First car has special spot in my heart

I'll never forget the curves on my very first.

Her lines were classic as they curved toward her backside. She was dark green with supple vinyl upholstery and eight-track quadraphonic stereo.

After reading a recent story in one of the local papers about people's first car, I was feeling a little left out so here's my story about my first vehicle.

The first vehicle I drove after I got my driver's license was a 1967 Chevy pickup that was an extra vehicle my dad kept to chase parts, haul diesel or whatever. Not long before I got my license a drunk plowed into the bed of that truck and mashed in both sides after pushing it into another vehicle. I hated it and wanted my own car as soon as possible.

I had money saved up from my paper route, I just needed to find the right vehicle. I didn't move fast enough because my dad had a car located before I had a chance. I was a little skeptical about what he might be setting me up with until we got down to the car dealership.

I'd been looking for a Camaro or a Mustang but the 1968 Ford Fairlane 500 Fastback wasn't bad and it fit my budget better than what I had turned up so far.

I was free. My own car keys, my own car, which I later learned could still be taken away in my family when you broke the rules, even if I did pay for the car and the gas.

The little 302 engine wouldn't outrun too many other cars in a full quarter mile but I could really worry 'em for the first half of that distance because it was light and quick.

Cruising the drag was our way of life in high school and this car did it well. It also worked well on paper routes, rabbit hunting, fishing trips and games of "Ditch 'em."

I took it on my first date. I drove it with too many people stuffed inside and always too fast. Then I still drove it in town after I boughtmy first pickup, a 1956 Chevy.

I polished that car with rubbing compound and Turtle Wax until I pretty much rubbed the paint off the hood. I had put a tape deck under the dash and ran speaker wire all over the place. Then when the CB radio craze hit I slapped an 8-foot whip antennae to the bumper, found a place to hang a radio under that dash and ran even more wires.

It was single exhaust but it had a glass-pack muffler so it didn't sound too bad after we did a valve job on it. My mom and dad referred to it as a beer can, comparing it to the larger vehicles of the day. That hurt a little because I loved that car.

I finally sold it just prior to accumulating three vehicles of my own by the time I was in college but even though I got what I paid for it back, it was a bittersweet parting.

Later I vowed I would someday find another Fairlane like it and fix it up right. I have rarely ever seen one in the last 30 years but I saw one just the other day as we drove through Tularosa. I circled back after I saw it to show it to my wife but it was really rough. A quick assessment in my head of what I would be facing to fix it up put me back on the highway without ever getting out I daydreamed of my first car the rest of the trip.

Karl Terry, a former publisher of the Quay County Sun, writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

karlterry@yucca.net

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