First Car Stories: What Did Your First Car Mean to You?

The average Brit will own nine cars over the course of their life but the first is always the most special.

While your first car is always special, precisely why is different for every single person. Sometimes it’s a way to get to work, others it’s a link to your social life. Whatever role it played, everyone remembers their first set of wheels.

In our new blog series, we’re asking people to cast their minds back and share their favourite stories. Here are our first three.


Volkswagen Beetle

Sarah — Volkswagen Beetle

The first car I bought with my own money was a VW Bug. It was as basic as anything but it looked in pretty decent condition and it drove like a dream.

I’ve got so many memories of that Bug packed with friends buzzing down city streets on our way to concerts or dances or whatever else was demanding our attention. It was always such a social thing and it never really felt like it was just my car.

If it ever had suspension before I bought it, I think we broke it within the first week. Even the smoothest roads felt like dirt track in the country but we just joked that passengers got a free massage.

Sadly, I didn’t didn’t break up with my Bug amicably.

I woke up one morning in the winter — I’m not entirely sure how long ago it was but too long for comfort. I had breakfast and went outside to warm up my car before heading to work. When I arrived at the door what I found was an empty space where my Bug should have been.

After a couple of weeks, someone spotted a burned out chassis in the corner of a field and that ended the mystery. I was genuinely heartbroken, it was like losing a member of the family. I never replaced it with another Beetle and I think that’s why my memories are still so vivid.


Fiat 500

John — Fiat 500

My first car was a 1969 Fiat 500. It was my ticket to teenage freedom and the car that defined my youth. Every weekend it would ferry me and ten mates into town, somehow surmounting the mountainous inclines en route with its minuscule 500cc engine.

It was a workhorse, a style icon and the ultimate clown car. And it was mine. It was my pride and joy.

That’s why I was so excited when I heard Fiat was reinventing the model back in 2007.

But when it came out I was so disappointed. It was big and shiny and way out of the budget of someone like me back in the ‘70s. It didn’t even look much like the original Fiat 500!

You might have guessed it but i didn’t buy one of the new versions, although I did drive one for the first time a couple of years ago. It felt so weird. It had lost the cheap and cheerful feel of the original and had the feel of any other modern car. There was none of what made the original so special.

For me there’s only one Fiat 500 and it — like me — was born in the ‘50s.


Ford Festiva

Bradley — Ford Festiva

Even now 27 years on I’m not sure why I bought a Ford Festiva. It was a car so small that my taller friends actually turned down rides — that was a knock to my teenage ego!

My Festiva came in a light grey with an orange pinstripe down the sides — I bet there’s a designer somewhere who still feels super smug about that flourish!

The tailgate was plastered in stickers that I’d collected over the years in anticipation of my first car. I can’t remember any in particular but I think it was mostly music and political stuff — I guess my tailgate was an early version of Facebook!

It was my first car and I’ll always love it for that but, my God, it was a hunk of junk. I once drove through a puddle — not a big one, just a shallow hole in the road — and a small spray of water splashed up. It did something to the engine and I ended up stalled at the side of the road, waiting for it to dry off. To this day, I have no idea what happened and it started working about half an hour later.

It wasn’t just water from the puddles that caused problems either. It leaked when it rained, too. Luckily, there were a few holes in the floor so it all drained out pretty quickly!

I shouldn’t complain, though, as I drove that car into the ground. It lasted through high school, college and a couple years of work. All throughout that time I was putting down some serious miles, visiting friends and family and commuting between home and school.

When I graduated I moved away for work. A couple times a year I’d go back to visit my parents in Pittsburgh. During those trips, I always pushed the little engine a little too hard and constantly imagined it exploding in a cloud of smoke and screws.

Eventually it did.

I was coming home for Christmas and I started hearing this rumbling. Then there was this big clunk sound and the next thing I knew I was drifting along with no power, plumes of white smoke billowing out from the hood and the worst burning smell I’ve ever smelled.

It went straight to the scrapyard after that and I went straight to the dealer. I’m still proud it lasted as long as it did though.


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