My First Car – 1982 VW Rabbit
She was perfect. A 1982 light blue, four door, Volkswagen Rabbit hatchback. I immediately named her Lucky.
In the late nineties I moved to Hollywood to pursue my dream of acting. Everyone told me I definitely needed a car for transportation in Los Angeles but I insisted I would find other ways. At the time there was no subway system so I was stuck with the challenging Metro Bus system. The buses were unreliable, not always safe, and packed with eccentric and sometimes crazy people. Once on the Santa Monica bus line I was heading home from work when a passenger yelled, “Driver! She has a gun in her bag!” I timidly looked up to try and see the criminal with the gun only to realize the yelling woman was pointing directly at me! Fortunately the regular bus passengers were used to her erratic behavior so it didn’t take much convincing that I didn’t possess a concealed weapon.
After a year a struggling on the bus and begging other actors to drive me home from auditions and movie shoots I saved up some money. It was finally time for my first car. I had an Ontario drivers license but needed my California license and a friend loaned me a car for the test. I passed.
My boyfriend knew a lot about cars and helped me search. We found a used car in the newspaper and it was love at first sight. (For the car, not the guy). For $500 cash I got myself an adorable Rabbit. She was perfect! A 1982 light blue, four door, Volkswagen Rabbit hatchback. I immediately named her Lucky.
Like many people in Hollywood in the nineties, Lucky had a few issues. For starters, her heater didn’t work. Now you might think it’s hot in LA and no heat is needed, but that’s not true. Driving at night in the colder months it was freezing. I wore multiple layers and kept blankets in the back seat. Lucky’s front door on the driver side didn’t always work, so getting in through the passenger side and crawling over the seats became normal.
Lucky’s original owner told me her radio was broken. But she lived up to her name when driving along Fairfax Avenue over a pothole there was a loud thump and suddenly her radio came on. It continued to work years later so I always drove along Hollywood Blvd singing.
Apparently many cars were stolen in those days so I was advised to put a lock on the steering wheel. I got one of those “Club” style locks that opens with a key for 15 dollars. I felt like a secret agent.
Since it was my first car I had never pumped gas. I was so nervous that I only used full service stations for the first few months. When I finally worked up the nerve to pump my own gas it was awesome. I even took Lucky for manual car washes. You know, where you insert a few coins and have access to soap, water, and an out of control power hose. I was always more soaked than my car in the end.
Lucky was very moody, and sometimes for no reason at all she just wouldn’t start. But it wasn’t her fault; she was obviously tired. On her weary days I took the bus so she could rest. But magically, without ever taking her in for repair, the next day she would start working. Yes, very lucky indeed.
My boyfriend taught me how to check the oil and I felt like a car mechanic on a mission. Sometimes I would check it just for fun. I decorated Lucky’s bumper with a “Don’t Wear Fur” sticker and a stuffed toy cat lived on the dashboard. I was rockin’ my first car.
Most days I didn’t drive too far since Lucky got tired easily and I didn’t want to get stranded among the palm trees. But one day my boyfriend thought it would be fun to head down to Malibu and take my car, not his, so I could finally be comfortable driving on the winding roads. Los Angeles is home to so many beautiful mountains and many roads like Laurel Canyon Blvd and Mulholland Drive that go straight up and twist around and around on the edge of a cliff.
The Pacific Coast Highway is world famous and became my first road trip. It was utterly terrifying. But once I started to trust Lucky more and she showed me how she could hug the twists and turns like the zooming sports car she felt like inside, I rolled down the manual windows and couldn’t stop smiling.
The salty ocean air, the view of the sandy shore, and the sense of freedom I felt to be driving on the cliff was the best road trip of my life.
Lucky’s luck never stopped. When I left Hollywood a few years later to move back to Toronto I sold Lucky for $ 750 dollars. Yes, that’s $250 dollars more than I paid for her.
Photo by Miriam Porter
Wheels.ca will take a journey back in time and ask our writers to tell us about their first cars and the memories and events that likely shaped who they are today. We will feature a new story every Thursday. #TBT
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