Of all the contributors here, I feel like my first car is easily the most predictable/stereotypical/obvious: a previously-enjoyed 1992 Honda Civic LX sedan. In black. With a (eventually quite worn) five-speed manual transmission, and steel wheel covers. And those weird headrests that were attached via a single anchor to the door-side seat shoulders.
The thing was so cheap, I had to install an aftermarket Alpine audio system just to get a clock.
Here’s the thing, though. That Alpine system was just so freaking cool; the radio faceplate was a) removable and b) would flip forward to reveal the CD loading bay. It could be set to numerous resting angles depending on the angle of the sun, to reduce glare. And you know what? I’ve driven many, many, many cars since then that could take a few notes with regard to glare reduction on their infotainment screens.
But I digress.
RELATED: My First Car
That faceplate (and the four speakers I got with it) was perfect because it just fit the theme of the car so well. The Civic remains one of the most tuned cars of all time, and while mine was almost as bone stock as you could get (it eventually got a new clutch and new exhaust—no, it was not a fart can), you still felt like you were driving if not a piece of car history, well, a piece of enthusiast tuner history, anyway.
I was so enamoured with the thing that long before the days of Adobe Photoshop and the infinitely-paintable cars in the Forza Motorsport video game franchise, I actually went to Microsoft Paint—Microsoft PAINT!!!—and did my best to draw the car in the manner I’d always dreamed. I kept the black basecoat, but added “HONDA” in red to the rear doors and fender panels à la Accord Touring Car of the era, as well as some “tuner” decals on the side. I even did my best MS-Paint rendition of OZ Superturismo wheels. Again, just like the Touring Cars of the era had.
Of course, being 18, my finances at the time only allowed a few light mods, even though I promised my little ol’ Civic that I would have her looking right at home on the Fast and Furious set any day now; there was that radio and the exhaust, plus the only visual additions that fit my budget: a pair of red “powered by Honda” seatbelt covers. Which were promptly stolen when my car was broken into, just like so many Civics of the era. To this day, I maintain that it was only broken into because of those freaking covers; I always removed my radio faceplate when I left the car, so it couldn’t have been that, and there was nothing else in there to take.
Oh, did I drive that car, though. By the time I was done with it, the clock read about 350,000 kilometres, and both my dad and I were certain that it drove just as it did when we’d first gotten it (it had less than 50K on the odo at the time) right up to the time we said goodbye.
Which means that it drove incredibly well; to this day, Honda has a knack for building great drivers’ cars (we’ll forget about the new models’ boring-as-cardboard continuously variable automatic transmissions for just a minute), and that ol’ Civ was a blast. The gearlever’s action was precise and equaled by the clutch’s bite-point (I’ve since driven the Civic’s S2000 sibling, and as far as I was concerned at the time, the transmission felt pretty similar), throttle response was as brisk as you could ask from the wheezy 1.5L, 102 hp four-banger and the steering and handling was magnificent, even with tiny 175-section tires.
Yes, the transmission wore over time, to the point getting from 2nd to 3rd without gnashing the cogs took some real finesse, but that was all there really was. No rust, no engine issues save for some moisture build up on the starter later in life, and no brake problems.
Even today, when I test my car’s descendants (I’ve driven every generation but one since), there’s still some of the old girl left; with the seating position, detailed steering feedback and the lightness of all the controls, I always feel like I’m coming home when I’m sat in a Civic.
God, I miss her.
Wheels.ca will take a journey back in time and ask our writers to tell us about their first cars and the memories that likely shaped who they are today. We will feature a new story every Thursday. #TBT.
We would also love to hear your first car experiences. Share them here firstname.lastname@example.org and Wheels.ca will publish the best ones. Links to previous stories below