How to Be Happy With the Car You Drive

by Marcus Brotherton on November 26, 2012 · 271 comments

in A Man's Life

The author with his first car, c. 1990

Every man dreams of driving a Lamborghini, Lotus, or Land Rover. Sometimes we think a new ride will make us more of a man. If the urge for a different set of wheels is a constant in your life, a change of perspective might be all that’s needed to see your car in a new light.

Last month, my wife and I traded in what we’d been driving. It was a sporty, red, 2009 Pontiac Vibe, basically a rebadged Toyota Matrix. We loved that car, and it fit our needs for several years. But the time for change had come. In its place, we bought a Toyota Sienna. Yep, you heard right—

minivan.

The swap was prompted by the fast-approaching birth of our third child. Our blessed addition is due this spring, and three kids equals a need for a kid-hauling vehicle.

I moped around for a week, thanking my lucky stars for the practical new wheels, yet feeling strangely middle-aged and dandruffy. A minivan was something I swore I’d never drive.

I imagined my face morphed onto Clark Griswold’s in National Lampoon’s Vacation. He was driving a wood-paneled station wagon back in 1983. But when Christy Brinkley pulled next to him in her Ferrari, you could see the insinuation: the men who drive what you drive only go to Walley World.

Then I got to thinking. From a certain perspective, a minivan is respectable. In fact, not only respectable, but cool. At my age, I’m no longer fast nor furious. I run in business-oriented author-circles, and I’m not trying to be elite street-racer/ ex-convict Dominic Toretto. Frankly, I don’t have his abs.

So what’s respectable about the minivan? It correctly fits the stage of life I’m in right now. A confident man knows who he is, and isn’t trying to be anyone other than his authentic self.

That knowledge goes a long way toward a man feeling good about the vehicle he owns.

Consider the seven main vehicular stages of a man’s life:

1. First Cars

A first car is a young man’s ticket to freedom. It might be an absolute jalopy, but at least he isn’t catching a ride to the fall dance anymore with his date in the backseat and his mother behind the wheel.

A first car is about more than dating freedom. It’s the Gentile equivalent of a bar mitzvah, a coming-of-age mark of arrival. If you drive your own car, you’re no longer a boy . . . you’re a young man. First cars crank up responsibility. You buy your own gasoline. You learn how to fix a flat tire. You find a part-time job to pay for the insurance.

Ask any man about the first car he owned, and you’ll always get a story. I bought my first car as a senior in high school. It was a 1972 Volvo 164E. I put surf racks on top, and when I headed off to college, I could get everything I owned either in it, or on it. It might have been a Volvo, but I rode with style.

2. Cars of Limited Responsibility

This stage does not mean a man is irresponsible. It means he’s begun his first real job, has discretionary income, and has no one to support but himself. If he sinks a ton of cash or time into his vehicle, no one objects.

A man with limited responsibilities doesn’t need to haul anyone anywhere. Maybe a girlfriend on a date. Or a buddy on a road trip. But there are no infant car seats. Only the top down and the open road.

I drove two different cars during this stage—a two-seater Honda CRX and, later, a Jeep Wrangler. Both great cars.

3. Cars of Financial Necessity

Enter wife. Mortgage. Kids. Job changes. Debt reduction. All the adult responsibilities of a man’s life. In this stage of vehicle ownership, a man doesn’t necessarily drive what he wants. He drives what he needs.

That’s highly respectable, nothing to apologize for. He recognizes other things his money needs to go toward besides a car, so he voluntarily drives what works best for his family’s budget.

I drove several cars during this stage. A brown Honda Accord for awhile—dull, but highly practical. And a near vintage Mazda pickup truck—17 years old. It was dented and scraped and the heater didn’t work well in winter. But I bought it off a mechanic. That old truck drove without a hiccup for five years.

4. Cars of Familial Necessity

The size of a man’s family will often dictate the size of a man’s car. In this stage, you may or may not like your vehicle, but because of your family, you need to drive the car you do.

We’re in this stage right now with our Sienna. Sure, there’s a stigma attached to a minivan, but the kids love that thing. Already they’ve each claimed their seat in the back. They have room to stretch out on trips. And they’re eager for the baby’s arrival—anticipating who gets to sit next to the new addition.

If you’re driving a car out of familial necessity, drive it with pride, man. You’re doing the right thing.

