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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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16 comments

Open Diff: First Cars

Posted October 19, 2016 9:00 AM by dstrohl

Cursed with a passion for automobiles from birth, the countdown to my first car began years before I earned a driver’s license. Used cars came and went through our family garage, and at one point it appeared that my first would be an ex-Virginia State Police Plymouth Fury (too big and thirsty for traffic-choked Bergen County, New Jersey) or a base-model two-door 1974 Chevy Nova with a blown engine. I wanted to drop a V-8 between the fenders, but my dad held firm on replacing it with another 250-cu.in. six, so we never came to terms on the tired X-body. Then, a friend’s parents announced they were trading in a six-year-old Plymouth on a new car, and opportunity knocked.

I’ve shot thousands (and probably tens of thousands) of car photos over the decades, so it’s truly ironic that I don’t have a single picture of my first car. It was a 1976 Plymouth Arrow 160, with a four-speed manual transmission, finished in red with a white hockey stick stripe down the side. Despite its relatively new status (even by early-1980s standards), the Mitsubishi-built captive import had already racked up over 100,000 highway miles, so the dealership was only offering $650 in trade-in value. I countered with $700, and a handshake later, I’d purchased my first car.

What was you first car, and how did you two meet?

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#1

Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/19/2016 7:21 PM

I don't have a picture of my first one either, but if I did it would have looked a lot like this one ('71 CL175) except with a luggage rack on the back. I bought it from my older brother for $175 back in 1978.

Ahhhh, the heady days of teenagerdom, when a set of wheels, no matter how ratty or dorky, was the ticket to freedom. I had a milk crate strapped to the luggage rack to hold books or whatever else junk I wanted to carry.

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#6
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 9:34 AM

Mine was the 72 CB350. I completely rebuilt it and modified it and it topped out at 120MPH. Longer swing arm, CL headers (Hooker), high-perf shocks, aluminum alloy rims, (I did the respoking too), bored out to 365 from 325, CB450 carbs (piston type CV Kehin), etc.

I raced it on the street against 550's and whooped 'em!

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#7
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 11:42 AM

You did some serious work on your CB350. Those were popular bikes back then because they were fast enough for decent highway running, yet a lot less money than the four-cylinder bikes. I saved my mods for when I bought a 1970 CB750 a year later. I put 10,000 miles in one year on that CL175. Slow as crap but you couldn't kill it. I think it topped out at 70. I rode it around in the snow too. Put a trials tire on the rear and and it was a gas sliding sideways around corners in the snow. Low seat height, low power, and light weight made that all possible.

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#11
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 7:35 PM

What happened to the CB750? That is STILL a great bike! I had a 76 550F That I fixed up too, but my first love and daily rider was the 350.

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#12
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/21/2016 1:40 PM

I think my oldest brother might still have the CB750. It started with him, then he bought a Sportster. My second oldest brother owned it for about 8 or 9 years and then sold it to me. I had it from 1979 until 1984 when I sold it back to my oldest brother and he's had it ever since. When I went into the Army, I had to whittle down my bikes to one and the '83 Interceptor went with me.

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#15
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/22/2016 3:32 PM

My first full size motorcycle, 1973 CB 350 Four. I bought it used in 1980 for $450.00. it had about 2000 miles on it.

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#2

Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/19/2016 8:40 PM

My first cars were both 1940 Fords. My brother's girlfriend's brother had them and needed a place to store them.

One ran and one didn't. The one that didn't looked exactly like this⇓, same color and had a perfeact cloth interior.

The one that did looked like this in primer rough, but it ran. I drove it for a year without a license plate. It was a ball.

The flathead V-8s had an oil fitting running out the top of the block with a 1/4" (I think) copper tube coming out of it. One day, driving full throttle down the highway, that fitting broke and sprayed the windshield with black oil, blinding me. No tools,no phone deserted country highway, I drove a pencil into the fitting with a rock, wiped the windshield with a newspaper and made it home.

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#3

Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 12:18 AM

This is a picture of my first car, well not actually a car, but my first ride.

1977 Honda Mini Trail 70.

I paid $453.25 for it. I bought it at Whittier Honda.

