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Driving in to work the other day, I got to thinking about my automotive genealogy and about how cars help shape our families.

Nearly all the cars I remember as a kid were station wagons. We had a Rambler wagon, like this:


except ours was a forest green. And I remember seeing a picture of the car it replaced, another Rambler wagon with a white roof.

The Ramblers gave way to Chevrolet wagons in the mid-1960s. I remember two pale blue ones, Chevelle wagons, but in the middle was a tan one with that fake wood trim. Now there’s a design element Detroit ought to bring back. I bet it saves GM.

I adopted the last Chevy wagon, and took it to college and my first job. In the 1980s, as it was making its long slow slide to the junkyard, my brother used it as a big, lockable tool box as he was building his house.

At some point in the 1960s, we became a two-car family, which was still a bit unusual at the time. My mother had her own Rambler, an Ambassador we picked up used. One like this:


Again, our car was a light green.

Then after the Rambler, Mom got a 1974 Chevrolet Impala.


This car had the steel, horsepower and raw courage to have led the invasion of Baghdad. I suppose my parents cursed its low gas mileage, but I’m not sure anyone even thought about such at thing when they bought it.

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Comment by Sherry Hightower on July 11, 2009 at 12:18pm
In the 1970s I was the only girl in the local Chevy Classic Club who had her own classic. I had a 1957 2-door post ! Man!! I sure wish I had kept that baby!!
Comment by Tom Mueller on July 11, 2009 at 8:14am
I've been doing the same thing; tracking my family's 'car genealogy'. I have scale models of several of them, including a 1953 Chevy Belair that was my family's first car that I remember. I have a model of a 1957 Ford that my grandparents bought new, and took me and my cousin on a vacation in. We went to the Ozarks (from Chicago). My prize model vehicle is a Texaco tanker truck that my gramps gave me when I was about 5 or 6. I have that on display with a painting of him.
Comment by Jessica Hammond on July 11, 2009 at 7:58am
Ha, yes! I have really no interest in cars myself (I can never even remember what year my own Ford Escort is. 1998? 1997? Very embarrassing.) but I've noticed as I've read my grandpa's memoirs that his cars are often more important characters than neighbors. He lists his cars and his parents' cars (even after he'd moved out of the house). When he and his wife were first married, he referred to their first car as "Chevy", no preceding article, as if Chevy were the car's given name. He even call it a "she" when he talked about it.

Now that I think about it, though, my brother does that with computers. He's proclaimed that his Mac is a "she." I wonder if my brother will list all his computers someday in his own autobiography.

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