Memories: Cars Of My Childhood

Born in 1971, I sometimes joke that my entry into the world marked the end of the "glory years" for American auto makers, when for twenty years (1950s & 1960s) some of the most creative and beautiful cars in human history were built.

Below are photos of my parents' cars and grandparents' cars. I also include a section with every car I have owned. Someday, if I become ridiculously rich, I may go on a quest to obtain all of the vehicles below ... for fun and memories sake! :) -Steve

My Parents' Cars

Photo by Hemmings Car Blog.

1971 Plymouth Duster

My mother drove my brothers and I in a blue Plymouth Duster coupe with a black vinyl top. It was definitely not a sporty Duster, and had the same hubcaps in the adjacent photo.

We had this car until the late 1970s, when we bought the '79 Chevy Malibu. My parents sold the Duster to my uncle for a dollar, and I think my Uncle Eddie drove it for a year or two, then junked it after a series of breakdowns.

Photo by MotorBase.

1973 Buick Century

My Dad's commuter vehicle was a 1973 Buick Century sedan. It was far from an exciting car. Our car had a similar creamy yellow, perhaps less brighter than the adjacent photo, with the same standard hubcaps. My most stark memory of the Century was during a routine Sunday morning drive to my grandparents' home in New York City. We entered Interstate 80 in New Jersey and as we accelerated, smoke started coming out of the hood. The car broke down right on the Interstate. Eventually a tow truck rescued us.

My Dad, who never had much patience for old cars that had lost their reliability, held onto the Century for a few more years, but he bought something new ...

Photo by How Stuff Works.

1979 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

My parents bought a chocolate brown Chevrolet Malibu Classic sedan. It had a yellow line going across the side with attractive beige vinyl seats. As an eight-year-old, this was my first experience watching my Dad buy a car! I'll never forget the evening we bought it as a family at the Gearhart Chevrolet dealership in Denville, NJ. The new car smell. Everything was clean and worked perfectly. The hubcaps were the non-sporty style, but nonetheless had an attractive daisy flower design.

It was the era when two-tone cars were popular, and I recall seeing many vehicles colored in the adjacent photo. Although brown may not have been my first color choice, I grew to like it. When I became a teenager and started driving in 1988, I learned to drive in the Chevy Malibu.

Our Malibu lasted longer than any previous vehicle in the family's history. It was also the first to reach 100,000 miles - an amazing milestone back in the day. Sometime in the 1990s, my Dad got rid of the Malibu. Although it was running fine, it was an old car that they didn't need anymore. My Dad wasn't the type to hold onto anything for sentimental or classic car value, and so he traded it in with one of his new car purchases.

Photo by Andrew Turnbull.

1983 Chevrolet Celebrity

A light blue Chevrolet Celebrity replaced the Buick Century in 1983. At this time, I've had difficulty identifying the differences between the 1982 and 1983 Celebrity models, but I do recall the tail lights had an orange panel for the turn signal. If I had to guess, I'd say we had the 1983 model.

The Celebrity was somewhat smaller than our '79 Malibu and it looked wimpier. It's "boring rectangle" shape was no exception to the uninspiring designs of many 1980S American cars.

After the Celebrity, my parents owned many other cars, of course. They had a late 1980s Buick LeSabre, an early 1990s Pontiac Grand Am, a mid-1990s Toyota Camry and others.

My Grandparents' Cars

Photo by Motortopia.

1972 or 1973 Buick LeSabre

On my maternal grandparents' side, my first memory was their 1972 or 1973 Buick LeSabre. After doing some research, it appears the 1972 and 1973 models were similar, if not the very same. I think theirs was a golden color.

Photo by Jalopink.

1977 or 1978 Buick LeSabre

I do remember the excitement when my grandparents drove their new red Buick LeSabre into our driveway. The make was either a 1977 or 1978 Buick LeSabre, and the tail lights, hubcaps and white top were exactly as seen in the photo.

The car felt strong and large. The engine ran quietly. A red car, the dashboard was also red with a plush red interior. As kids, we drove a lot in that wonderful car. Sweet memories!

Photo by Team Speed Lan.

1969 Ford LTD

My paternal grandmother owned a massive 1969 Ford LTD in a wine color. It may have been violet or a deep red. I don't think I ever traveled in it, as my grandmother and her second husband ("Grandpa Jim") didn't drive much. I just remember looking at the vehicle as a kid and marveling at its large size. :)

Every Car I've Owned

1991 Honda CRX

It was March 1992, and the lot at the Honda dealership in Pequannock, NJ only had four remaining Honda CRX's left. For awhile I wanted a CRX, essentially a Honda Civic with the back chopped off and only two seats, and my Dad generously bought me a new car. I needed something to commute to college (while living at home) and what can I say? My Dad was generous enough to buy me something new instead of used.

I loved my Honda CRX so much. It ran so well for many years. Hondas indeed have one of the best reputations in reliability, and after witnessing so many problems with my Dad's American cars, I was very willing to own a Honda. Among so many memories, here's one: In 1994, after graduating college, I drove my CRX across the country. Previously, I had been all over the east coast, from Massachusetts to Florida, but I had never traveled west. In September-October 1994, I explored the rest of the country and fell in love with the Interior West. It was then I knew I wanted live in the West, and in 1997 I made the move.

In June 2003, my CRX hit 200,000 miles. However, with regret, I did not take good care of my Honda after that. Oils were leaking, it needed a new muffler and the body had a few dinks and dents. Part of my problem was my na�vet�, and I also didn't have a lot of money to put into the car for repairs. Although I had changed the timing belt once in 1998, in March 2005, the timing belt broke again, bringing my car to a halt. I should have known better, as it had been approximately 100K miles since my last timing belt change. With about 230,000 miles on the odometer, I sold the CRX for a few hundreds bucks. To this day, my heart softens any time I see a Honda CRX in the 1987-1991 body.

1993 Honda Accord

After the CRX died, I bought a used 1993 Honda Accord. This car served me quite well until October 2007, when I bought my 2008 Honda Civic below. A single man, I enjoyed having two cars until June 2008, when I regretfully sold it because I needed the extra money.

2008 Honda Civic

2008 Honda Civic

My current everyday driving car in this galaxy gray metallic Honda Civic. This was my first experience buying a car from an auto dealership ever in my life. You can read my recollections here. :)

1964 Cadillac

1964 Cadillac

An investment and restoration project, I bought this 1964 Cadillac in 2008. Can you say midlife crisis? ;)

I named her Elma. She has 109,000 original miles and all in all, it isn't in bad shape. My website dedicated to the Cadillac is www.1964cadillac.com.


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