My first car was my worst car—by far

First, you are wise to continue with your limit of one British car at a time. Do that. Second, my first Brit car was a 1971 GT6 with an electric overdrive and all my memories of it are positive. It was only a few years old and ran and handled very well indeed. So it left a good impression. The next few cars also did not dampen my enthusiasm for that genre of transport and I have fond memories of my MGB GT and MG Lemon Hundred.

But many decades have passed and now I have a 1970 British sports car which has been the worst car I ever owned. It literally has had an unending stream of issues starting the first day of ownership. As soon as one matter is resolved and corrected, another pops up. It is so consistent as to be unreal. Almost like someone has made it their life purpose to assure that there are troubles. This has gone on for almost three years. I know this vehicle more intimately than I’ve ever known any other car. My theory is that the end of my troubles is near because the machine is simple and finite. It is the only car I’ve owned that literally has got newer the longer I have owned it and my assumption has been that it’s troubles followed the combination of poor previous owner choices and the effects of time. I also assumed that it performed just fine from the factory, so the problems are all correctable. I wish it had been as nice when I bought it as it is now.

My very good experience came from the venerable GT6. My worst car makes me very sympathetic to your experience. I think I have you beat though.

I have been traveling up rt 202 to rt2 to my summer house for over 40 years.Volkswagen Bug & squarback,Triumph TR4,Mercedes 220s,Volvo164 & now my 69 Jaguar xj6.That road is a joy to drive hills and curves all the way.I usually like to hit it late at night when there’s no traffic to get in my way.FYI it was just repaved last year and it’s like a ribbon.

My worst ever car - and I’ve had a lot of bad cars - was also my first. In addition it owns a place on the “Car Guys list of Ten Worst Cars of all Time”. With 850cc of French goodness in the back end pushing out a claimed 27 HP (probably double the figure it actually made - on a good day) I give you the 1960 Renault Dauphine. While it didn’t suffer from the massive electrical issues of the British cars it more than made up for it in massive mechanical issues. I had wanted a Mini-Cooper and my Dad thought “the kid wants a small foreign car” so he found a the Renault for $50 and bought it for me. The longest drive it ever made under its own power for the next year was the seven miles from where dad bought it to our driveway. My high school was six miles away - it never made it as far as the halfway point so my friends would kid me about my nonexistent car because so few of them had actually seen it. I learned to never leave the driveway without a tow rope as it was usually coming home on the wrong end of it. The engine had a bad habit of exploding pistons - “luckily” the Dauphine had wet sleeves where for around $20 you could buy an entire piston, rings, rod and cylinder sleeve. I got proficient at removing the head, oil pan and other mechanical bits on a regular basis.

My first car was a '60 Dauphine too. My worst car was a '60 Dauphine too. The girls thought the little ferrin car with 3 on the floor was cute. That was it’s only redeeming feature. When I a 16 year old country boy, having one’s own car was unusual but the Renault was so bad that I suggested to my parents that I could drive one of their cars or a farm truck if I had to go somewhere. One problem you didn’t mention having was the clutch. IIRC is was made of some sort of phenolic material and even with only 27 hp it was easy to burn out. We didn’t keep it long because of frequent breakdowns. My Mother drove it occasionally & when it stopped running while crossing the railroad tracks while she was driving it, we decided to sell it.

Miserable, miserable, miserable cars. I grew to hate mine. But then I bought a new Pinto. An even MORE miserable car…

My worst was not my first, but several down the line. I became smitten with a Fiat X1/9. Root beer brown, black lift off targa top. It was a blast, the one weekend a month it ran. Luckily, the last weekend It ran was a beautiful spring weekend & I had a for sale sign in it…