5. Cars for Work

Times exist when a man needs to drive a certain vehicle only because he’s got a certain job. You might be an easy-riding movie star who needs to drive a Harley Davidson. If so, good for you, Peter Fonda.

But most men have everyday professions. I’ve got a buddy who commutes 50 minutes each way to work. He drives a Prius for one reason only—good gas mileage.

Respect.

6. Cars of Arrival

A time may come in a man’s life when he has enough disposable income to drive any car he wants. Within parameters of work or retirement, he can drive the car he’s always longed for.

A car in this stage doesn’t need to be flashy or even new. A friend owns a 1965 Mustang convertible. Sure, it sits in his garage most days. But the car represents pride of ownership. It’s a badge of honor for a job well done on some solid real estate investments he made.

Another man recently purchased an all-wheel-drive Honda Pilot. He wanted a vehicle that he and his wife could safely drive to see their grandchildren—six hours away over snowy roads in winter.

That’s a vehicle of arrival too. He loves the car because it accomplishes exactly what he wants it to do.

7. Last Cars

One of my grandfathers died at age 91. In the months before his death, he was so frail he could barely speak. But he still had a driver’s license. He hadn’t used it for two years. Yet he was proud that he could still—in theory—legally drive.

My other grandfather moved into a retirement home in his late 80s. He sold his last car to a grandson, then went out the next day and bought a mountain bike.

He didn’t ride his bike more than twice. But he kept it, he said, “in case I need to go somewhere in a hurry.”

The principle? A man likes to have wheels. Period.

No matter what kind of car you drive, you’re bound to have certain feelings about your vehicle. It’s helpful to know you’re driving the right car for whatever stage of life you’re in. The right car fits each stage of a man’s life. So drive on, men—

and drive proud.

What car do you drive right now, what cars have you driven at different stages of your life, and what car do you hope to drive one day?

________________________________

If you’ve enjoyed Marcus Brotherton’s occasional guest posts over the years, you’ll be pleased to know that he’s joining us as one of our regular writers and will be contributing an original article to the site each month. Marcus is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of more than 25 books, including We Who Are Alive & Remain, with 20 of the last surviving Band of Brothers. He also blogs at Men Who Lead Well. I have long enjoyed the insights Marcus has gotten from his numerous interviews with WWII veterans, and his view on life, and we are privileged to have him as a regular contributor here. Please welcome Marcus aboard!

{ 271 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martin Wagoner November 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I drive a 1994 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 that my grandfather bought brand new in 1993. Every male on my father’s side has driven this truck at some point, and I am glad to carry on that tradition. When my son is old enough he’ll get it.

2 David H. November 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Welcome aboard Marcus! I’m at a very similar stage of vehicular life.

First car was a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Esprit with a 301 small block V8 and (unfortunately) 4 speed automatic tranny. After watching Smokey and the Bandit as a kid, a 1977 Trans Am was my dream car and this was about as close as I could get.

Looking forward to reading more of your material.

3 Christopher November 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I’m 17, so I’m currently driving my first car. A dark green 1999 Honda Accord. I drive 45 minutes to school in a rural area, so the gas mileage is great for the price of the car.

4 Adam B November 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

My first car was a early 90s Geo Storm I bought off of my first college roommate for 100 dollars. It was terrible. Rust everywhere and some of parts were literally held together with duct tape. It blew a head gasket within two months of me owning it. I never talked to my roommate again.

My current car is an 08 Mazda 3. Its not flashy by any means, but it gets me from home to work reliably every day. One day (when the wheels fall off of this one) I hope to drive a car with a bit more cachet to it.

5 Mike November 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm

What about motorcycles? Although, I suppose, that could fit in a couple stages (limited responsibility and arrival).

6 Andrew November 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I’m on my third jallopy, going through college, and basically still in the first car stages. Each one gets slightly better though. Some day I will drive an “arrival” car. Right now I’ve driven a 1995 Pontiac Grand AM, a 1996 Geo Metro, and right now I drive a 1996 Dodge Neon. None of them are great cars, but they run. And get me to school and work, as for vehicle pride, I try not to think about it too much haha.

7 E.W. November 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Loved the post! My first was a Jeep Wagoneer, lasted 3 weeks then had to be replaced by a 79 Malibu…graduated College and splurged on a new wrangler, joined the Army and went with a Stratus R/t…several speed tickets and some trips overseas, back to a Wrangler, it’s got problems but by god I OWN it! And that’s enough for now

8 Hunter November 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I am 17 and in stage one and I drive a Toyota RAV4. Though I might get a Subaru Outback when my brother takes the car back to college with him.

