My very first car was cheap as in it was given to me. I lived in Alabama at the time, and in those days, for some reason, the car’s value had to be listed as something, so the relative who handed the vehicle off to me gave me a sales slip for $300 in cash and “other considerations.” It was a well-worn 1957 Chevrolet, with 3-speed manual transmission and an AM radio. Forget about air conditioning, and forget about the car for that matter. After a few weeks, it just wouldn’t start. After getting an estimate from a repair shop, a real breath-stopper, I decided to buy my very first new car, a yellow 1967 Opel Kadett, imported from Germany by Buick. The decision was made out of necessity. I didn’t have much in the way of a credit rating, but the local Buick dealer was able to sell the paper to a bank.
The price was approximately $2,100. Payments were $50 a month. The sole option was an add-on AM radio, installed in a slot below the dash with readily accessible controls. The car lasted a few years, until replaced with a turquoise blue Toyota Corona. That car had a built in AM radio.
A few years passed before I upgraded to a blue 1976 Buick Skylark hatchback with white vinyl roof and — get this — white leather seats. I never could keep them clean, so I wonder why I made such a foolish decision. But it had air conditioning, an AM/FM radio, and an automatic transmission. I was in the lap of luxury.