John Lane, Rio Dell historian: "My first three automobiles were British: A Morris Minor sedan and two Hillman Husky mini station Wagons. World War II was over and since I served in the U.S. Army in Burma with the army engineers, I was anxious to visit Europe. I made three trips to Europe in the 1950s and early 1960s, each time picking up a new English auto at the factory in England. I brought all three vehicles home as English law required, and either sold it or traded it in on a new vehicle to be picked up on the next trip to England. I saw Europe in depth from Ireland to Yugoslavia and Austria, Paris to the Arctic Circle and Norway, and ended up driving the last Hillman Husky to total collapse back in the USA."
Matt McHale, Los Angeles Daily News associate sports editor: "A 1969 Chevy Impala. All I can remember is that it burned seven quarts of oil driving from Denver to New York in 1979."
Ken Mierzwa, Ferndale city council member: "A 1969 Pontiac Firebird. It was bright orange, a 350 c.i. four-speed. It cost me about $1,400 used in 1972. Learning to drive a manual transmission in Chicago rush hour traffic was very entertaining. I think I stalled twice."
All I can remember is that it burned seven quarts of oil driving from Denver to New York in 1979.
Michael Powers, Ferndale city manager: "A 1965 Ford Falcon. I paid $100 for it. The engine was in the trunk, and the tranny in the back seat. The guy I bought it from had gotten it for his kid who never 'got around' to restoring it. I bought the Chilton's Manual for it, disassembled and reassembled the engine and tranny, installed them and it RAN! I traded work for an interior and exterior restoration. The original engine was a 170-cubic inch straight six with 'three on the tree.' The tranny and engine blew after a year. I replaced the motor with a souped up 289 (did the work myself), four-speed tranny and new rear end. (It) flew like the wind."
Odell Shelton, Fortuna businessman: "A 1952 four-door Chevy. I worked all summer at Fortuna Veneer digging ditches and whatever else was needed to make enough money to buy this car plus pay the insurance for one year. I wish I still had that car. The car was only eight years old when I bought it. It was my 16-year old birthday present."
Jerome Simone, United Indian Health Services Inc., chief executive officer: "A 1958 VW Bug, painted gold (by hand with a brush). (It) had wide whitewall tires and a very cool roll-back sun roof. My friends called it the 'Golden Toad.' It was a very special little vehicle, intertwined with some very fond memories of my youth. Your first car and memories of your youth are nearly inseparable and represent freedom. They remind you of the first date — her name was Cass — that someone's parent or a friend did not have to drive you, my first real good job at General Rose Hospital in Denver, going to college, going on drives into the Colorado Rockies in the winter snow (VW Bugs were very good in the snow), the East Holiday Drive-In on Colfax Avenue and just 'cruisin' with my friends on a Saturday night. They took a lot of our 'special memories' and put them into a movie called 'American Graffiti."
Lissa Uselton, graphic designer, production manager and race car driver: "A 1977 Nova four-door. It was so much slower than what I drive now. My special memories, of course, are some of those races I've been involved in. Like a door-to-door with the 50 car in Ukiah for 35 laps. Recently, there was a 10-lapper door-to-door with Larry Pries. I lost both of them, but it was more fun than winning."
(Eureka Reporter staff writers Christine Bensen-Messinger and Kathleen Adkins contributed to this story.)