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WINNER’S UPDATE – Question of the Week, With Special Guest swingandamiss


A big thank you to swingandamiss for sharing his piece, and to all of you who wrote in to share your stories, as well.

Our question this week was: what is your first memory involving a car?

We made a pot of coffee, read over all your comments, and found ourselves thankful that a good many of you hadn’t simply rolled away as children.

Our selection process often weights thumbs-up very heavily, but sometimes we choose to exercise our discretion and simply award the prize to the comment we liked most. That’s what we’ve done this week, since we loved his story so much. So congratulations to Spider_Mike, who wins this Question of the Week with this comment:

Congratulations Spider_Mike! Thankfully you lived to tell that tale, and for that we are happy to award you a $25 credit toward the purchase of a BaT hat or shirt!

But there were so many other great stories that deserved a nod. People’s Choice with 17 thumbs-up was this comment from sidewinder.

Memories aren’t always narrative, and sometimes that makes them even more powerful. That’s what we loved about these impressionistic comments from bam and roadkill.

Many of your stories demonstrated how lucky we are to have survived our own exploits. Stories about rolling off in cars kicked in to gear by curious youths were alarmingly common in the thread.


I think crashing my grandpa’s car into a wood pile at age 4 or 5 would have to be one of my first distinct memories. The scene is his Big Bear cabin. I am allowed to sit in the car, a ’57 Ford wagon, grasping the steering wheel to “pretend I was driving” (my favorite pastime). I remember pulling the column shift, which put the car in neutral apparently. Parking brake wasn’t set, and I rolled down the hill backwards until the car bumped into a big wood pile. I remember my mom’s face through the window following the car and me as we passed by. Car was fine, and everyone was so relieved I was OK that I didn’t even get in trouble. That same grandpa was the service manager at a Chevy dealer. From about age 5 he would bring me boxes of expired brochures when the new ones came in, and he would drive me around his neighborhood in a golf cart while I pointed out and named the parked cars. That exposure probably started my obsession with cars. RIP, grandpa.


One of my first memories involving a car was with my parent’s ’69 Camaro. The car was my mom’s daily driver while my Dad drove the Pinto to work. I was in the back seat behind my mom who was in the driver’s seat. I was standing behind the driver’s seat hanging my head out the driver’s side window when my mom started to roll the window up. I tried to pull my head back in but didn’t do it quite fast enough. I stood up on the back seat trying to lift my body as the window went up. The window ended up closing on my left cheek lol. Can’t remember what I did to get my mom’s attention but she glanced over her shoulder and saw my face right in front of hers. We immediately pulled over and she was pretty angry because I didn’t stay in my seat like she told me to do.


When I was a young boy, back around 1968 or so, my mom owned a 1930’s MG K3. One nice summer weekend we trailered it to a car show. Unloaded the car and fired it up. My dad then drove it around to where it would be parked for the day. At that point, I walked right up to it and put both hands on the very hot side exhaust pipe! For some reason, I can recall saying: “Well, what now?” The answer, of course, is to now rush a screaming 4 year old to the medical building for severe burn treatment… I have photos from that day, both before and after the incident. Later, when I started my first day of nursery school that fall, I did so with both hands fully wrapped in bandages, like white mittens. I can still remember what my hands looked like as my mom replaced my bandages each day. I’ll spare you the gory details of that part, but suffice to say, they were a frightening mess.

And sometimes we were lucky to have survived the exploits of our caretakers.


Another early memory was the Road Trip with my dad , mom , aunt and older cousin in our 58 Ford Country Station Wagon. It was the summer of 1960 and we were going to St. Simons Island. My dad stopped on the way in Fitzgerald Georgia to pick up my aunt and cousin who was around 10. I was around eight. My cousin and. I were riding in the back of the station wagon and my dad stopped for gas out in the middle of nowhere in South Georgia. We got out for a restroom break and I was last to go to the restroom. When I got out there was no station wagon insight. The good old boys at the gas station did not know what to say? Of course I was crying and they gave me a Dr. Pepper with some peanuts in it. They kept saying that I am sure they will comeback for you but after two hours they started talking about calling the local sheriff. I thought that I would never see my patients again and started crying again. About the time the Sheriff arrived here comes that baby blue Ford Station Wagon. I have never been happier to see a car pull up. Now my dad was visibly shaken, my mom was crying and my aunt was yelling at my cousin. The Sheriff asked my dad why did you abandon your son like that? Well he explained that when he asked if everyone was back in the car that my cousin had said yes. A 100 miles down the road my mom said I have not heard a peep out of Jimmy. Then everyone realized I was not on board. We resumed our trip and made it to St. Simons. My cousin had to sit in his room and did not get to see the beach for most of the trip. You know we never did another road trip with my aunt or cousin again.


