Hooniverse Asks: Did You Do Much Driving Before You Were Old Enough To?

When I was about 13 I used to ride all over town on a little Honda that belonged to my brother. I’m lucky that I never got caught or in an accident seeing as I had neither a valid license nor any insurance. The statute of limitations has long since passed on such transgressions so I feel no apprehension in sharing this now.
The impetus for this anamnesis was a story I heard last week about a 12-year old Australian kid who hit the road after learning to drive by watching a few YouTube videos. What a time to be alive. He only made it about 1,300 kilometers before the Po-Po pulled him over, but he’s still my new hero. Aussie boy is awesome, but I’d still like to hear if you have similar stories. Did you do any driving before you were old enough to do so? 
Image: Televisa News

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28 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Did You Do Much Driving Before You Were Old Enough To?”

  1. MJ Avatar

    I learned to drive in my brother’s Wrangler when I was 12 or 13. We’d stop at 7-11 after going to the beach, and on the way out he’d toss me the keys and tell me either I’m driving us home or we aren’t getting there. Can’t say that it didn’t work, although the cars behind me as I tried to pull away in first gear might disagree.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Not gonna lie here. I grew up in the rural hinterlands. I’ve been driving since I’ve been big enough to reach the pedals (on the gravel, and never during spring planting or fall harvest)
    I wasn’t a farm kid, so I wasn’t needed to drive – unlike MiSSus GTXcellent who had to make various runs between home and field.
    I’m also going to pass along this “miscreant” behavior to my boys – the eldest is already driving our Ranger (UTV) and as soon as he can reach the pedals, he’ll be on the seat of the John Deere

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      My story is basically the same. Started with go carts and lawn mowers, then started with cars, snowmobiles, and mopeds around 12-13 years old.

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    Not of any great significance in a car, but I’ve never had a motorcycle license and have ridden a fair amount on the street, sometimes at a very foolish multiple of the posted speed limit.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    Not on public roads. I did drive a boat a bunch, a full size Masey Furgeson tractor some, and a few times on the long driveway at the lake place.

  5. nanoop Avatar

    Back then, driving age was 18 years for cars, and 15 for 50cc “mofas”. It was common that the teenagers held the farm equipment in the furrow as a teenager, and drove it home, too. Then, the typical farmer had a much smaller tractor (and field area) than today, I won’t like to see a 14yo in command of a 5-ton 400HP behemoth going 35mph through the swings of my village.
    Me? Not a farmer’s boy, so I had only a few ten minutes behind the wheel before driving lessons started. I learned how (not) to use a clutch on a Fendt Farmer 2S. 45HP, and luckily a hydraulic converter in series to the clutch, which was necessary why pondering which of the ~12 gears to take next. Can’t damage these, though.
    Paid off, my driving instructor’s first words were: “You’re from the same village, you can do this already anyway. Drive.”

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Never. A guy let me start his car once, when I was about 11. Other than that, naught until I was enrolled in Venture Driver Training School (yes, the discount store chain).

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      I totally forgot about that driving school. I remember going to Venture with Mom from the farm growing up and watching you guys try do to stuff I had learned to doing before I was 12. Thanks for the memory.

  7. Sjalabais Avatar

    Nope, first, highly anticipated drive with the driving school.

  8. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Nope. Having grown up on dirt bikes, I thought I knew how to use a clutch. I was wrong. I understood the operation, but lacked the skill. When I was 14, a friend and I tried to take my mom’s car out for a short spin. Multiple stalls in a very short distance convinced us that our joyride was not going to work out. We never made it out of the driveway. Several more stalls getting the car back to the top of the driveway finished our adventure.

  9. crank_case Avatar

    A friend who lived in the wilds of west cork used to let me hoon his Dads old Austin Maestro round a field, we ragged that car so hard. There are probably a handful left on the road, I feel zero guilt about this..

  10. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

    When I was 14 or so, my father taught me to drive in a manual Ford Orion. We went from the basics to going 100mph on the newly-constructed runway at the boondoggle Knock airport, in County Mayo, Ireland. After that it was agony waiting for 16 and my license.

  11. Victor Avatar

    Had a running car in the yard when I was 15,snuck out with it every chance I got. Learned to drive young.