Mr. Siegel,

Your experience with the GT6 is similar to that of anyone who has ever owned a ‘little’ British car, be it a Triumph, Austin Healey, MG, etc., so don’t be so hard on the Triumph. In fact, from the responses so far, “first car” experiences and horror stories cut across all makes and models, foreign and domestic. Having owned two Triumph GT6s in the nineteen seventies, a 1970 and a 1973 as well as a 1963 Triumph TR3B, a 1971 Datsun 240Z and a 1976 Triumph TR7, I learned that they are just machines that need lots of care and attention. Of late, we have all been spoiled by today’s remarkable automobiles. All of the quirks and problems that plagued cars over 50-years old have been engineered-out. But today’s cars offer no real connection, either. Four years ago, when the itch to own yet another sports car came over me, I sat for along time thinking back to the one car that gave me the most joy and pleasure; it was the GT6. I’ve driven them all but the Triumph GT6 was always my favorite. I went searching for one to rescue and restore for the pure pleasure of doing so. These beautifully styled cars can never be built again. Well, I found my 1970 GT6+ (the best of the three Marks, by the way) in Colorado and set about the task. Three years and about $20k later, it was Concours ready. It is a pure joy to look at and exciting as ever to drive. And, for all the quirks leveled against these cars, there is nothing in the world quite like the exhaust note of a British inline six.

Not my very first but possibly my worst was my ’70 E-type roadster. I was heading back to college after taking 2 years off working as a mechanic to bank a bit more money for business school. I had already received my associates in automotive technology and wanted to head back in style with something that would also challenge me…technically speaking. I saw the jag locally for sale and at a price of $2,250 I couldn’t resist. It was 1980…

The girls loved it but keeping it going meant I had to use the miniscule boot (truck) as a fully stocked parts department. There was hardly a time when something didn’t fall off or just plain stopped functioning. Case in point, I was helping a buddy at a house 10 miles off-campus and just as I arrived the aging plastic fuel line “T” to the 2 Strombergs cracked and I had to do a little creative plumbing, with the help of Ace Hardware, to get the carbs going for the trip home. On the way back it started to rain and as soon as I turned on the wipers, one went flying never to be seen again… And don’t get me started on Lucas… But in the dead of winter it was the one car that would always start and get me to class.

After college the engine went through a total rebuild, all systems reworked, new interior & paint and then a marriage & kids happened. It’s been sitting now for 15 years in the garage and somewhere along the way I’ve come to admire the simplicity of a good old TR6. This Spring I think I’ll find someone who would like to carry the torch on the old Jag, pick up lightly abused Triumph and once again wage battle with the “Prince of Darkness”.

My first car also was a Triumph GT6. My parents had bought it for me after I whined enough about it even though they advised against it not because they knew anything about cars but because, well, after all this was the early 70’s and imported car hadn’t yet been accepted. And yes, it spent equal time up on jack stands in their garage as it did on the road. Can’t remember having electrical problems. Must’ve gotten lucky. But the twin carbs and transmission and clutch were issues. I had the transmission out so many times that I could do it in 45 minutes (!) from the time I drove it in their garage to the time it was sitting on the bench.


My first/worst car was a 1967 Ford Anglia. It is the one used by the country cops in the British TV series Heartbeat and also in one of the Harry Potter movies. It was bought new for me by my parents when they sold our farm. It was kind of a ‘payoff’ since I didn’t really want to sell the farm. In hindsight, it was good that they sold the farm.
It went through three clutches in 50,000 miles.
At one point, I had to rock the car back and forth while in fourth gear in order to cause the flywheel to rotate a small amount so that the starter would engage the ring gear on the flywheel. The ring gear had not been shrunk/pressed adequately onto the flywheel so that eventually it pivoted at a couple of opposing tight points on the flywheel. Thus the starter would only engage the ring gear on about a half of two thirds of its teeth.
One of the rear brake slave cylinders seized and was only found when I went through a mandatory safety check.
One of it’s rear ‘rotary style’ shocks failed.
The stop light switch failed so I only found out I had no brakes lights when someone told me.
One cold winter morning, I went out to start it and the clutch pedal went all the way to the floor. The seal in the hydraulic slave cylinder of the clutch shrank or ??? and the fluid had all leaked out.
One day when I pulled on the emergeny/park brake handle, I felt a strange kind of movement. Later that day I pressed on the brake pedal while going down a small hill and it went to the floor. I pulled one rear drum off and found that a little cotte pin was what held the emergency/park brake lever into the rear shoe. The failure of this little cotter pin left me without brakes. What a scary design…
Towards the end of my ownership, I had to hold the stick shift lever with my hand to prevent it from popping out of fourth gear when going up an incline. i.e. when loading up the transmission.
When I received the car, my parents gave me the choice of the Anglia or a Cortina. The Cortina had three on the tree and I wanted the ‘flashy’ four on the floor of the Anglia. That was a real stupid decision. But hey when you are 17 and you think four on the floor is cool, what are you going to do???:slight_smile:

