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1966 Cadillac Sedan de Ville (photographed by David Temple)

Note: See our other nostalgic “Senior-Year Lust” articles for 1965, 1974, 1983, 1998, and 2002.

In recent months here at the old Daily Drive, you may have read my colleagues’ reminiscences of the cars that they admired in the years from which they graduated from high school. I’ve been looking forward to joining that discussion, but I’m doing it with a twist.

Grooviest Vehicles of 1965

Buick Riviera

My colleagues probably didn’t expect me to jump in on this thread, but I couldn’t resist. You see, I was lucky enough to be a car-crazy high-school senior in 1965, a year so packed with cool cars that it’s still tough picking just five personal favorites.

Coolest Vehicles of 2002

Acura NSX

Also check out Tom Appel’s Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983,” Ed Piotrowski’s Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998,” and Rick Cotta’s Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of…1974.”

In my senior year of high school, the auto industry was finally pulling out of the 1990s and moving away from all of the jellybean car designs produced during that period of time (*COUGH* FORD ASPIRE *COUGH*). While many other desirable cars were available, these were my favorites from my graduation year of 2002. Though I had to settle for driving Mom and Dad’s Volvo 240 sedan and station wagon (vehicles I learned to love and still do), these were the ones I lusted after. I put pictures of them on my bedroom wall and on the inside of my locker door at school to show the world that I was a car enthusiast, and had damn good taste in vehicles.

Coolest Cars of 1974

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983” and Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998.”

By my senior year at Riverside-Brookfield High School outside of Chicago, the auto industry was facing some dark days. Not only was horsepower plummeting due to emissions standards, but it was the first year that federal regulations forced manufacturers to tack on huge, girder-like protruding bumpers both front and rear in order for their wares to (supposedly) withstand five-mph impacts without damage. And they looked just as attractive as they sound.

Coolest cars of 1998

Chevrolet Corvette (“C5” generation)

Reading blog posts by Consumer Guide’s esteemed Publisher Tom Appel makes you really think about the cars of your past. Again, I will borrow a page from his book and reminisce about the cars I most greatly desired in 1998, my senior year at the now-closed Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison, Illinois.


Mercedes-Benz 380 SEL

Doing hard time can change a man. Things you thought were true on the outside become less clear as time on the inside accrues. I did time—four years, in fact. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a lot of that time, at least the part that wasn’t spent in chemistry. You see, I was sentenced to four years of “learning” at Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois. My crime? Finishing eighth grade.


Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

I probably remember 1979 better than I recall any other year of my youth. My last year of grade school (and first year of high school), ’79 was the year I managed to fall out of a tree and badly injure myself, the year I had to make clear to my mother I wanted no part of being a priest, and the year I discovered legs. As it turned out, the last two items were not entirely unrelated. Where are you now, Lauren Tewes?

1983 Toyota Tercel

Cheap Cars of 1983

Affordability is a relative thing. But odds are, if a manufacturer is sharing the price of a product in advertising, the thing being sold is probably a good deal. Of course, in the case of automobiles, the listed base price is subject to any number of asterisks and fine-print notations—especially back in the Eighties, before regulators were paying especially close attention to auto ads.

PLymouth Rapid Transit System, Vintage Plymouth Ads

1972 Plymouth “Rapid Transit System”

More than most brands, Plymouth was an automotive marque with many personalities. As a kid, I knew no one with an interesting Plymouth. I learned to drive on a Slant-Six-powered 1974 Valiant that had been repainted by Earl Scheib.

2002 Chrysler Prowler, Inca Gold

2002 Chrysler Prowler

What comes of a car like the Prowler? Despite a long list of credentials–including its striking open-wheel design, the fact that it survived the death of of its original brand, and a spate of cool special-edition colors–the Prowler doesn’t seem to engender the kind of present-day enthusiast interest one might think it should.