experiences have given me a good idea what I like and don’t like in a car, and the little things that make a car the right fit for me. In the end, that’s what matters — having a car that just feels right.

Speaking of which, does anyone know where I can find a 1979 Mercury Capri?

Dave Andriesen is a former Seattle P-I sports reporter. His stories can been seen on as a contributing writer.

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6 Responses to “You Always Remember Your First Car”

  1. JAK on April 7th, 2009 9:04 am

    I missed out on the clunker for my first car, bought it new before I knew about the importance of budgeting. About a year later I bought a 1983 Chrysler New Yorker with red velor interior that talked to me for $300. Grandma wasn’t allowed to drive anymore and the shocks were shot. I loved that car. Car: “A door is ajar” JAK: “No it’s not! It’s a f***ing door”.

  2. Scott Boone on April 7th, 2009 10:06 am

    I shared my first car with my twin brother — a Nissan Sentra Station Wagon. (The car was a station wagon, not my brother.) The car was entirely boring, except for one feature. You could make it back-fire anytime you wanted. All you would have to do is give it a lot of gas when you had the clutch depressed. Great for surprising people as you drove by.

  3. Grant on April 8th, 2009 12:26 am

    I definitely fell into the category of the beater car as well. As a senior year present, my Dad gave me his 18 year old Accord hatchback with close to 280k miles on it. Engine would overheat, my tires looked more like slicks and the clutch would shift into first gear about half the time I wanted to. The “fun” features was that the call would idle and die below 40 degrees and stall while going downhill. Makes for endless stories and memories, but damn was that a deathtrap on wheels.

  4. C W on April 8th, 2009 11:06 am

    Love the Mercury Capri…when I sold it that is! But true, many memories. especially of it breaking down when on a date or something. That car had the best timing.

  5. Steven on August 19th, 2009 1:19 am

    I have a 1983 Mecury Capri (I am the second owner it needs a transmission , and a tune up, but its for sale and it looks exactly like the one in the picture same color and all.
    3.8 liter , v-6, automatic hatchback.

    email me if you want to inquire.


  6. Nesrin on November 30th, 2015 9:04 pm

    多謝留言 一談到信仰或宗教之類的事情 很容易越描越黑 所以我只會 係咁二 回應幾句 請勿見怪 可蘭經我由頭到尾只讀過一次 有誤解亦不出奇 有些新教徒認為伊斯蘭教的上帝不是基督教的上帝 不過以我理解 應是相同的 兩教的最大分歧類似猶太教與基督教的分歧 都是不承認耶穌是神的兒子 分別只是猶太教當耶穌是一個 disillusioned 的猶太人 而回教徒當耶穌是先知 基督教或回教禁拜偶像 聖經甚至說 不可有別的神 外人可能會覺得很霸道 但在信徒的立場而言 這是很自然的 原因是我們相信耶和華才是獨一的真神 其他的都是假冒或A貨 打個不是很好的比喻 情形就像科學家批評偽科學一樣 這個比喻不好的原因 一是信仰不能像科學般驗證 二是教會中人很遺憾地也有搞偽科學的 至於另一個話題 香港人成日話要刺激本土消費 但我沒看過有那個廣告是令人覺得香港 而不只是賣廣告的機構 是一個好正 好好玩的地方 台灣旅遊局的廣告不錯 但還是 怎麼說呢 太中產 太個人 太高級 太刻意 當然 不同人有不同品味 而我還是喜歡咀香園的廣告多一些 BTW 你不留言我也不發覺之前串錯了 Soler 的名字 謝謝

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