  12. ptschett Avatar

    I was mowing the lawn with the garden tractor at age 9 or 10; hooning around the farmyard on the ATV or the skid-steer loader and driving big 2WD farm tractors at 11. I still remember pulling a wheelie past my grandparents’ house in the IH 5288 as I went up through the synchro-tri-six’s gears on the way out to a field with the granular fertilizer spreader, and that tractor was traded for a Case IH Magnum by the time I had a license.

  13. tonyola Avatar

    When I was 14, Dad would take me on Sundays to large empty parking lots in the family ’68 Mercury Marquis and let me pilot this barge around (with him in the passenger seat) generally at low speeds. Just to give an idea of what I drove… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9d238b6f14e30db14711347ae0a68f08cdc9dbd0083ed2698044de46012995eb.jpg

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Nice Ride.

  14. hwyengr Avatar

    My dad grew up on a farm so his principles for underage driving were looser than most, and since my grandparents still lived on the farm there were plenty of opportunities. Starting at around 3, as soon as we got off of the highway and onto the country roads, I’d sit on his lap and steer.
    Our house was on a corner lot, and one summer day our ’85 Dodge minivan (cargo version, with 4spd manual!) was parked on the side without the driveway. I was 8, and my dad said “Let’s take the van around the block and so we can park it”, and tossed me the keys. He got in the passenger seat, of course. I got it moving, but shifting did not go well. “Let’s just keep it in first.” First day of school that fall I bumped into my old 2nd grade teacher who asked me what I learned over the summer. Naturally I told her that my dad taught me how to drive. My poor mother just closed her eyes and nodded.
    As I got older, I’d be able to drive between the main highway and my grandparents house. Which lead to the first day of behind-the-wheel driver’s ed., where I was the only person in my car to not hit a curb first time out. Which did not go noticed by our teacher. “I can tell you’ve driven before…”

  15. Alff Avatar

    I got my first ticket at 12. For driving without a license. My parents were not pleased. After that I didn’t do much driving until I got my license.

  16. onrails Avatar

    Lots. Hardly any on the road. Tractors, minibikes, and a sketchy go-kart on the farm in the summers when I was a kid, and I taught myself how to drive a stick (the tractors and sitting next to dad in the front of his pickup truck helped with that) by making and extra set of keys and driving around our neighborhood when I was 14. Still amazed to this day I wasn’t ratted out by the neighbors.

  17. neight428 Avatar

    A bit. We’d have some situation where we needed to drop off or pick up a car somewhere, and once I had my learners permit for a couple of months, I was at least at median proficiency for the driving public, so I would follow whoever was driving the other car, usually my mom or dad.

  18. ElricN Avatar

    I was 13 years old and even though I went around telling anyone who would listen that I actually owned a Mitsubishi Galant DE and even had a license to drive it, my family was actually of but modest means
    and my mother owned a 1998 or 1999 Kia Sephia, as basic and cheap as
    transportation gets.
    One day we were at my grandmother’s house, waiting for them to come back
    from running some errands or something, when my mom asks me if I want to help
    move the car. Dying to give my outlandish tales some credibility by being able
    to say that I had indeed successfully operated a motor vehicle, I jumped at the
    chance with ice-water-in-hell enthusiasm. The task at hand was to move the Kia
    about three or four feet forward in my grandparents’ side drive. The Kia was an
    automatic, and I know, manual is always the answer, but this is West Monroe,
    Louisiana circa 2003 and by this time I’m pretty sure stick shifts no longer
    existed there. So I put the car in Drive and I applied throttle.
    Now, at this age I could memorize trim levels and option packages for just
    about any car, but that knowledge does not tell you anything about how to
    actually operate a motor vehicle. I had floored it, the little Kia taking off
    with more vigor than it had accomplished before or since. Somewhere in crossing
    my grandmother’s yard, a ditch, her street (thank the maker no one was on the
    road, they are at the top of a blind hill and curve and that would have ended
    quite badly), another ditch, and entering the neighbor’s yard, I had gone from
    a stupid kid who had no idea what he was doing to a stupid, panicked kid
    who had no idea what he was doing. I retained enough instinct to know that the
    pedal on the left makes the car stop, so I floored that one, but I did so with
    my left foot, meaning I was now both feet in, the car speeding up to about 30
    mph on grass with no reduction in its forward motion.
    The car eventually stopped, about 100 yards from where I started, when I
    smashed into a tree about three feet from the homeowner’s bedroom window. The
    car had no sooner came to a halt than I threw open the door and ran, screaming
    and crying, seeking comfort from my horrified mother, only to find there was
    none to be had there. I sought such a modicum of comfort because I knew that my
    grandparents would soon pull up their driveway to see the neatly bifurcated
    front end of the Kia, bleeding coolant all over the concrete, and their first
    action upon getting out of their Buick would be to swiftly put an end to my short
    Indeed, within about five minutes of the crash, my grandparents’ white Buick
    pulled up in the driveway, past the Kia’s sad, punished form. My grandmother
    was the first to get out, freaking out and yelling as I fully expected her to,
    in PG-rated curse words. My grandfather, who at the time I was terrified of,
    and who possessed the above-mentioned life-ending power, got out next. He
    simply took one look at the car, one look at me, then put his hands in his
    pockets and walked into the house without saying a word.
    As you can see, I survived this incident, with only a really bad headache
    and a severely bruised ego. The Kia was repaired from about $1500 in damage,
    surviving with near-complete reliability for about three more years before we
    sold it. The sad thing is, that incident really dampened my enthusiasm for cars
    for most of my teen years. I ended up getting into computers and video gaming,
    and I didn’t even get my full license until I was 19.
    I’m Elric and this was my Worst Car Story.

