The Ford Pinto. Yes, it was awful and likely hazardous, but it was the first car I had with a manual transmission, it cost around $250, and I did quite a few reason-challenged things in that car. (Things for which I would have likely been hospitalized or jailed if I’d tried them in a larger or more powerful car).

Its reputation proved handy for learning manual, as hardly anyone tailgated me. I also learned quite a bit about how cars work, what can go wrong, and how to fix them.

At one point in life, I loaded up my musical instruments, some clothes, and a few other belongings into the Pinto and drove 650 miles to start a new life in a new city. Things didn’t work out, though, and after a few months in that pit of a city, the Pinto wouldn’t have made it back. So I left it there for scrap and headed home on a bus, a little wiser, a lot sadder).

So thank you, little blue Pinto.