1977, and had real money in my pocket thanks to Uncle Sam. Went down to Colonial Toyota in Orlando because I had grown up on the family’s little tinny Corollas and Coronas. And there it was on the used lot, a white 1972 MG Midget. Immediately smitten. Salesman didn’t even have to sell it to me. Overheated on the way back to the base. Thus starts my tale of woe and willing submission. The car was off the road more than on it, but I learned (thru necessity) to wrench on that little temptress, a skill that has served me well. That little car took me up and down the eastern seaboard a number of times, and was a blast to drive in the snow. And perhaps the best advantage of the small English roadster is that you can push start them yourself. Went German after that, but still gaze longingly at the examples that show up on the Craig.

My first car wasn’t all that bad (a '70 Plymouth Satellite 2 door that I later "Road Runner-ized) but there were several in my early years of motoring where I’d buy cheap POS cars just for driving back and forth to work, and it wasn’t all bad if you had a distorted sense of humor like I did! When I first started my career, we had to park in large lots where it seemed that someone was always stealing tires, radios, batteries, etc. Ugly beaters that avoided the prying hands of the thieves were the order of the day if you were a car-guy and could keep them running. The problems with the vehicles made a boring commute into something of an adventure actually!
I distinctly remember a slant 6 Duster that I had bought for $50 in the mid 80’s because it needed a timing chain, but it had been sitting under a tree for so long that the light tan paint was pure black. My wife tried to do me a favor and tried to clean it up with normal soap and water, but she eventually had to resort to a Scotch Brite to get all of the sap and mildew off. The radiator was plugged up and I didn’t have the money to replace it (newlyweds buying their first house and all… you know!) but I figured that I could drive it straight to work and straight home before the needle got all the way up to the H side of the gauge. Until one day that I needed to go to a doctor’s appointment. Sitting at a red light with steam coming out from all 4 edges of the hood - it was all that I could do to keep a straight face and to stare straight ahead as other drivers at the light blew their horns trying to get my attention. “Hey mister!!! Your car…” “HEY! Mister!!!”. For $50 it was pretty amusing, and if the car would have exploded right there, I’d have easily gotten my money’s worth out of it.
In the mid 90’s I also picked up an 86 Chrysler LeBaron GTS that was a near identical twin to my wife’s, but mine had the manual 5 speed and no turbo. The previous owner was convinced that it needed a head gasket (because her “expert mechanic” told her so) and all of the convincing in the world that it was just a bad thermostat didn’t help, so she sold it to me for what the junkyard offered her for it: $100. Faded paint, ripped seats, but I knew that going in to the purchase, and I got another “beat the snot out of it until it breaks” car! Nearly every day was an excuse to leave the office parking lot and to turn right as hard as I could and floor it to see if it’d still smoke the right front tire all the way to the traffic light (to the amusement of the other car guys in the office who drove civilized and expensive Corvettes, Camaros and Trans Ams). I’d have to put about a quart of gear oil in the transaxle every week because of a leaky half shaft seal that I certainly was never going to fix, but otherwise the car ran like a Timex and never broke a thing. One of my co-workers drove a Corvette and when we were asked to work out of town for a few days he asked if we could carpool so that his car wouldn’t get damaged or stolen. Later when I got my reimbursement check for the mileage that I had put on, he started calling it “the company car” since I had gotten paid MORE to drive the car for work than I had paid for the WHOLE CAR! I later sold it to a desperate co-worker for $400 (and of course told him about the leaky half-shaft seal) and he drove the car for another year or so before he sold it to someone else.
As long as you know going in that the car will be a piece of crap and that it might very likely leave parts or vital fluids in its wake, and that you’re never going to be invited to Pebble Beach as long as you drive THAT THING… Make it fun and have a good time! (Ignore the people who are trying to be nice by alerting you to your car leaking fluids or overheating.)