  19. JayP Avatar

    Mowers and scooters until about 12.
    I hung up the scooter when I rode over a yellow jacket’s nest and was stung a few times. It sat for a while and never ran right again.
    Pop let me drive on the backroads home from church when I was 14. I didn’t get the bug to drive until I got that Beetle about 6 months before my 16th birthday. I’d take mom out for a drive with the learner’s permit. I’d drive about an hour every day for months. That was a good time.

  20. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Lots of farm vehicles between 9-14. Got my m/cycle and car licenses at 15 which you can’t do anymore here, now 16 is the youngest. Haven’t stopped driving/riding since.

  21. gerberbaby Avatar

    Older kid in town had a 75 vega wagon 4 speed. I asked him if I could take it for a spin in our small North Dakota town. Taught myself to drive a stick that day around town. I was 14.

  22. Brudawg Avatar

    When I was 14, I would take my dad’s Wagoner. I took it out one evening and ran out of gas. My friends and I pushed it home but were unable to parallel park it on the hill we lived on. We gave up and parked it down the street and I confessed when my folks got home. My mom ranted and raved about it but my dad stood back with a grin on his face. The next day he took me out and taught me how to drive saying if I was going to pull stunts like this I might as well do it right.

  23. Zentropy Avatar

    Off-road only, I started driving my dad’s late-70s E250 when I was 10. Dad didn’t mind as long as I kept it on our property, and I’d been riding motorcycles and go-carts since I was 5, so he didn’t worry.

  24. dukeisduke Avatar

    I didn’t, but I did get to try to drive a then-new ’73 Vega (three-speed manual) when I was 13. This was on a family friend’s rural property, with an adult riding shotgun. I didn’t get very far, since I could get it going without stalling it.
    My kid brother, on the other hand, did some of this. My mom, a widow, and full-time bookkeeper, worked in downtown Dallas and rode the bus to work, so the ’78 Malibu Classic was in the garage during the day. During the summer, when he was out of school (he was 15), he would take the car out driving, and even got into a minor fender bender, driving around the back of an Exxon Car Care Center that was a couple of miles away from my mom’s house. I was working full-time by then, when my older sister called me at work and said, “Did you know that ______ has been taking mom’s car out driving?” My sister just happened to run by mom’s house during the day, and discovered the car and keys missing. Oops.

  25. Hatchtopia Avatar

    I was 11 when my dad asked if I wanted to drive our 400 ci-equipped ’78 F-150 on a dirt road in the mountains of Southeastern Utah. It was a fairly regular occurrence after that – random hiking adventures or firewood collecting until we moved east to Missouri. The suburbs didn’t offer many open space opportunities so there was a gap of no driving between about 12 and 15 1/2. That and the F-150 didn’t make the move with us.