I was in 10th grade.

Every other guy in school had some type of moped, Motobecane, Garelli, Puch, etc. Almost everyone who had a moped, paid anywhere from $6-800.00 for their machines.

When I brought it to school, every one laughed at me.

The guys with the big motorcycles wouldn't let me park in their area and the moped guys wouldn't let me park in their area either.

One day, the guy with the hottest hopped up moped challenged me to a race down Trojan way.

Now I admit, because of the CT 70 gearing it was slow off the line ( although because of the high torque and low end grunt it would climb a 60* grade like a tractor) but once it climbed in 2nd & 3rd gear, it would roar like a race horse, albeit a little race horse.

Needless to say, before the end of the 1/2 mile, my mini trail was flying along at 55mph and that moped was a distant glimmer in my reat view mirror.

Before the bike finally died, I had put 36,000 miles on the clock, after having driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back twice and to Lake Tahoe and back once.

Amongst other shorter trips here and there.

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#8
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 11:50 AM

36,000 miles on a CT70? Wow! That's serious dedication. You meet the nicest people on a Honda.

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#9
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 2:54 PM

I had a similar bike when I was thirteen. Christmas morning after begging for a dirt bike picture jumping/motocross, I get this (not my actual bike):

used. I about cried. I was so disappointed. My parents describe it as so overwhelmed with joy that I was stunned speechless.

It turned out to be pretty cool as it was street legal (though I wasn't at 13) I could go 70mph and it even had cradles to carry it on a car bumper that made it tolerable to spend a couple months at grandma's in a Dolan Springs, AZ trailer park.

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#4

Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 1:16 AM

Here's my first car 1973 Ford LTD Brougham Gold Metallic with Black Vinyl top. My friend and I paid $200 ($100 each) for the car. The car had a 351 2 bbl Windsor V8 with a three speed automatic transmission. It had crank up windows, manual door locks, no radio, air conditioning (that worked). It also had an open differential, so it would lay a single stripe down the street when we put it in reverse, floored it and then threw it in low one.

The tranny started to slip after a thousand miles or so. We learned that we shouldn't do that anymore.

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#5

Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 4:49 AM

My first car was an Austin 8 tourer (rag top ) It cost me $40. The floor was a thick rubber mat as the metal had rusted away. The brakes were mechanical on the rear only. No form of indicators. You stuck your arm out of a flap in the side window. No mod cons like heating, radio, synchro gears etc.

I too didn't get a photo of this one, or my next one, a Renault Fregate. Wish i had.

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#16
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

06/28/2022 6:32 PM

I have now found a picture of the Fregate after i replaced the fat bumpers with steel rod. I also removed all of the vertical bars in the grill, polished the aluminium side stripes and repainted it.

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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/20/2016 4:17 PM

When I got my drivers licence in 1963, my grandfather gave me his 1953 Hudson Hornet, "The Golden Hud" as it was painted and came to be known. As Hudson had gone out of business some years before, the car had no trade in value.

For me, a kid in high school, it was the perfect car. It was huge and built like a tank. It and I survived the minor accidents that I inevitably got into, and survive all the abuse that only a teenager could give it. It had enough room to carry all my friends, and a roomy back seat where I lost "my cherry".

The down side was that it was the only Hudson in that part of New Hampshire, and every police officer in the area recognized it on site.

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#13

Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/22/2016 2:56 PM

My first car was a 1952 MG-TD followed by a 1959 VW Karmann Ghia and a 1962, 23 window VW micro bus with sunroof. Due to a lack of foresight, I no longer own these cars. Although not in the million dollar category, they do bring high prices when restored.

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#14
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Re: Open Diff: First Cars

10/22/2016 3:23 PM

My first car almost looked like this : A 1967 Type ll . It came from Linn, Iowa. I paid $400.00 for it. I had it almost completely restored. I moved with a friend to an apartment and put the van into a storage facility. One day the owner of the facility called me up and said I needed to come and pick up my car, when I got there, what was left of the van was sitting on blocks, all that was left was an empty shell. I almost cried. I drove away and never looked back.

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