9 Selleck November 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

My first car was an old Jeep model CJ-7. I absolutely loved that car, and I still do now. This Jeep, now a little advanced with some off-roading equipment, can go pretty much anywhere! I love washing it after a long day of driving in mud, crossing through forests, then applying a nice wax to keep it looking “brand new.” I would never trade this Jeep for a new Wrangler but I might add a good Willy’s that our G.I.’s used.

10 Danny November 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I am a 20 year old college student. My university is some 450 miles from my home. My parents bequeathed to me their old 2004 Toyota Highlander when I graduated from high school. It has been the PERFECT vehicle for me. It gets good gas mileage (for an SUV) on those long trips home, and I can fit all of my possessions in it when I move in and out each school term.

My first car was a 2005 Saturn Ion. It had all the basics, and the BEST air conditioning. The inside temperature of my car would be about 110 degrees when I’d walk out to the school parking lot to drive home at 2:30pm every afternoon.

11 Greg B November 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I drive a 98 Subaru Outback I saved from the junk yard. After my BRAT rusted apart I went on the hunt for another Subie. Found it by chance, paid $500 to take it home and $2K to rebuild the engine that was sitting in the back. It is my work car but would not trade it in, tho hoping for a 2009 OBW or a 2010 WRX.

12 Atlas Kimbrough November 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I’m 17 and a senior in high school. I’m driving my first car, a blue 1997 Ford Escort. I call her the Teal Temptress.

13 Texian November 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I have had a few cool vehicles in my life, but just a few. The best one I ever had was a 4 cyl, 1997 Nissan 4WD pickup. A second child took that one away from me, and put me in a 1997 Ford F-150 with the 3 doors and a back seat.

Currently I drive a 2002 Nissan “Desert Runner”. 6 cyclinder, 5 speed, and roll up windows. The only improvements I have made is adding an aftermarket stereo receiver with a plug in for my phone, so I can listen to audiobooks on my way to and from work.

174K miles, and the body only shows minimal wear on the paint. No dents, no rust. Looks macho enough for a 45 year old man, and has cost me next to nothing to maintain over its life. If, and when, the engine goes in it, I will likely just stick in a rebuilt engine and keep it going.

I like cool stuff as much as anyone, and maybe this truck has a bit of cool factor due to it if only because of the age and the condition. But mostly I don’t need a car note if I can avoid it, and this truck does everything I can ask of a truck. If I really need to strike a cool note, my 05 Superglide with 18″ apes takes care of that…..

14 Josh November 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I’m 19, still driving my first car. It’s a red 2001 Subaru Forester that’s had almost every part replaced at one point or another. Even though it handles like a battleship in the winter (and may have relocated a couple of road signs), I still love it.

15 Dan K November 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm

What about single guy with no real financial responsibility that just drives a old truck because he doesn’t need something flashy to pull chicks?

16 Nathan M. November 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Dear Marcus,
Are those B.C. plates on your car in the photo? Great read! It’s very encouraging to a young man like me to be patient and content with the stage of life and car that may come with it.
All the best.

17 Mike November 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I definitely drive a car of limited responsibility. After graduating from UGA and landing my first job, I bought the car I’ve wanted since I was thirteen: a Honda S2000

18 Han November 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

The stigma around minivans is based on insecurity. If anything, it takes someone who is supremely comfortable and confident with himself to drive a minivan and readily admit to it. I drive an AWD Sienna because we need AWD around the mountains of Utah, we need the room for my ski racing kids and their teammates and gear, and we need to be able to haul building materials from Home Depot for my always ongoing projects around the house (it fits 4×8 and 2×4 upto 10′ long, and still close the rear door). I don’t need an off road vehicle, so a minivan makes much more sense. For 99% of people, this (or a wagon) is a far better option than an SUV. A minivan (or wagon) utilizes space far better and drives better around town than an SUV. The only legitimate reason to get an SUV over a minivan or wagon is if you travel off road for any extended amount of time. Otherwise, it’s about image and ego.

That said, our second car, now that the kids are older, is a 1999 Mazda Miata. It’s the complete opposite of our minivan. It’s my fun car that I can work on and modify, commute in, and occasionally get on the track with. Like the minivan, there is a perception that seems to persist around the Miata (a secretary’s or cheerleaders “cute” car). Of course, those people have never actually driven it.

