What Is The First Car You Thought Was Cool?

Image: Ford Heritage Vault

One of the most important family activities for me growing up was the side-lot car show. I say important, because no matter where we were off to—seeing grandma, picking up dinner, and once, even a funeral—could all be waylaid once my dad spotted the “Car Show Today!” sign on the side of the road. A hard right turn, and suddenly my siblings and I were wandering rows of classic Detroit steel. My dad would then take a picture with each of the kids in front of their own personal “Best In Show.”

A girl in a pink shirt and black shorts holds a red balloon in front of a classic Ford Thunderbird

Your humble author in Southfield, Michigan in 1992

And that’s how my family ended up with eight or nine pictures of me standing awkwardly in front of Ford Thunderbirds of various hues. While the Thunderbird isn’t consider cool today—they aren’t the cars of anyone’s dreams anymore—for a seven-year-old kid, I couldn’t get over the chrome, the colors, even the tail fins! (Growing up in Detroit warps your mind when it comes to desirable cars.) To this day when I search for project cars I can cruise around Belle Isle in at 20 miles per hour, I spend a little time lingering over the Thunderbirds.

So I thought these cars were cool then, and I still think they’re kinda cool now (though there’s about a thousand cars I’d rather get than an old Ford Thunderbird.) You can’t help what you love when you’re a kid—something just grabs you and has you by the throat for life.

So what about you? What was your first automotive love?


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