This post is to pay homage to my dear first car, 1971 Volvo 144 S. They say that you will never forget your first girlfriend/boyfriend and I like to say the same about my first car. I remember when I first got my power-wheels thinking how I’d be like my dad and getting to drive my own car. When I was growing up, I used to be my father’s right hand man when it came down to auto repairs, car washes, you name it. I was always there to help out with his cars. It was 1997, when my father was working his second job at an elderly care facility, he had come across a sweet lady that was asking if anyone wanted to purchase her Volvo. Like many people who go into an elderly care facility, they are unable to drive their car as they once did and she wanted to sell it to someone who would take great care of it. My father brought me to check out the classic Volvo over the weekend. I took one look at it and I fell in love with it. The Volvo wasn’t in the best condition and we could tell that the few dents that she had were from being unable to judge some corners. However, I didn’t care, the sight of the four door light grey sedan was something that felt special to me at that moment. Both my father and I loved it, so she offered us $700 and we took the deal. I remember I was so excited because he had told me that when I would finally be able to drive that it would be my car.
Flash forward to 2004, when I was taking my driver’s education class and preparing to take my driver’s test, I had told my father that it was time to bring her back to life. Of course, my father replied with, “Let’s get your license first, then we can get it started.” I knew it was going to take a while to get her started, since she had been sitting on our driveway from the time that we had gotten her from the previous owner, so I persisted. My persistence finally wore down my father, and little by little we began to get the Volvo ready for the road. Couple months went by, I aced my driver’s education class and was spending time getting ready for my driver’s test. After a few practices with the parallel parking, I took the test and knocked it out of the park. As silly as it might sound, I had gotten my driver’s license and I felt like my dreams had come true. As a 17-year-old kid, it was a big deal when I finally got my license. The days of asking your parents to drive you somewhere were over and the freedom of the open road had finally begun.
I remember taking pride in my vehicle because I had brought this car back to life. It had taken months to bring the Volvo back to life. I had told my dad that we needed to make sure that it’s safe and that it would run smoothly. We had started first by dropping the tank and getting it resealed. We then cleaned out the fuel lines, installed a new fuel pump, replaced the battery, put some oil in each cylinder, and put some fresh gas in the tank. The moment of truth was upon us and we were about to start her back up. Couple of pumps on the gas pedal and one pull of the choke for the carburetor, and she started right back up, the beast was ALIVE! With each month passing, we had done something new to the Volvo. My father had gotten on my case, because we could have bought a new vehicle at this rate instead of buying a used one. However, I was simply happy to have my own car and buying a brand new car was not an option as I was a broke high school student. I had seen many of my high school classmates with brand new cars, the hand me down from their parents, but I was proud that this classic 1971 Volvo was mine and it was running great. To others they would make fun of me to no end and called it a piece of trash but I didn’t care because it was my piece of trash. Hate or love it, at the end of the day I was a very happy teenager and felt like I had gotten valuable experiences and priceless memories with my father.
One of first memories of my Volvo was when I got a ticket for a loud exhaust. Sounds pretty silly to me. But the exhaust system of my Volvo was pretty shot and needed a new one. I decided I wanted to enhance the sound and performance of the vehicle. I had brought it to a custom exhaust shop in River Edge, New Jersey. I had really wanted to get a dual exhaust system since I wanted to make my Volvo fierce. I dropped off my Volvo and they asked me how loud I wanted it. I had persisted that I wanted it to be REAL LOUD! I got a little more than I bargained for. To other people who might have sounded like I was running straight exhaust with no muffler, but I indeed did have muffler in my Volvo. When I got the car back, it was VERY LOUD! I was pretty astounded at how BADASS the car had sounded, that I didn’t care how loud it was. A couple of weeks after I had gotten it done, I had been driving near the George Washington Bridge and had been cruising around at night-time. I was going up a hill and the exhaust sounded even louder than usual because it is revving higher to go up the hill. A cop pulled me over and told me that my exhaust was WAY TOO LOUD. I told him that I had just gotten a new exhaust and the car had just gotten inspected. He did not want to listen to word I said, he just kept telling me that it was too loud, and that if I wanted to fight it, I would have to bring it to court. And BAM, I had gotten myself a $50 dollar fine. My father was not happy and told me that I should have just to put on the regular exhaust. I knew I would run the risk, but I didn’t really think much about it. I simply didn’t care because I just wanted to enjoy my car and my creation.
Some other memories I know I will not forget is bringing my first girlfriend to many memorable dates together using this car. Even though we are not together anymore, I will always remember dreaming about the days I would get the opportunity to be able to take someone else that I cared about to a nice restaurant, movie, or something we could share together in my vehicle. I can remember one of the first times explaining in detail what made my car so special to me and why it didn’t have air conditioning, a radio, and even power windows. She appreciated me enough to enjoy this journey with this guy that loved his Volvo and didn’t care what anyone else thought. She knew that it was something special to me and that at the end of the day, it was a mode of transportation just like any other car. My Volvo brought me closer to things in life that I couldn’t have even imagined and that I am very grateful for.
As you can see the first vehicle is something that I will never forget. Everyone has a special story or memory that they can share with others that shows the depth of their relationship that they have built with their first car. I feel as though your first vehicle is probably the vehicle where you go through the most personal growth. I truly love the times that I have had with my Volvo and I still have her to this day. I plan to restore her so that others can enjoy and wonder what the story behind this Volvo was. She has never let me down mechanically and drives very well for something that is over 30 years old. With all the technology and changes that we have to our current and upcoming car models, there is something that brings you back to more simpler and meaningful time when you drive an older vehicle. From time to time, I enjoy bringing up stories that I have shared with her and I also enjoy bonding with others with their first car stories.
I have shared with you some memories I had with my first car. So it’s now its your turn. I love hearing from other fellow car enthusiasts! What was your first car? What was a special memory you shared with your vehicle? Do you still have the vehicle to this day? Anything else you would like to add? Feel free to comment and share your story with me!