I guess the bottom line is that you should look beyond the image and perceptions and buy the car that works for you. Your car in no way reflects your manhood (or lack of manhood).

19 Mike November 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Loved this article…can’t say I’ve approached it in a linear fashion due to having a kid later in life. The minivan was an ego blow and negative style points but after it was gone I kinda missed it. Still do at times.

20 Brandin November 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

My first car was a 1988 Honda Prelude that I bought for $1100 in the 11th grade. The owner thought it needed a new clutch, but really it just needed more clutch fluid. It ran flawlessly for 2 years. After that I bought a Toyota MR2 turbo which was a blast to drive, but because I was a student I couldn’t afford a winter car and I spun out on an icy bridge and crashed the MR2.

In my last year of university I bought what I’m still driving today, an imported 1993 Toyota Hilux Surf Diesel. I wanted something that would hold up in a Canadian winter, but still be a bit unique and interesting. Now I make more money and get tempted by new vehicles, but my Toyota never lets me down and I save a lot of money by driving an older vehicle. When the time comes to replace it I’m looking forward to getting something that meets my needs but also lets me indulge my car guy side at least a little bit!

21 Jake November 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

04 Jeep wrangler. Being a young Marine I’m in the limited responsibility category. But I also drive it because I genuinely love it. Always wanted one but I always needed a pickup truck for work. Now that my work no longer demands an eight foot bed, I drive my dream vehicle and can put all my extra money that doesn’t go to bills or savings into upgrades that make my Jeep uniquely mine. I love the versatility of wranglers.

22 Ethan November 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’m currently in the “Cars of Financial Necessity” category. A 2002 Ford Escort. I have a wife, no kids yet, and lucky enough right now to not be in debt. I just have some financial goals and a car payment right now would slow the process down.

A car does not a make a man. A Man makes the car. If you drive a jalopy that runs, be proud. A car need not be a status symbol or the measure of one’s manhood.

23 Gerald November 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Sold my Mercedes S-Class Last Week.

“A car does not a make a man. A Man makes the car. If you drive a jalopy that runs, be proud. A car need not be a status symbol or the measure of one’s manhood.”

Agreed. But advertising and society try to keep another illusion up.

A Mans Car is a driving Machine – a vehicle. Keeping it well maintained and safe for traffic is the main thing.

24 Greg November 27, 2012 at 7:16 pm

When I was a teenager my dad had a 10 year old 1985 K5 Blazer. It was traded out of the family until about a month ago. I got it back just a little after my third child was born. that big bench seat sure is nice for kid hauling. My wife and I dated in this truck and now its mine. I guess it could be considered my car of necessity, or my arrival car…I’m so happy to have it back.

25 Mike November 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I’ve had the same 99 Civic for the first 4 stages. Still going.

26 Andrew November 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I am in that first car stage, because I am 16. I drive a 1967 Mustang. I love it, and it runs amazing. To me, it is a Lamborghini or Ferrari.

27 JD November 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I currently drive a 2006 Scion xB. Small, nimble, cheap on gas, and able to swallow everything I owned while I was in college. My fiance will take it over when we get married and I’ll find some beater to take to work on the days my Sportster isn’t practical transportation.

28 Jon November 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Just had to turn in my first car. It was a 1997 Chevy Lumina. It ran terribly for three agonizing years and this week I got to replace it with a 1999 GMC Sierra. I bought the truck off a reputable mechanic in my area and it’s brand new under the hood. I plan on running this thing til the wheels fall off.

29 Tac November 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I’m definitely in between the stages of financial necessity and limited responsibility.

I started out with a 96 Lumina. Not flashy, but I definitely got everything out of her that was humanly possible to do, including some questionably legal and very dangerous racing on winding roads. Loved that car, until I got t-boned, then I still love it because it was enough car to save my butt from injury in that 45mph hit.

Went out and bought a brand new Altima in 06 after the old girl was no more. Bought it because I could afford it on a Marine’s salary and it was the manliest looking model of the bunch. Six years later it’s paid for, in good condition, and I still drive it daily. Mostly because I bought a toy and I don’t want to spend the money to replace her. I figure she’s got three more good years left, and I might push in a fourth or fifth if I get a work vehicle in there.

I also bought a Harley. Definitely my fun vehicle, and my summer daily driver. It might be my arrival car….or I might get to get one of those later on. It has opened me up to a whole new world, and if I get an ‘arrival car’, it will definitely be a motorcycle….

