Did the cars of your childhood influence the automotive enthusiast you’ve become? Mine were so terrible that it probably influenced me to strive for things more unique and exciting.
The first car I remember was red like the above example, but it was actually a sedan. It was a second generation Mercury Comet. Some of my first memories were inside one of these. I had difficulty remembering what it looked like, other than red, sedan, and kinda funky. I thought for years it was an AMC Eagle, but my uncle who’d given it to my mother enlightened me about its true identity.
I remember riding on the front seat, unable to see anything other than sky. The transmission eventually lost the reverse gear and I’d ‘help’ push it out of parking stalls. Parking afterwards became tricky. Nothing pulling through stalls couldn’t solve.
This was the first car I think my mother actually liked. I remember ours being AWD and that being a BIG deal as we lived in an area that actually got snow. Snow it did one year, at the ripe age of five years old, we got around three feet - quite out of the norm.
I always thought this was a strange little car. It felt cheap, and the fact the spare tire was under the hood seemed like an afterthought. I mean how many cars have the spare under the hood?! This remained in service until our family started making a little more money to get out of subsidized housing.
Once my step-dad came into the picture he bought this - a Ranger. I spent many, many hours inside this truck into my teens and even 20s. It was the primary road trip vehicle. Anyone who has ever sat in the back of one of these for more than an hour has had a crick in the neck ever since.
The rear seats are ‘jump seats’ that pull out from the side. As a kid it was fun to look right at your buddy in the seat in front of you. Nowadays, it’s amazing this was ever legally fitted to any vehicle. It seems like a death trap.
The pictured truck was eventually hauled off to a scrap yard after nearly 300,000 miles, around 100 cords of wood hauled, and around 15 years running around the Truckee/Donner Summit area. Amazingly it had very little rust for all the snow filled work days it saw. People might talk a little smack about Ford, but my experience was nothing short of positive. I can still hear the power steering whine from one of these a mile away...
What a pile of garbage. This thing didn’t do much well. It may have gotten decent fuel milage, but it was tiny inside when compared to its exterior size. The rear seats weren’t much of an improvement over the Ranger - at least the Ranger had quirks to its poor seating position!
The Chic-Mystique as it ended up being called was even my high school ride, temporarily. It ended up having one perk - front wheel drive. There is a delinquent activity known as ‘tray driving’ where plastic food trays can be placed beneath the rear wheels with the e-brake pulled. With the rear tires on make-shift-tray-skids, it provides minutes of rear end sliding fun. A mere minutes before the tray is ground through and a tire slides off...
The Ranger was eventually side lined to a secondary vehicle for I-80 pass duties. The Suburban took its spot and lasted around 10 years. The paint started to chip off, it rusted far faster, the brakes were the size of milk bottle caps, and the drivetrain was anemic and fragile. Granted this thing was driven HARD, it didn’t last much like the Ranger had.
We all have our experiences with the Chevy/Ford/Dodge argument. I can say that the Ford was a better vehicle of the late 80s-early 90s era in my humble opinion and this GMC is exactly why I believe it.
Now you might be wondering what was my favorite? The Ranger by far. I almost saved it from the scrap heap. However, it was left outside with the windows cracked - leading to too much mold inside to tackle. The same exact truck in good condition is worth around $4,000 on a good day. Far cheaper to find another one then restore my childhood, crashed, moldy version.
What were your childhood cars?! Hopefully they were better than mine...