The very first car I drove, and also learned in for most of the time was a '81 Volvo 244 with a 3 speed automatic and no power steering. After about a year I started driving a N15 Nissan Pulsar Q (5 speed manual) which felt absolutely amazing in comparison. My biggest issue with the Volvo wasn't the marine-spec steering but the numb throttle which felt like there was a committee of dwarfs making the decision as to what to do with the throttle cable.
Actually, it wasn't a bad little car, the 1.8L, 79kW engine (a GM Family II engine) in a ~1000kg car was actually pretty sprightly with the 5speed manual. We owned it until late 2004, and it was still running fine (had about 300,000km on the clock), but it was full of rust by then.
I also drove my mum's old 1989 Ford Falcon (EA wagon) from time to time, but it was auto, so it doesn't count.
Instructors' cars? Well, first few lessons were in a Ford Festiva (ewww), but the car I got my licence in was a 1999 Daewoo Nubira (just as bad).
I learned to drive in a 1992 Ford Scorpio 2,9 GLX 4x4. This is the actual car, we still have it as it's very nice in the winter... The 4wd-system is pretty much exactly the same as what Audi calls quattro with a TorSen center diff, and a 60% locking diff at the back.
my dad's 1981 pontiac trans-am. it was metallic flaked silver with a black and red-trimmed phoenix. it had the 305ci chevy small block and a 4-speed tranny. i loved the shaker hood when i was little, and i remember asking my dad to rev the engine all the time. the car was saddenly stolen before i turned 16, and it had just 15,000 miles on it in the mid-1990's.
when i was like 6, my dad used to let me sit on his lap and steer his 1971 chevelle ss396. the 1970 and 1971 "396's" were actually 402ci, but "396" just stuck with the car. it was dark green, had a 4-speed muncie "rock-crusher", and bench seats. i remember the car having some massive amount of torque (atleast for someone of my size at the time).
I learned how to drive when I was nine years old in a dirty white 1991 Subaru Loyale Wagon 4WD, that I purchased for $50.00.
When it came time for me to actually drive legally with my learner's permit, I drove a number of vehicles:
My Volkswagen Vanagon - A really good vehicle to learn how to drive a manual transmission with, A touchy clutch with a two-foot-tall shifter made it so you could drive any manual afterward.
My 1970 Subaru 360 - Also a good vehicle to learn a manual with. Dog-leg shift pattern and a box-of-rocks transmssion make for some tense moments going uphill, but an extremely fun vehicle to drive that teaches you to get the most out of what you have (25 horsepower).
A massive Dodge Ram 1500 Conversion Van - Avoided at all costs.
A 1998 Ford Explorer (I passed my DMV test in it)
1993 Ford Taurus - Really fun to drive despite being American-built. A Ford from back when Ford made some good cars.
It all really depended on what was available when I needed to practice. I got one wrong on the written test (pointless mistake) but no faults on my driving exam.