30 Tim November 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Get ready…..1977 Pinto…..I can’t even describe the paint….metallic sunset??….first care….grade 10, $750. Then onto a Jeep CJ7 8 cylinder. Been driving VWs into the ground ever since.

31 Ryan November 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm

My first car: a Bondo gray 1993 Hyundai Excel I purchased for $1,100 when I was 17. It didn’t have any accoutrements except for a cd player I installed myself. I appreciated it for the simple fact I no longer had to ride the bus during high school. It lasted a year before the transmission went out on it.

My second car: 1986 Dodge Ram pickup truck. This was a hand-me-down from my dad. The truck was in worse condition than the Hyundai as it didn’t have any power features, air-conditioning, heat or even a working radio. I did like the comfort of the vinyl bench seat and the fact that it had an 8-ft. bed.

My third car: 1998 Plymouth Breeze. It was a four cylinder, purple sedan. Let’s just say I hated it. Enough said.

My current vehicle: 2003 Chevy S10. I purchased this truck in 2006 and it’s gotten me through college. It’s the first stick-shift vehicle I’ve ever owned so that’s provided me a lot of fun. If I could do over again I would’ve gotten the extended cab with a 6 cylinder.

I am in the transition for a career job and I hope to upgrade to something a little sportier before marriage and kids–hopefully a VW GTI or possibly the new Golf R.

32 Evan C. November 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I just bought my first car. Its a 1948 kaiser special. It is an awesome car. Terrible on gas, but i have a good job in the summer. my step father and I are in the process of restoring it. Love the post too.

33 Josh November 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm

My first car was a 1994 Chevrolet Lumina Z34. Just a hair above 200hp, passed down to me by my Dad. Not the best idea, but he knew it from the start. I had it for 3 years before wrecking it, and moving on to a ’91 Dakota. Once I had an income, I got a 1995 Honda Civic DX. Then I moved cross-country to CA, and left it with my parents.

34 Sam November 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Wecome, Marcus! Great article. Currently diving an 02 Saturn L300, with a Chrysler T&C for the family. Eventually I’ll get back into my 71 Olds Cutlass convertible.

35 jsallison November 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Lessee, after finishing armor ait I received my bonus ($2,500 simoleons in 1975) and while home on leave paid up front for a ’72 gold malibu wagon with a 454/5-ish powerplant and a Hurst 4 speed on the floor. Smoked a friend of mine driving his dad’s maxed out Ranchero in 3rd gear, buahaha! Then there was a ’73 orange beetle, ’79 VW 412(?) while overseas, a ’78 Ford squaremont wagon that was creamed after stalling at an intersection and replaced with a ’78 squaremont sedan that I took overseas again. Bought my very first brand spanking new ’85 Berlinetta on the way back stateside. Later an anonymous Chevy something or other that was a badge engineered Subaru (must be a suppressed memory). During all this I was single. After marriage we had a ’90 5th Ave, a ’93 Ranger, mom-in-law’s 93 ram van (still have it), ’99 Bonneville (I’d buy another one if they were still in business) and now an ’07 Accord. Pretty much been all over the place.

36 jsallison November 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Take that back, the badge-engineered Chevy was an Isuzu I-mark

37 Marcus Brotherotn November 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Love reading these comments. Thanks.

@ Dan K. Yes!

@ Nathan M. –good eye, yes they’re BC plates on the Volvo. I grew up in Canada, then came to the States for college.

@ Han–respect the Sienna!

38 Chris November 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I went 1, 3, and am currently in a combo of 2 and 3 (no kids yet, but still practical).

My first car was a 1976 Corvette in bright yellow. It was a piece of junk, but man did it look good in high school. Then, to save money from all the vette’s maintenance, I jumped over to a 99 corolla; a better vehicle for graduate school in SF. Now we (wife and I) have a 2010 Subaru Forester for the dog and getting to the family cabin (off road a ways) and the Corolla has been replaced with a 2008 Camry SE V6 (Power!) only because mom has now upgraded to a 2012 BMW 335i (wow).

39 Josh November 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I currently drive a 1990/2 Volvo 240 Sedan. It is my first car and I love it. I was originally going to be handed down a 1980 Volkswagen Golf but a family member got it instead. I bought the car with my own hard earned cash and it runs like a champ. I am lucky it has all original parts even the original radio still works.