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My first car was a 1965 Mustang with a 289. I got it for $100 cuz it didn’t run. After dropping the pan and found a shattered piston in the pan. Being 16 and in high school, I took of the offending rod, took it to school and cut the rod close to the big end and welded up the oil hole then clamped it back on the crank. Pulled out the two push rods and shorted the spark plug. Gooped up the old gasket and put her all back together. Although it ran like crap that didn’t mater, I was 16 and was driving!

Ha. My first car was a GT6, The Worst Car Ever Made. Who knew a car could be so bad? And I have a Europa sitting in my garage collecting dust, empty boxes and misc. bits. Are we kin?

'57 Olds . . . Two door, four door, convertible? I get your anger

My first Mustang was a '68 convertible. Horrible car . . . except I was King of the Road when I was driving it. People shouting at me. “How much? What do you want for it?” Same story with my '71 Eldorado.

It wasn’t my first car, but the worst car that I ever owned was a beautiful '57 Oldsmobile. It had a continuous string of transmission troubles,but the main issue was the awful vacuum-operated heater and ventilation controls. At one time or other I think I replaced every inch of the miles of vacuum …

My worst was also my first. 1968 Dodge Charger. I bought it for $400 in 1982. I HAD to have it despite my Grandfather’s warning after he looked it over. Haha! It was gold with a 318. I called it my ‘James Bond’ car. We drilled holes in the passenger side to pull out a dent and it looked like a machine gun had lit it up…and when I dropped it into ‘low’ I could drop a layer of blue smoke out the back!! Anyway, it all lasted about four months. I was driving in a rain storm and suddenly the horn started going on it’s own and wouldn’t stop. Then the lights went. The whole electrical system shorted out. Bye bye Charger. :cry:

How many have made the same mistake twice in a row? The worst car was probably numbers 5&6 or 6&7 if i can remember that far back: a Fiat spider 850 and then a 124! It was the mid '70’s and if i had been doing a lot of drugs maybe i would blame my lack of memory of them on that, but i think it was the traumatic experience of owning 2 in a row. The name did really mean Fix It Again Tony.
I know there are guys out there that love em, but for a 24 yr old with no mechanical knowledge they were not the right choice. in fact my car selections over the yrs have been to often driven by romanticism vs practicality!
#2 was a '60 190sl that ran but was already rusting away ( Syracuse NY winters); Number 7 was a used Volvo wagon( practical) but it had fuel pump issues, cut out at high temps- try driving from Cincinnati to Omaha in August with out high temperature! Ha!
wish i had picts of them all- quite a rogue’s gallery.

At the least you had a cool first car that gives you stories to tell many years on. Mine was a Fiat Spider that I managed to crash on day two, thus avoiding all the inevitable mechanical and electrical failures. Now in middle age I am the proud owner of not only an identical Spider but also a '69 GT6. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I love those two cars for all their quirks and all their character. I’ve done a few videos over at my youtube channel on the fiat, but none yet on the GT6. Take a look. I vote for buying another an reliving the fun part of your youth without (hopefully) all the hassle.