My first memory of a car was my grandparent’s 54 Plymouth at age 3. I’m still seeking therapy for it 68 years later. I was left with them for a few days to give my parent a break from young trusted_one and his terrible 3’s! They lived in Pierre, SD which has to be the smallest most boring capital city of any state in America. My Gramps, Philo, had coke bottle lens glasses and could see only slightly better than Stevie Wonder. My Grandma, Emma was near deaf without her hearing aids which she was too vain to wear most times. I vividly remember being in the back seat (no seat belt of course) going to the Red Owl grocery store. Luckily, there was only one stop sign on the short drive there (only one stop light in the entire town, also!) Gramps rolled up to the stop sign and over the curb, knocking the external window air cooler into the stop sign. Halfway out into the intersection, he yells, “Emma, do you see any cars coming?” She replies, oblivious to the dangling window air conditioner, “what Philo – whadja say?” I dove for the floor in the hopes the huge Dolly Parton like front bumpers and tank like sheet metal might save my life! He swerved to avoid an oncoming car, went up onto the sidewalk and a tree branch ripped off that big, ugly, external green front windshield sun visor. He drove back unto the street, totally unaware of the missing visor. “They need to fix the potholes – these streets are very bumpy” he said. “Whadja say, Philo?” I think they pulled his license a few weeks later when he totally blew his vision test!

And finally, we loved this collection of memories – the kind that could only come from a child’s mind.


My dad came to visit me in the hospital when I was three. He brought me a 1/24 scale Triumph TR2 I loved that toy. I’m sure it helped with the terror and confusion of why I was there. Didn’t ever own a Triumph. But I loved his later stories of taking his MG1100 sports sedan out to the cloverleaf near Moffett Field and racing his coworker who had a Sunbeam Tiger. He explained that he could easily out corner the Tiger as he could put all 55 horsepower on the ground, versus the spinning wheels of the “overpowered” Tiger. I got the education of its more fun to drive a slow car fast. Being the dutiful son I love driving my Tiger!


When I was a small kid, our family car was a second hand (yeah right, seventh hand) Lada station wagon that was red only by name.

I distinctly remember that car. Well, not so much the car itself as that tire blowout on a narrow road banked by ditches. Or that second hand (…) couch we were transporting on its roof which came sliding down the front windscreen while driving, as apparently that car was unable to beat the tailwind. Or that time that the “oil” warning light came on to tell us that the engine would totally seize then and there on the highway within two seconds. We needed to put in a new (………….) engine after that one.

I don’t remember what lead to us replacing the car but at least it didn’t claim any lives. In any case, our misadventures with that once-red Lada were more than enough for a convinced “never again!” decision. We replaced it with a white Lada.


I already commented on my earliest auto related memory (which is pretty much my earliest, period), but it got me pondering what my earliest memory of a specific car was. You’d think I’d have plenty, but mostly they’re fleeting and sparse before the age of about five. Vague images of the push buttons on the Chrysler dash, the back seat floor-board of the Comet and being spooked by the enormity of a passing tractor trailer. The earliest strong and clear memory of one specific car, though, was from when I was 4 or 5 leaving a laundromat with my Mom. As soon as we stepped outside I saw it big as life, front and center, staring at me with those 4 cat eyes. A shiny, new, bright red 1964 Thunderbird Coupe with chrome wheels. I was transfixed, couldn’t move! Mom was already at the Comet loading the bags of clean cloths when she realized I was still glued to the side-walk fixated on the T-Bird. She walked back, realized I was processing and asked if I was ready to go home. I had already started drawing cars, so I told her I couldn’t leave until I’d looked at it from every angle so I could remember it when I got home. It probably took no more than 5 minutes, but in my mind it seems we spent an hour with her holding my hand as I methodically stood and absorbed that spectacular machine from every possible angle. Drawing cars became a serious avocation of mine for the next 20 years and something I’ve recently delved back into and to this day a red T-Bird sends me reeling back 57 years to that very special moment with my Mom.

We’ll close with this tale from sludgo that demonstrates just how slippery memory can be.

On a recent visit, the Beehive and I got chatting about the cars the sludgo family stables had held over the years and when I told her I still had fond snapshot memories of the dark blue Rambler station wagon we had when I was really little she looked at me like I was from Planet Xantron. Completely denied any knowledge of any such vehicle, even when I reminded her that one of the things I remembered most clearly was how the garage filled up with thick blue smoke when she’d warm it up in the wintertime to take me and Big Sis over to Grandma’s in the mornings before she went to work. Nope. Never remembered us having a Rambler, sludge.


