According to You: 7 cars that ruled the high school parking lot

Hagerty Community/MikeOD

A driver’s license is a ticket to freedom that comes at an interesting time in life. It was a rite of passage for many budding car enthusiasts, but likely before we had our license we were hitching a ride or getting dropped off at high school while ogling the upperclassman’s sweet cars and trucks in the parking lot. Some were awesome simply because they allowed those drivers to move about on their own. Others were cool because they packed serious muscle or cool factor. No matter what the reason, all of us can look back and image the coolest cars in our high school parking lot.

A couple members of the Hagerty media team had been discussing this exact thing recently, and we were curious what our readers might remember as the coolest cars in their high school parking lots, so we asked the Hagerty Community. The results were a little surprising. Here are some of our favorites:

Austin FX4D

1977 Austin FX4D London Taxi Cab front three-quarter

While many students might have been taking the big yellow bus, “Studebacher” was driving a people mover of a different color: An Austin that was designed for taxi service in the congested London streets. While the post doesn’t clarify if this was overseas or in the U.S., being sure note that it was right-hand drive makes us think it was stateside. What an experience to commute in something like this. Also, did you have to back through any drive-up windows?

1970 Trans Am Ram Air III

1970 Pontiac Trans Am Ram Air III
Andrew Thompson/Mecum

There was no shortage of heavy-hitting muscle in the comments, but a Ram Air III stands out in every crowd. The biggest and baddest from Pontiac came equipped with a 400-cubic-inch V-8 punching out 345 horsepower. Surely a car like this, driven by a high schooler, required some judicious budgeting to keep tires on the rear wheels. And surely whoever had it is either very happy they didn’t sell it or really bummed that they did, because these have aged quite nicely over the years.

1950 MG TD roadster

MG TD Roadster
Hagerty Community/Ronwake

Most people will tell you that appreciation for little British cars comes with age, but “Ronwake” knew what was cool even before accepting a diploma. The white wall tires, combined with the continental kit, really set off a unique look that may or may not have been a little polarizing, but we think that it was pretty darn awesome.

Camaro Z28

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Sport Coupe front three-quarter

While some seniors were worried about As and Bs on report cards and final exams, whole swaths of budding enthusiasts were interested in two very different letters: DZ. Stamped on a small-block Chevrolet, it was the sign for the high-revving 302-cubic-inch V-8 that came with the smash-hit Z28 RPO package. No order code has quite broken into everyday language like Z28, and the appearance of a Camaro sporting the styling package is timeless. Lots of high schoolers thought they were the next Mark Donohue, but that Z28 package never came with the blue and gold Penske livery. We all just imagined it.

Mercury Cougar XR7

Mercury Cougar XR-7 Convertible

The car for those in the know. While some would be impressed by a base trim Mustang or Camaro, a powerful and stylish Mercury can sometimes be under appreciated. Well, they weren’t by many of our readers, as multiple chimed in that Cougar XR7s are something they remember prowling the parking lots during their high school years. With the right day-two wheels and tires, these have a mean stance and just enough power from the Ford small-block to back it up.

1987 Grand National

1987 Buick Grand National front three-quarter

A young man driving a Buick is something most people won’t give second thought to, but if the car is an all-black Buick with a orange arrow on the side you would be making a mistake to dismiss it right away. A sleeper in its day, Grand National owners usually couldn’t hide for long, as the turbocharged V-6 could easily put a hurtin’ on and “muscle car” of the late-1980s. Heaven forbid this was driven by someone who paid attention in chemistry and physics class while also turning wrenches in auto shop. Not hard to dial these up pretty far once you understand how boost and fuel flow work.

1952 M38A1 army jeep

1952 M38A1 Jeep side view
Hagerty Community/MikeOD

It might have looked like “MikeOD” was taking his ROTC commitments a little too seriously, but he obviously looks proud of his 1952 M38A1. Rightfully so, as that was probably the most capable car in the parking lot. How did manage in the winter? Well, maybe he lived in a milder climate, or maybe there was a second pair of insulated coveralls for slushy road use. Either way, this rugged ride was cool.

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