July 31, 2021
By: Richard Roe

My First Car

> My first car, a 2000 Ford Mustang v6, was terrible - but I loved it.
Tags: mustang, my cars,

The War: Ford vs Chevy

I grew up in the southern United States - north-central Florida, nothing but swamps, farmland, and Publixes. There was a culture war being waged in my area as I grew up over who the best manufacturer of vehicles was: Chevy or Ford? Depending on your social circle, your choice of brand could elevate your status, or make you the butt of a number of jokes around the bonfire. Much like sports teams, the side you chose was purely arbitrary; my Grandfather drove a late 90's Ford F150, and so my choice was made based on that. Terms like "reliability," "performance," and "options" were almost four-letter words - as long as it could haul a trailer and drive through mud, the only things that mattered was the badge on the front, and the ego behind the wheel.

From Pigs to Ponies

Growing up in the south, there were plenty of opportunities for enterprising young people to LARP being a farmer, via the FFA. I joined when I was in middle school at 11, and somehow convinced my parents to finance building a pen and buying a pig. I raised that pig, showed that pig, and auctioned off that pig. I took the money I earned, invested it in another pig, and kept doing that to earn money. It wasn't the fastest way to build wealth, but it was a pretty fun learning experience. In the end, I approached 16 with a bit of cash, and after another small investment from my parents, I had enough money to buy my first car.

I need some Muscle

Muscles cars where I'm from are put on a pedestal - next to lifted trucks and four-wheelers. I wanted something cool, but I had a problem - I had about three grand to my name. So I spent a few weeks scouring Craigslist - and I was incredibly thorough, in the sense that I had absolutely zero knowledge about cars other than the name, color, and what my friends thought was cool. Still - it didn't matter to me, I was picky for the sake of it. No "sun-damaged F150" or "Mitsubishi Eclipse with a failing transmission" would be enough, so I waited. I spent about three months looking at everything I could find, when I finally saw it: a 2000 Ford Mustang v6, in red. It didn't matter that it was a 5-speed Standard, as my mom assured me she could teach me to drive it. I took every cent to my name, had my mom drive the car about 2 miles to test it, and performed an inpsection as deep as ensuring that the back seats were comfortable - and wrote the check.

The Car: Terrible, but Incredible

The Mustang - ft. Bunny

This thing was terrible - the driver's side door panel and mirror were held in place with literal hardware store screws, the inside rearview mirror fell off if you adjusted it, the windows would go down but rarely go back up, and the air conditioning had very strong opinions about how long it should need to work. There were paint scratches, random dents and dings, and large panels gaps - but I absolutely loved that car. It took about a week to learn to drive it at night before I was allowed to drive it to school, but I drove that car for years. It got me through my senior year of high school and all four years of college.


I genuinely thought it was the coolest car ever. I had no clue what sort of numbers it would put up. In my mind, it was a Mustang, it had a hood scoop, and it was red - so it had to be fast, right? I wasn't the only one, either. The Vice Principal of my high school approached me one day, and noted that I was now "riding with the wild horses," which was aabout the weirdest thing an adult man has ever said to me. It was even suggested that the superlative photo for "most likely to succeed" be taken on the hood of my car. Needless to say, I thought I was something.

The Journey

The car went through everything from accidentally popping curbs, to the brakes going out on the worst road in America during rush hour - a story I'll probably write up at some point. The best part is: I still own it. It hasn't been driven much in the last 4 years, it can't start without a jump, the paint on most of the body has almost entirely peeled off from sun damage, and the driver's side window has shattered - but I'll have it restored eventually. I didn't take much care of it, on paper it's not a great car, and it isn't worth more than a few hundred bucks - but it's my first car, the car that got me through school, the car I learned stick in - and I never want to get rid of it.