I had been driven into the Porsche/Audi Dealership in Lancaster, PA in the back of my parents beige VW Squareback - it was 1980. My eyes were agog at the 911s in the showroom, I actually got to sit in one while my parents conducted business...
...my parents were buying a silver 1976 Manta Luxus. At the age of 12 all I could appreciate from the Opel at the time was the back seat, or occassionally, when I was driving with my dad, the passenger seat.
Then came the spring of 1983 and time for drivers ed - which consisted of me driving the Opel around the abandoned parking lot of the local farmers market to get the feel for the clutch and how the car handled.
By the time my birthday rolled around in late June I was ready to take the Manta to the DMV and get my drivers license. I happened to get Officer Corns as my reviewer and he failed me for poor parallel parking. A month later I returned and was able to get my license. In the interim, my father had acquired a 1981 Corolla and the Manta became my car.
The Manta and I drove as much as we could, beating a 240Z on Route 222 was the highlight of our career together - given, the 240Z seemed to have a valve let go and the driver waved me off, but still, a victory was a victory.
Unfortunately, one day the Manta was sitting alongside the road and was totally destroyed by a neighbor as he was trying to avoid a cat.
There was no saving the silver Manta...still, that car will always live in my mind as my first car.
I've grown a little older, still like to race people - but on the track, not on the highway, and I am back to find a Manta to fix up and take autocrossing. Hope to have fun on the board and get to meet a lot of people. If you happen to have an manual Opel Manta please let me know, I'd be very interested in talking with you.
Live Free and Drive,