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Article

WHEELS OF FORTUNE

FIRST CARS OF THE STARS

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At last, a book in which scores of celebrities reveal the juicy details-and unbridled thrills-of their first time! Okay, so it’s not that first time, but the first time each owned an automobile. Still, it’s a pedal-to-the-metal good read. In My First Car (Crown, $15), James Lecesne has collected stories by the famous about their loss of vehicular virginity. The people in this book recall their pre-fame jalopies with the kind of sweet nostalgia that’s usually reserved for a first crush. Johnny Carson proudly recalls having his earliest sexual encounter in a ’39 Chrysler Royal, while Art Buchwald’s first vehicle was a bomb truck he drove as a Marine. Dan Aykroyd owned a ’39 Dodge, prompting him and his college friends to sport double-breasted suits and play Benny Goodman tapes to look like WW II-era soldiers ”having a civilian night out.” As a teenager, Spalding Gray crashed his family’s ’53 Ford so badly it quashed his dreams of stock-car racing forever. Not everyone who’s driven to the top has had a youthful urge to burn rubber. Andy Warhol and Liberace didn’t get wheels until they were way past their teens. And then there’s Ralph Nader, who hasn’t owned a car in more than 25 years-and won’t again until the auto industry meets stricter safety guidelines. -Erica Kornberg