family · Mom · My Thoughts

Cars—Does One Rank As Your Favorite?

Hands on the steering wheel - cars

Cars—do you have a favorite one? I say 100% yes! I’ve loved two cars, especially, in my lifetime: my first one and my mom’s last one—two extraordinary adventures.

My First Car

1966 Dodge Coronet 440 - cars
1966 Dodge Coronet 440

            In 1971, Dad bought me my first car—a bluish-green 1966 Dodge Coronet 440—to go to college. He bought my brother a light blue 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 at the same time and paid $1000 for both cars. They don’t make cars like them anymore. The sleek lines of that Coronet 440 created a beautiful picture. I was 18 years old and felt like a queen driving that car. I had fun in it at Trinidad State Junior College, but my brother’s roommate borrowed it often for his dates, promising never to leave Trinidad. One night I was twenty miles away in Raton, New Mexico with friends and saw my car sail by. That ended the roommate’s use of my car.

            The mechanics at our garage thought my brother and I shared one car because the colors were so similar. They kidded me when I brought my car in to be serviced, saying, “Why don’t you make your brother bring it in?” Repeatedly I had to explain we each had our own car, and what’s funny is Dad bought the two cars from the owner of that garage.

            As lovely as that car was, it didn’t have air conditioning, so I used what Dad called “Larada’s air conditioning” in warm weather—rolled down all the windows, especially the wing window and drive like hell.

            In 1973, I took that car into my first marriage, still loving everything about it. Because the upholster inside was shot, we redid that, matching the color outside, and it really looked sharp. As newlyweds, we bought a 1974 Dodge Dart off the showroom floor in Trinidad, but that was my husband’s car.

Many years later, driving in Windsor, Colorado, I stopped at a light, and a guy pulled up beside me and offered me a sizeable sum for my striking car. I laughed off the offer—it wasn’t for sale!

Somehow, we inherited a dilapidated Ford from my ex-husband’s grandmother when she passed, and then we had too many vehicles. Without my permission and before I had any gumption to say anything, he sold my car. I was heartsick, but I didn’t stop him. The crushing blow came a few months later when we divorced, and he left me with that lousy Ford.

I have never connected with a car since my first one—maybe the young woman and the mystique of my first can’t be captured again.

Mom’s Last Car

Fast forward to 2004—Mom was coming home from the post office in our small rural town and got hit by a semi-truck, totaling the car she had. It did not hurt her, thank God, but this accident stranded her. Being fifty miles from the nearest grocery store, doctor and everything, she needed transportation, so we went searching.

We found a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu and a Toyota Camry in Raton, New Mexico, fifty miles away. She test-drove the Camry and because of her petite size, she couldn’t see over the steering wheel, so that took the Camry out of the running.

Mom and her Malibu in 2004 - cars
Mom and her Malibu in 2004

Both of us fell in love with the Malibu and what made it more enticing is the owner lived in Cimarron, New Mexico. I called his niece, and we talked to him to learn about the car—it was a good fit.

So, Mom bought it and we have had no trouble with it at all mechanically. She absolutely loved her car and drove it to Trinidad weekly for her shopping needs. Mom’s driving history fascinated me. She married my dad at twenty-three years old and didn’t know how to drive, so he taught her. While we were at home, she drove very little. As Dad aged, his inability to drive sometimes forced her to drive, but she didn’t enjoy it, especially when she had to take over the wheel in Santa Fe, New Mexico once. After Dad died, she had no choice, so she became proficient, not venturing farther than her safe trips to Trinidad or Raton

Mom and I enjoyed several trips to western destinations, ending up in California to visit my brother and his family. When we were together traveling down the road, I drove and we talked endlessly. On one major trip we took to California in 2009, we had the radio on once for our three-week trip. The rest of the time we spent talking and laughing. That car held so many precious memories of those special times with her.

After Mom died in 2013, I inherited her car and drove it back and forth to our family ranch monthly. After my last trip to Branson, the air conditioning stopped as I pulled into my home in New Mexico—absolutely nothing. A trip to our mechanic cost us a lot. See, we live in the mountains east of Albuquerque and we don’t have a garage to store it in. A squirrel built a nest in the engine and chewed up the cables to the air conditioning, so that costly adventure made us decide to sell it. Because we don’t have a garage, this costly event could happen again and again.

As I cleaned it out preparing for the sale, I choked up several times, reliving the trips, the fun, and the laughter we shared. Yesterday we sold it to the son of a dear lifelong friend. I cried when they drove off.

Yes, I know cars don’t last forever, but their memories do! I will always have the special times Mom looped her left arm over the back of my seat, laughing at whatever our topic was and enjoying our time together in her car.

Do you have cherished memories attached to any cars? Do or did you love a car? Tell me your memories—I’d love to hear them. (Scroll down below to the Comment section to respond.)


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2 thoughts on “Cars—Does One Rank As Your Favorite?

  1. My favorite memory is going to see the Buddy Holly Story at the drive in with my dad and my brother. We were little, so we and my dad fit into the pop top loft area of his yellow, 1978 VW microbus. We have other memories with that vehicle but that particular night was really special. We were both just old enough to appreciate most of what was going on in that film. My dad had as a kid grown up with Buddy Holly’s music. And yet there was more – there was something in the quality of our being together, as if nothing else in the world existed – your loving description of driving cross country with your mother reminded me of that.
    As to my own favorite vehicle, I would say it has to be my current car, the only one I ever bought in the same decade that it was made – in fact, I got it brand new (Subaru sedan, 2017 silver Legacy). But I do recall with much fondness the Love Bug I owned, an orange 1971 VW Bug. It was so cold in the winter with the very poorly functioning heat that my feet usually got numb, and when I owned it (1985-1988) its interior smelled like old decaying interior sometimes, but it was nonetheless what drove me around college and to my parents’ home and my college boyfriend’s parents’ home, and I have such happy memories of puttering around New England in it.
    Thanks for the great blog and very fun collective trip down our respective memory lanes, Larada!

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