That’s it for our special Question of the Week with swingandamiss.  Thanks again to everyone who contributed! We’ll be back with this week’s question tomorrow.


It’s time once again for Question of the Week! Leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be automatically entered to win BaT merchandise. Our favorite answer each week gets a $25 hat or t-shirt from the BaT Gear Store.

This week’s question is: what is your first memory involving a car?

It was inspired by BaT member swingandamiss, who like many of you has been a gearhead since he was in diapers, and wrote this piece to tell us about the very dramatic moment that a specific automobile lodged itself in his conscious memory for the very first time.

He writes:

Mom used to tell me that, at the age of three, I would toddle out to the street and watch the cars go by. I scared her all too often, as we lived on a very busy street where traffic traveled at 40 miles per hour or faster – clearly NOT the place for a three-year-old. One time, a passerby stopped and walked me back to my house fearing I was going to get hit. I don’t remember any of this, though I was apparently undeterred and it happened over and over again; mom couldn’t find me, and she’d go looking out by the street. By the time I was four, I’m told, I could identify most of those cars whizzing by. To this day, I remember the cars people drive better than I remember their names. It’s either a curse or my gift, depending on the audience. Tell me what kind of car you drive, I will remember it. Early in my marriage, I would read Hemmings in bed, something my wife Jessica compared to reading the phone book.

WINNER'S UPDATE – Question of the Week, With Special Guest swingandamiss

But this story is about the first direct encounter with a car that I myself can remember – the point at which the objects of my obsession entered my conscious memory. Dad’s company car for the better part of the 1960s was a 1960 Chevy Brookwood wagon. His daily commute was 90 miles, round trip, so he went through cars quickly. When he was issued a new model in 1966, the Brookwood became my mom’s family hauler. We had a big family – 10 kids – so it was most likely ours was the nine-passenger version (unless some of us were riding atop the roof), though my counting skills were probably shaky at that young age. What I do remember clearly is that it was blue with a blue and white interior. According to the Chevrolet color charts of the era, that color was called Brigade Blue. I don’t actually remember riding in it, but the car had a presence that made a huge impact on me, quite literally.

WINNER'S UPDATE – Question of the Week, With Special Guest swingandamiss

On this particular day, my oldest sister had just passed her learner’s permit test and was going to take me for a ride. I was excited. Rides with mom were boring; I couldn’t listen to my music – even worse, she liked news radio! So driving with my sister was a Big Deal and I relished the moment. She liked The Beatles, Cream, Fifth Dimension, The Hollies, all the cool stuff I still love today. I ran out of the house with the charging enthusiasm that only a four-year-old can muster, turned the corner toward the car, and something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Before I could figure out what it was – WHAM! I hit the back of the Brookwood face-first at full speed. Now, the 1960 Chevy Brookwood was, as wagons go, a stylish vehicle. Its evolved design lacked the dramatic fins of late 1950s American iron, but these styling cues hadn’t yet been exorcised fully. The fins had shrunk and flattened, and in the case of the Brookwood, they had been turned out along the beltline of the car at such an angle that they could catch a speeding four-year-old right across the bridge of the nose. And that’s exactly what happened. I remember it clearly. Fin met face, and I was confronted with an experience of sudden, searing pain – something nothing in my short life had prepared me for up to that point.

WINNER'S UPDATE – Question of the Week, With Special Guest swingandamiss

And that’s more or less where the tape ends, for me. The rest of the story has been recounted to me by family members over the years. I had shattered my nose. There was blood, lots of it, and a torn lip that I still have a scar from. We drove to the hospital in the offending Brookwood (I am sure it was mom doing the driving and I’d bet the house she had on the news station). My nose was reset by the doctor, though I have absolutely no memory of that either. Interestingly, the thing I remember clearly is that Brigade Blue Brookwood wagon. And though this memory is steeped in pain, in my mind the car itself stands apart from that experience as something I was fascinated by and found beautiful. I could not have defined the word at the time or understood its implications, but it was love! So even though I was the clear loser in that encounter, I prefer to think of it as a draw. When I see a Brookwood of that vintage today, all I feel is fondness and a desperate desire to own and experience one again. Just, you know, not with my face.

Our question, once again, is: what is your first memory involving a car?

Nominate your favorites in the comments, and give a thumbs-up to any other nominations you deem worthy. We’ll announce the winner later this week.


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