40 Karlo E. November 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I currently drive the first car ever trusted to me by my parents. A Gold Buick Regal 2000 LS from 1999. It used to be a company car for my dad a few years ago, but he purchased it from the company when he got a new one and it sat for a few years before I was able to drive it.

It may have a few dings and dents, and all but the driver’s power window don’t work, but man I would choose that car over anything out there right now. It provides a smooth ride, great responsiveness and it’s awesome to drive in. I dream of perhaps one day getting around to fixing her up and up to showroom condition, even if just as a show of gratitude and accomplishment to my parents, and the chariot they provided me with.

41 Andrey November 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Still a senior in high school, I will get my mother’s car, a Toyota Camry XLE 1996.
Personally, for some reason, I am fascinated by Subaru and Nissans. As long as the car I have runs smoothly, it is a car worth driving; a car in my opinion shouldn’t be a status symbol.

42 Tyler November 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I’m a 20-year-old senior in college, and I’ve been driving my 1998 Saturn SL1 since I was 16. I’ve put at least 50,000 miles on it, and it still runs like a champ, even though high school me ran it a lot harder than he should have. Sure, the transmission has its hiccups, and you need to jiggle a wire to get the defroster to work, but it gets me where I need to go, and I love it.

I’ve been thinking of upgrading to a Chevy Volt, but that probably won’t happen until my girl’s wheels fall off.

43 bruce November 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

1- in 1977 got a 1965 chevelle for 100 bucks, an austin healy sprite. then a serious of the famous dodge darts and valients, then a datsun 510 wagon- very modified and kicked ass. 4 different motorcycles while in long college, a couple pintos thrown in, family vans etc. then volvos, now a 1996 Volvo 960 and a 2001 F150 4 door Lariat 4 x 4 one day a 1967 Austin Healey

44 Riley November 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Well, I bought my first truck a few weeks ago. Bought myself a 2007 Ford Ranger FX4 Level II. Couldn’t be happier.

I’ve taken it for a few spins off the road. I’ve ran it off the road and learned my lessons. I’ve been the chauffeur for friends, and the designated driver.

No room for dating in it though.

I’m happy to have it though, it’s not too big, but I have 4×4 and utility. Nothing more I could ask for, except for better gas mileage.

45 Matthias Kasparek November 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Very good article. However, in light of todays obesity epidemic and GFC, one ought to seriously consider a bicycle instead of a car. My wife drives our Hyundai getz and I get around on the pushbike. It is recommended that adults should exercise vigourously for 60 or more minutes PER DAY! With a road bike this is easy. Sorry, I’ll get off my soap box.

46 Nick November 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Soon-to-be owner of a ’94 Mazda Miata!

47 KDock November 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I currently drive three cars. 2 smarts and a KIA Soul in rotation. I’ve driven a 1964 Dodge D100, 1971 Porsche 911, Ferrari 599 and many more. I look forward to the day I no longer drive a car. My final car will be a limo.

48 David Lee November 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Never did attempt to afford a car, but I do share the same sentiments for small motorcycles. First was a Honda Wave 110 that was at the end of its life, a small gamble pre-job. After 3 Months of work, took a loan for a Yamaha LC. People tell me to ride a monster like the ER 600 N like my colleague, but then I tell myself the LC is luxurious as it gets,bang for buck, judging from my first run down Wave.

49 Branden November 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I’m 21 and lucky enough to have an aunt that had a car sitting around when I graduated. I drive a ’97 Ford Mustang Convertible. There isn’t a temperature that could force me to keep the top up on that car.

50 Bill November 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I’m 20 and I drive a 1974 super beetle. It looks a piece, but I bought it with my own hard earned cash when I was 17. I love that car.

51 Grant November 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Good article. I have feeling that car ownership is different here in Kenya and much of the rest of the world. Most will never own one! In the valley I live in with over 30,000 people there are perhaps seven or eight landrovers and Landcruisers and a few lorries and that’s it. I am blessed to have the privilege to drive a Landcruiser 80 series. While it’s a little squashed with my 4 kids (on our bi- monthly shopping trips) there is literally no other car I would rather be driving.

