They say you never forget your first, but the importance placed on that "first" is relative. Ask any car guy about his first kiss, and he'll usually have to think for a while before coming up with a name. (That being said, we'll wait while you scroll through your brain's Rolodex to come up with her name...)
Now, ask about his first car, and the recall is instantaneous. He may even still have a picture of it tucked away in his wallet! Personally, we feel there should be some sort of legislation passed that states if a particular vehicle was your first car, all future owners must offer you first chance at purchasing it when it goes up for sale. There isn't a man alive who doesn't reflect fondly upon his first car, even if it was a rust bucket that didn't run more than it did! Even if you don't want your exact first car, we're willing to bet you'd buy the same year and body style if given the opportunity.
Tom Arling, of Minster, Ohio, doesn't have to worry about searching out his first ride, because he was one of the smart ones and never let go of it, even after the insurance company totaled it out after an accident! He bought the '73 Road Runner in 1986 while still in junior high school, becoming the car's fourth owner. Originally sold in Batavia, Ohio, the Road Runner had spent its entire life in Ohio, including the Midwest winters and subsequent salt baths. Typical Ohio body rot had claimed the floors, quarter-panels and doors, but it was complete, and still had the numbers-matching 340/four-speed combo, so after plunking down $800 hard-earned teenage dollars, the car was his. He worked on the car for the next four years and built it into what he thought was a fairly decent set of wheels.
Soon after, Tom had one of those character building experiences all teenagers go through. An old guy in a pickup truck blew a stop sign and Tom T-boned him, wiping out the front of the car. Tom described the aftermath as "just about demolished," being bad enough that the insurance company totaled the car. Most people would have taken the money and found a new car, but it was Tom's first car, so he paid the insurance company "a couple hundred dollars" and hauled the carcass home. That was in 1990.
Tom spent the next seven years scouring swap meets and junkyards looking for the pieces he needed to put the car back together again, but this time around the car was going to be done better than his high school budget allowed him the first time. The car was rebuilt to factory specs, which feature power disc brakes, power steering, 3.55 Sure Grip 831/44 rearend and the Road Runner suspension package with front and rear sway bars. Tom's brother, Jim, rebuilt the engine to factory specs, Carriage Werks in St. Henry, Ohio, was given the nod to massage and color the sheetmetal, and the interior was brought up to snuff with a Legendary Auto Interiors kit and an assortment of original and reproduction pieces, includeing the factory tach, center console, Pistol Grip shifter and AM/FM radio.
In 1997, the car was finished. Again. He's only put a few hundred miles on it since it's completion, and we'd be willing to bet he's kept a sharp eye out for old guys and pick-up trucks! Tom still has no intention of letting his first car get away, and we have to admit we're envious of a guy who still has his first car, because we know first hand that no other car, no matter how nice, has the same luster as your first set of wheels.