Five Decades of Our Vehicles

Having been married over fifty years, I can look back and see a string of vehicles that got us where we needed–and wanted–to travel. We’re prone to buying used cars or demos and driving them until there’s nearly nothing left. We started out with a 1963 Chevy:

1963 Chevy

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Yes, we lived in a trailer court when Guy was in the Air Force in Idaho.

Guy’s dad and grandmother bought this stick shift Chevy Biscayne from a neighbor (Glidden, Iowa) for $1000 when Guy was a senior in college (State College of Iowa, now UNI), so was our car when we married in 1966. White with turquoise interior, it had one white-wall tire, so was on the front on the driver’s side. After Guy joined the Air Force, it took us to live in Mountain Home, Idaho, in 1967. We sold it there in 1969 to buy a new VW bug.

1969 Volkswagen Bug

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The 1969 Bug in its original habitat.
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We were so slow going up a grade into Cheyenne, Wyoming, that everyone passed us and laughed at Muffy in the back seat.

With the Chevy we couldn’t afford to do much sight-seeing, so hoped that having a more economical car would help us get to the West Coast.  White with red interior, it cost $2169.30 in 1969. Another stick shift. Guy got orders for Vietnam, so instead of seeing the coast, it moved us and our adopted Cocker Spaniel Muffy back to Dexter, Iowa.

With no jobs after Guy got out of the Air Force, we took a 6600 mile trip in the Bug–from Iowa through Colorado, up California staying with friends and relatives, back to Idaho, out to Washington and up through Canada, back to Iowa. This little car moved with us to Colorado in 1971 and back to Iowa (W. Des Moines) in 1976.

Guy has a propensity for driving each of our cars within inches of its life. When the bug began to rust, Guy put primer on the worst spots. He finally sold it in 1983 to Jerry’s Bug Shop in Des Moines for $200. It was 14 ½ years old and had traveled 140,000 miles for us.

If the driver’s door had stayed latched, and if my feet hadn’t gotten wet from water sprayed up through the floor when it rained, we’d probably still have that car!

1966 Corvette Coupe

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At our apartment in Aurora, Colorado.

After we moved to Aurora, Colorado, Guy bought a 1966 silver green Corvette with black interior from a private individual in North Glen for $2100 in 1972. We even drove it to Indiana from Colorado to do some family history researching. It overheated as we traveled through Kansas, so had to take it easy. Once when driving it back to Iowa, the clutch went out near Aurora, Nebraska. We had to stay two nights so they could order a part of it. We were thankful that they changed the movie in town so we could kill time that way.

When I started needing maternity clothes in 1974, we decided we needed a “family car,” so Guy sold it for $2500. For decades afterwards, he wished he still owned that Corvette.

1972 Ford Half-Ton

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The “family car” Guy bought was this used green pickup with a stick shift–bought for $2495 in 1974, still in Colorado. We did take one trip in it–to New Mexico–and decided that camping with a toddler wasn’t that much fun. We moved back to Iowa with it and the VW Bug. Dad bought it in 1977 for $1800. Even though he’d farmed for years, this was his first pickup.

1977 Ford Granada

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We bought this grey demo two-door Granada Ghia with cranberry interior from Charles Gabus Ford in Des Moines for $5543. It had 1000 miles on it. First car with air conditioning! We drove this one to death, too. Eventually the driver’s door wouldn’t latch, so we had to slide in (and over the stick shift) from the passenger door. It wouldn’t shift into drive after being in reverse, so I had to park where I wouldn’t have to back up. And it would jump out of first gear so I had to hold it in place! When I told Guy about it, he said, “Ya, it does that.” 

A junk dealer wouldn’t give him a dime for the carcass. By the time Guy donated it in 2001 to Central Campus of the Des Moines Public Schools for automotive students, he’d wired the back bumper on and added lots of primer paint to the rusted areas. He had a big lump in his throat when we dropped it off at Central Campus. They were happy to get an older car that they would pull the wiring out of to study.

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Wired-on bumper, a little rust.

This car may have been the hardest for Guy to give up. He was kidded about it for a dozen at the control tower where he worked–the worst-looking car in the parking lot. But it was paid for and he didn’t worry if it got hailed on.

1979 Dodge Omni

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When sis Gloria bought a Mazda RX-7, we bought her grey and black Omni hatchback automatic in 1982 for $3550. We drove it only four years, and sold it in 1986 for $1680 to another air traffic controller for his son.

1985 Volkswagen Jetta

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Son Dan with the Jetta.

Probably my favorite car to drive, and our last stick shift, was a silver demo Jetta, bought from Friedman Motors in Des Moines in 1986 for $11,211, with 700 miles on it. Dan drove it his senior year in high school but didn’t have a car his seven years in Iowa City. We gave it to Dan when he moved to Minneapolis in 2000 and drove it until the next year when it started having more problems than it was worth. Guy eventually sold it to a man named Luis for $1.

1995 Chevy Lumina

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In 1996 we bought a year-old black (okay, onyx) Chevy Lumina from Steve Richey at Crescent Chevrolet for $15,000. Mileage was 18,353. Automatic. I was ready for that. When I started having health problems that made the Lumina difficult to get into and out of, and the passenger-side door would only open from the inside–manually–on the side of my bum shoulder, Guy sold it for $500 to a student. Mileage 127,003.4.

1999 Ford Ranger

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Veteran license plates.

Both of us enjoyed driving this used pickup from Granger Motors. Bought in 2000 for $19,300 with 9228 miles on it. Nothing automatic on it except the gear shift. Manual door locks and windows. Eventually sold it to a friend in 2015 for $2250.


We both now enjoy driving a grey eight-year-old Honda CRV and a bright blue four-year old F150.



  1. Thank you for this post. It was a reminder of all the cars that a family goes through on their road to where they are now. Loved the pictures. I had no idea where you were during this time. Sorry about that too.

    • We’re both record keepers. And I have a “Family Record Book” that even has a section on Automobile Data. We were better about keeping it up in the good old days.

  2. Such a lovely read! We began with a 1958 VW Beetle, then a Mazda pickup, a VW Double-cab pickup, went through a few Mazda cars, and are on our second Toyota Hilux pickup: families grow, roads worsen, and the travel lust rises 🙂

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