52 Daniel November 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I’ve taken a weird approach to all this. My first car was a 1989 turd-brown crown victoria. I loved it. When that finally died, I got a beat up ’95 explorer. I loved it too, but it was by no means dependable. I then bought my first and only brand new car (because I was getting married), a 2008 optima. This was the first time in my life that I felt comfortable driving on the highway for more than about 20 miles at a time, and it was an awesome feeling. Even though I loved the freedom of being able to drive anywhere with limited worry, the strain of buying an old, beat up house took its toll both financially and in vehicular practicality. My next purchase was a ’79 f-150, which I paid $1000 for (sold by a high school kid who was too embarrassed to be driving such a big old awesome truck). I drove that truck into the ground, and have since replaced it with my most primitive vehicle yet: a 1970 Chevy C10. No power steering, drum brakes all around, no a/c, and under the hood you would swear it was a tractor. It gets me from point a to point b, it’s incredibly easy to work on, and it allows me to set aside would-be car payments for rainy day cash reserves. I can’t complain.

53 Hank November 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

My first car was a little Renault. Ugly as all get out, but all I cared about was that it was a stick shift. I think every guy needs to have a stick shift some time in his life.
Now I have teenagers and am getting ready to move out of the minivan stage. And yes, I survived it. My wife and I both hated owning a minivan but just couldn’t argue with the practicality. So we sucked it up, and put a rack on top to try to make it as sporty as possible.

Thanks for the great article and it’s great to see you as a regular contributor to AofM … they’re fortunate to have you!

54 Philip Funderburk November 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Not being a “car” guy, I still found this post interesting..very good points made.

My first car, which I bought at 16, was a 1989 Mazda 626. Little 4 cylinder with manual trans that got great gas mileage.

Next I bought a 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport, lift kit, straight six, still my favorite vehicle to date.

My last car was when I got together with my wife and she couldn’t drive my jeep…a 2005 Pontiac G6…and I’m still stuck with this thing.

In the future I’m leaning towards a small pickup like a Ford Ranger for a small amount of haul, but still decent gas.

55 surfsalterpath November 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm

….

*****minivan*****

Most practical vehicle on the road. Period.

You win.

56 Paul McDonald November 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I drive a 2011 Ford Flex. It is a car for familial responsibility, as it can seat 7 fairly comfortably. We needed a 7 seater when I married my wife, since I came with 3 kids, and she came with one. However, my car is more than just a familial responsibility, as I made sure to get bluetooth, ipod, and certain luxury aspects (heated seats for my wife, even in the summer). Matching a car that meets your needs that can also meet most of your wants is key towards satisfaction and pride in what you drive.

57 Eric Justin Bates November 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I loved the article. My first car was a 1974 Dodge Dart. My favorite memory in that car was having a very attractive member of the girls basketball team ask me for a ride home because she couldn’t find a ride home. I went through my share, a 1993 Ford Ranger, a 1987 Lincoln Towncar(once fit 7 college buddies in that car,) a 1994 Dodge Ram, 1998 Ford Explorer, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, bought a brand new 2004 Ford Focus, a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am, a 2003 Ford Explorer, a 1984 Oldsmobile 88, and now a 2007 Chevy HHR. Each has fit in one of these categories.

58 Jeff Pyper November 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm

65 Rambler, 72 Toyota corolla, 77 Pontiac Gran Prix, 84 Honda Accord, 65 Ford F100, 8?Toyota Van, 8? Toyota Camry, 86 Jeep Cherokee, 72 Chev C30, 92 Ford Aerostar, 97 Ford Taurus, 96 Ford Aerostar, 99 Ford Ranger, 04 Chevy Venture, 97 Nissan Pathfinder, 83 Honda Shadow, Last 3 I still currently have. I think I forgot a couple in there. We had four children so we’ve had vans for 20 yrs. If at all possible gentlemen, learn to work on your own vehicles. You’ll save a ton of money and might even be able to help out some people along the way.

59 Matt B. November 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm

My first car was a late-80′s Honda Accord, which I managed to wrap around a telephone pole in bad weather. Through the rest of high school & college I drove a Buick Century and an ’88 VW Jetta that I shared with my sister. In grad school, I had my first car that I really bought on my own, with no help from the parents: a ’98 Nissan Altima.

Finally, I’m in the “Cars of Limited Responsibility” stage: ’10 Mk6 VW GTI, 2dr, DSG transmission, bright red, with some mods in the plans to give it that extra kick-in-the-pants. I love that car and will keep it until it just won’t go any more – even if I have to get a minivan before then to transport a family.

