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My First Car
1975 Oldsmobile Starfire Hatchback

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I used this as a trade-in at Hansel Ford in Santa Rosa, California in 1985. I attribute this lack of judgment to being a young father, with two jobs, attending night school, at the same time I was United States Air Force and getting very little sleep!

I regretted the decision immediately after the deal was done and have missed her ever since.  On the outside chance that she didn't get crushed, if anyone knows her whereabouts, I am not in a position to offer much in the way of a reward, but we could work something out. Sadly, I do not even have a record of the VIN but there are a few modifications that may still be on the car that will help identify her.


September 1978 - My first car was purchased due to an accident . . . literally.  I was a new driver.  I may have had my license for four months . . . tops.  I had borrowed my Mom's "new" car, a '75 Starfire, to go somewhere and happened to meet up with my future wife, at a friend's house.  She needed a ride home and no one wanted to do it.  I guess I was the only one that didn't know how far out of town she lived.  Not that it would have mattered.  I instantly liked her.

Anyway, I volunteered and off we went.  It was about thirty minutes away from my midnight curfew and by the time I got her all the way out into the hills in the country between Petaluma and Sonoma, I had maybe ten minutes left!

I figured that I was going to get in trouble for being late so how does a 17 year old, new driver rationalize things?  He tears down a winding mountain road that he had no experience on, deathly deep ravines on one side and a mountainside on the other, going so fast the tires are squealing in protest at every s-curve.

Relying on my only life experience with such sounds - James Bond movies - the thought went through my head, "Wow, this is cool . . . ."

Mike, Denise, Mom - May, 1979Blam - and like that I was out of control doing 360s at probably 60 or more miles per hour.  Thankfully I was being watched over from above and my car slammed into a berm of asphalt that a past road crew had dumped along a turnout on the opposite side of the road.  This stopped the car from slamming into the hillside, or worse, from going over a cliff, but it high-centered me.

For some reason, the car engine stopped.  I do not remember turning it off.  I had stirred up a considerable amount of dust that engulfed the area and the lights shining up into it, with the radio still playing and the quiet of the night presented an eerie scene.  I was in shock.  Not exactly sure what was going on.  But I got out, shaken up but not hurt, to assess the damage.

Just then, some guy who was driving up the mountain and saw what I had done, stopped to help.  (This was back in the days when folks still did that sort of thing.)  What was going through my head was "shit . . . SHIT . . . Dad is going to kill me!"  The man got a flashlight and we quickly determined that I was not going to pop on a spare tire and drive home.  I was screwed.

My GloveboxI had slammed into the berm (about two feet tall) with both passenger side tires with enough force that it bent both steel, stock rims.  He gave me a ride to the end of the driveway at my (not yet) girlfriend's parent's dairy, and I started walking.  It was at least thirty minutes since I had dropped Denise off and everyone in the household was in bed.  One of the siblings answered the door and went and got her for me.  I told her what happened and asked to borrow the phone. [For you youngsters out there, phone where something physically attached to a house, business or phone booth . . . there were no such thing as cell phones!]

Man was I dreading calling home.  I told Dad that I got in an wreck and the first thing he asked was, "Are you alright?"  Then he asked where it was and how it happened.  He said that he would meet me there with a tow truck.  I will always remember that.

Dad was still in his thirties and had a pretty hot temper and you could usually expect some serious chewing out.  In the past I had even pushed him to the point of having him tell me he would "kick my ass to breakfast" (which I am still unclear of what that means other than it is not fun :).

Denise on her way to Chanute in early 1981But this time, he was calm on the phone and when he surveyed the damage, he said, "Looks like you just bought a car."  This is how I bought my first car.

[Note:  Although I bought four new starburst, cyclone vector magnesium rims for the car and we created a contract and I started paying on the car, my Mom still drove it everyday to work.  I did not get free use of it.  I still had to ask permission to borrow it, and it was not until I graduated high school and needed it to go to college everyday that it actually became mine.  Another bit of wisdom on the part of my Dad.]Montana - August 1981 on our Trip home to Califormia

I kept the car through a couple of other accidents and repairs (it was one tough automobile) until my wife and I had our second child, outgrew it and needed a larger, four door vehicle.  I still miss it and wish that I had been in a position to have hung onto it.  Maybe I will find it, or another Starfire someday.


Technical Information:

The Starfire was a sub-compact automobile. Even smaller than the Omega.  It was based on the GM HS body, shared with the Chevrolet Monza 2+2, Pontiac Sunbird and the Buick Skyhawk.  They made 2,950 of the Starfire Hatchbacks.  The shipping weight was 2,889 pounds and the MSRP was $3,873.

Standard equipment included armrests, power brakes with front discs, cigarette lighter, bumper rub strips, Buick 231 cu. in. (3.8L) V6 engine, automatic transmission, carpeting, electronic ignition, custom sport steering wheel and four-speed transmission. All Starfires in 1975 were built at the General Motors plant at St. Therese in Quebec, Canada.

My car had the performance suspension package (front and rear sway bars), a custom dual exhaust system from DOBI, added rear air shocks, aftermarket halogen headlights, fog lights, auxiliary lighting (glove box and under the hood) rear hatch window louvers, power steering, tilt steering wheel, air conditioning, a sweet AM/FM cassette stereo system with Jensen Triaxial 6x9s housed in hand built speaker boxes in the rear, and a wireless / paging alarm system.

For fun, it also had a kill switch for all of the rear lights, a kill switch for the license plate light, and a bleach dispenser aimed onto the back tires. (I was in high school, what can I say?!?!)

The stock rims on my '75 were 13" x 6", painted the body color (red), Super Stock steel wheel with bright trim ring, Oldsmobile center cap and bright wheel slot trim.

The car had these rims until I wrecked two of them in the accident mentioned above.


Sales and Marketing Literature:

Sales brochure seen above and magazine advertisements below.


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