QOTD: What Models Were on Your First Car Shopping List?

Image: 1989 Toyota Camry

Recall the days all those years ago (probably over a century for some of you), as the time approached for you to start driving. Some of you may have been prescribed a vehicle by the gift of a generous or perhaps spiteful relative. Others received a set stipend from the Bank of Parentus, while the rest worked at a low-end job to scrape up funds for an automotive purchase.

Today, we want to know what your aspirations were at the time; which vehicles did you desire and shop for as your first car?

Your author was shopping around for that cool high school ride in the very earliest part of the 2000s. Brand new cars all seemed to be going the oval route, but of course such expensive indulgences were off the table. I fell into the tertiary category listed in the first paragraph with regard to funding. Starting at 14, I worked as a cashier at the local Kroger, making almost no money per hour (minus union dues) while saving up for my eventual purchase when I obtained an Indiana learner’s permit.

I poked at my sore braces and looked through the Autotrader magazine made of actual paper whenever I had a spare moment. Ever practical in my selections, even my economic and middle-market sedan choices seemed just outside my $3,000 or so budget. Here are the old things that jumped off the thickly inked pages in the pre-Cash 4 Clunkers era.

Image: 1994 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic, circa ’93, seemed nearly attainable, economical, and cool. As I recall, most examples I saw were of the sedan variety, and pretty beat up. Still, they were out of my price range. But what about a smaller Honda, was that the ticket?

The Civic Del Sol was not a Civic to me, but rather a sporty coupe with a killer removable window arrangement. Though similar in age to the regular Civic versions, these were out of my price range, too. Worth noting, I also checked out a couple of Toyota Paseos, which were practically identical to me from a looks and functionality standpoint. No dice, they were rare on the ground and always in poor condition. Whatever, maybe a more boring sedan was in the cards.

Image: 1990 Toyota Camry V6 LE

Boom, a square-body Camry seemed possible (I’m loving this picture). Couldn’t find a sweet V6 like this one, though, and each one in price had a lot of miles, and had some sort of cosmetic malady. Maybe an even more boxy sedan could make things happen, with a bit of Euro flair.

Image: 1989 Volvo 760

I liked square sedans then, and I like them now. The 760 said luxury to me, and was a bit larger than the other options on my list. I remember driving one (which made some weird engine noises) and being impressed with the solidity on the inside. Again, hard to find in the Midwest at this time, it seemed a Swede was not in the cards. What about a German car though?

Image: 1986 Audi 5000S

Bingo. In the end, I purchased a light blue 1987 Audi 5000S automatic with the inline-five engine. It had something like 122,000 miles, and was in excellent cosmetic condition. The original owner let it go for $2,400 or thereabouts. It had electrical, climate, and power locks issues constantly, immediately needed a new water pump, and went through a radiator and a couple of trigger door handles. Bearing in mind I had it for just two years and drove it only to school, work, and around town, it wasn’t too great. Loved it anyway (and still love the looks), lifters ticking away as I drove to work. That car made me feel special.

What was your first car shopping list like?

[Images: Toyota, Honda, Volvo, Audi]