Does Your First Car Make You More Likely to Buy the Same Brand Later in Life?

I’ve had a few friends buy cars lately, and I had a random thought in relation to them: Does your first car make you more likely to buy the same brand later in life?

Here’s the foundation for my theory: Every brand of car has a different layout for the controls and core functions. If you drive a car when you’re young, it’s ingrained in you that this is a car. This is how you turn on the high beams. This is how you adjust the windshield wiper. This is how you pop the trunk.

So later in life when you’re scouting around for a car, vehicles within that original brand are going to feel more familiar and intuitive, while other brands aren’t.

Take me, for example. I didn’t have a car in high school, but my parents owned a 1992 Toyota Camry, and whenever I was allowed to drive, it was the vehicle I used. Years later I was in the market for a car. I tried several other brands, but they felt weird. Then I climbed inside a 2003 Camry, and I felt right at home. I’ve driven it ever since.

I’m wondering if other people have the same experience. If they do, I wonder if any car companies focus their marketing efforts and special promotions on being the first car for teenagers. If the theory is true, then if you can be someone’s first car, you might be creating a lifelong customer.

What do you think? What was your first car, and are you still driving that brand?