The First Car I Ever Drove
I learned how to drive in a 1985 Pontiac Fiero. In the 1980s, my father worked for a vender to General Motors. He spent many days working in vehicle plants. One day, he came home and could not stop talking about this little two-seater that men were driving around in the plant. The car was just a shell, with roll bars and an engine, but no body panels. It turned out to be a Pontiac Fiero.
In 1985, my father bought a red and black Pontiac Fiero as a “fun car.” He had a cement slab added to the side of our driveway as a parking spot for this little gem while the daily drivers got the spots inside of the garage. I was 14 years old and I thought that car was the coolest thing I had ever seen. We always had nice cars; that same year, my mom had a Buick Riviera, which was a great car in the mid-1980s. (The following year, she got a Chevy Camaro IROC Z).
As a teen in the 1980s, I wanted to learn to drive and I wanted a car. Since we always had nice cars, I wanted one, too. When I was given the opportunity to drive that Pontiac Fiero, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My dad took me to my high school parking lot and let me drive. I doubt I went any faster than 20 miles per hour, but that first spin was memorable. I fit perfectly in the tiny cockpit of the car and the steering wheel seemed to be designed just for my hands. The car still had the headrest speakers, so I got to listen to my favorite radio station while I drove in circles around the parking lot.
I loved the fact that car had the spoiler in the back and the pop-up headlights in the front. We had never had a car with pop-up headlights and I remember the small motor noise when the headlights popped up. The car was so well designed that the rear spoiler was not blocking the view outside of the small rear window. The engine in the back seemed to roar with joy, even though I barely took the car out of second gear.
The Pontiac Fiero has truly influenced the cars that I have owned as an adult. I have been the proud owner of a 1989 Honda CRX, a pair of early 90’s Honda Civic Si cars, a 1993 and 1999 Mazda Miata, and a 2008 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. There is something about a small car.