GNCU Staff Share Unmuffled Stories of Their First Car

Hot August Nights is one of the biggest classic car shows in the country, celebrating America’s automotive history and the mechanical beauty of these vintage street rods.   

To celebrate Hot August Nights, we asked Greater Nevada employees about their experiences with their first cars. From clunkers to classics, these vehicles made a lasting impression on their drivers. You’ve got shotgun, so let’s take a ride down memory lane.

Mark Y.

First Car: Ford – Gran Torino Sport

I got my first car back in 1986. I bought it from my father-in-law for $300. After giving him $300 and a handshake, he gave me the “KEY.” It was a big flathead screwdriver. He mentioned, “This ignition key also opens the trunk too, don’t lose it.”

It didn’t take us long to pack up the car in Nevada and head to New Mexico for college. It took us through 4 years of college, numerous trips from New Mexico to Nevada, racing other cars on weekends, and I was an “Uber” driver during our college days for friends. It was a party car! I miss my ‘73 Ford Gran Torino. Her name was “Mlo Yllo” (Mello Yellow).

Summerlin N.

First Car: Nissan – 350Z

My first car was a stick shift sports car that I named The Titanium Tarantula. My dad spent six months trying to teach me how to drive it, and it always ended in a yelling match. One time I even walked home because all he ever said was, “Let off the clutch slowly while you press the accelerator.” Extremely unhelpful, and I do not recommend parents teaching their children how to drive stick. My brother came home from college and taught me in one day. I was so proud of that car, and I’m still proud to say that I was the only person in my family to not get a speeding ticket driving it!

James A.

First Car: Dodge – Challenger

In 1986, at the age of 17, I bought this beauty and so started my muscle car journey. A 1971 Dodge Challenger. I got the car for $2,500, and off I went. Instantly boosted my street credit, and it was the sweetest ride in high school! Even with an 8-track player!! Look it up, kids! 😊

Too many awesome memories to count. I blew the motor in 1991 but still have the car today. Doesn’t look like the picture anymore, but I’m ready to rebuild and take back my street cred! Are you busy, Dean? Let’s go!

Aimee S.

First Car: Toyota – Tacoma

Throughout the years, my black 2001 Toyota Tacoma became more than just a car to me—it was my faithful companion, my trusted steed, and my ride-or-die. Every scratch and dent on its exterior told a story, a testament to the countless memories we shared together.

I can’t help but smile at the thought of our epic road trip across the country. It was a defining moment in my life, a journey that marked the beginning of a new chapter as I embarked on my college life at Penn State. Through desolate highways and bustling cities, my Tacoma fearlessly carried me, promising new experiences and exciting possibilities at every turn.

Nikki C.

First Car: Isuzu – Rodeo

My first car was a 1998 Isuzu Rodeo. I got it as a Junior in high school, and I loved the heck out of that car. My friends and I would do dumb things like climb in and out of the sunroof and could often be found sitting on top of the car. (One time, we even went through a McDonald’s drive-thru that way) In fact, we spent so much time on top of the car there was a permanent dent!

Derek R.

First Car: Mercedes – 450 SEL

First off, I wish I never sold this car. It was certainly a headache, but this car was a lot of fun to drive! I have so many fond memories of the car, such as seeing the silhouette of the Mercedes logo from the hood ornament when driving at night. Long nights working on it, even the painful struggles of trying to park a car that is as long as a full-size pickup truck.

Of all of these memories, the most memorable was outrunning these people following me in a winter storm. This car was a beast in the snow! The only details I remember from this is that I did not know who was following me, but I did know they weren’t a threat. At least, I think they weren’t, and I very swiftly got away in what felt like a scene from an actual movie.

Maryann H.

First Car: Mercedes Benz – 4Matic C 300

I have been a lucky owner of a 2014 Mercedes since May of 2018. My dream car has always been a black Benz for as long as I can remember. My mom made me fall in love with Benzs since she received 2 for her birthday years back from my stepdad. I promised myself that someday, I will own one.

The sad part is that my car was a victim of a rolling flying cart at Smith’s as someone did not return their cart to the designated cart return area. That is one of the saddest days for me. But despite the dent, she is still beautiful. I made it my lifelong mission to always remind people to return their carts after use. I would like to save as many cars as I can from ugly dents.

Teresa L.

First Car: Toyota – AE86 Corola

Wow, I kind of miss this car, ha ha. So, I was going to college and working at a restaurant as a server and I needed a car. I did not get a loan or bought one at a dealership, unfortunately.

I am from El Paso TX, so there were a lot of businesses that will buy cars from people or even from the junk yards, then they will fix them up and sell them. I saved over $600, and my mother made friends with a mechanic, and she always goes to him, and she saw he was selling cars on the lot. She brought me to him, and I saw the AE86 and fell in love with it– it was tiny, like me. He originally wanted $1000, but he sold it to me for the $600. I started saving money left and right to remodel the vehicle.

The first time I drove to work was nerve-racking since it was all new to me, and I worked to closing, getting out at 10pm. I was ready to drive home. Halfway to my home, I get pulled over and I was scared because I was 18 at the time and with no license. Yup, shouldn’t drive without a license. The officer told me that I am driving with no lights on. He felt bad for me, so he let me go and told me to get my license or next time he will arrest me :).

I said, “yes, and sorry” and went home. That did not stop me, lol. I made sure my lights were on at all times. I wish I had pictures of the car, and I changed out the radio and the speakers. Then, my ex blew my engine :(.


First Car: Volkswagen Beetle

It was a convertible, it was red, and I was 15. What more could a girl ask for? So, the horn would get stuck and would blare as I drove through town. “Just wave,” I’d say as my friends cowered from the passenger seats.  And the ignition didn’t actually need to have a key to start it. So miss placing the keys was not a problem.  We had many a fun adventure in LIL RED!  From the lawn mower engine sounds to the smell of the horsehair seat on a hot summer day. This car was a hot mess, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Chuck S.

First Car: Plymouth – Barracuda Coupe

When I was 16, I got my license and had no car of my own. I was forced to drive the family Station Wagon. Until one day, my dad bought me a Basket Case Car from an auction for $100.  It was a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Coupe, 318 V8 Cleavland engine with a Holly 4 bbl carburetor. It was an official 60’s muscle car.

The engine mounts were broken on both sides, which is why the price was low. It also had leaking oil gaskets, and it smoked. I worked a part-time job and put all of my money into that car to get it running and on the road. It cleaned up real nice. The day before I left for basic training, I got into an accident and the car was totaled. I had to sell it for salvage before I left for the army. I will always remember that great car and my effort to get it going. The picture is not of my car but the exact same model and features as mine.