60 Luis November 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I’m 21, 22 in January, and about to graduate college in the final months of stage 1. I’m driving a 1980 Toyota SR5 pickup truck, no power steering, no A/C, and the heater is just heat coming from the engine, with bald tires, but I learned how to drive stick in this car. I’m gonna miss it, but man I can’t wait till I finally reach Stage 2.

61 caleb November 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm

remember – you will never get out of a car the amount of money that you put into it. value will always go down. That is why i drive an 86 F150 that gets 7-8 MPG – short commute. no payment. cheap insurance. helps with home repairs. use wife’s car anytime we are together.If the commute changes, so will the car. What i pay extra in gas i make up for in the lack of everything else. Plus, it is reliable and easy to fix.

62 Jonathan November 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I’m currently on my first car. Prior to me driving it my grandfather owned it. It is a late 90s, early 00s Camry (don’t know the exact year). To make it better it’s powder blue, you probably know the color.

I take pride in the car though. It is one of those cars that if you drive, you have to own it. I love how it drives and I honestly couldn’t say enough good things about it. Great car.

63 Chris G. November 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I graduated High school last year and my first real car that is mine that I’ve been driving is a 1989 Toyota Corolla All-trac that’s right an All-trac! Its an awesome car!

64 HP November 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Recently shifted to “3. Cars of Financial Necessity”… currently in a 2008 Scion TC.

First: Late 80′s Chevy Cavalier Station Wagon
Next: 1998 Chevy Blazer
Third: 2002 Subaru Outback Sport
First motorcycle : 1993 Kawasaki Ninja ZX600
Fourth: 2005 Saab 92x
Second motorcycle: 2003 Suzuki SV650s
Third motorcycle: 2002 Honda VFR
Fourth Motorcycle: 2005 Suzuki SV1000s
Fifth car (while owning the 92x): 1995 Mazda Miata

Sold the Saab 92x and the Miata, downsizing to just one car. I’ve only owned one motorcycle at a time, so I currently still have the SV1000s.

Geeze, now that I write that all out, I’m a bit surprised at the menagerie I’ve had… In fact the other day, my g/f and I were reminiscing and I realized I bought and sold 4 motorcycles in a span of 3 years (bike a year plan?).

65 Richard White November 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Seems like an awful lot of writing as therapy to help you deal with the fact you bought a minivan. My mom(!) also made a rule with herself that she’d never own one, and even with three kids we stuck to station wagons. When we left, she bought a Honda S2K. I guess what I’m trying to say here is, my mom is cooler than you.

66 Tyler November 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Hello, first time poster, but I’ve read the first book of The Art of Manliness and am currently reading the Manvotionals book. I found it hard to get past the cover of Manvotionals for many months, but having finally finished the Dark Tower and Harry Potter books I was running out of material for the year. There is some amazing information and experience shared there.

Anyway.

Current car is a 2006 Mazda 3, which is also the first real car I’ve purchased myself (with my wife). Previous owner was nice enough to buy it with all the extras. Good gas mileage, fun to drive, and so far quite reliable. Taught my wife how to drive a manual with this one, which was a fun time.
We paid it off quick and plan to drive it until they don’t sell new wheels to replace the ones that might have fallen off.

My daily driver is a motorcycle though, we only have one car and my bike. Suzuki SV650s, gets 55-60 mpg. I enjoy knowing that I have a lower impact on the road, take up less space, and am conserving fewer resources by driving that as often as I can to and from work. I only stop when the temperature is in the 30′s.

67 John L November 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

I have been selling cars for 17 years and am always intrigued by the cars that people choose. I have an old Ford stepside pickup, ready for work and play. My daily ride is a motorcycle, while cars may have many stages, motorbikes communicate one….freedom. Ride there.

68 Danny P November 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm

right now im in the car with no responsibility mode. i just got my first full time job so i bought a brand new hyundai genesis coupe paid too much and borrowed to much to get it. after screwing myself with that car payment im now planning on moving out of state with my girlfriend and gonna need the extra cash im looking to downgrade to my car of financial necessity now. im thinking maybe an old mazda 3 with 50,000 miles…. boo growing up

69 Steve November 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

My very first car was a 96 Honda Accord which I got shortly after getting my license. Right now I’m driving a 01 Corolla. Far from what I call my dream car, but thank God for it’s gas mileage. One day, I hope to get or restore a Nissan 240Z.

70 Ron T. November 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I’m 19 and at college, so for two years and whenever I’m home, I drive my dads old 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis LS. It was the last car my dad drove before he passed away, so whats special about that car to me is that it was m dads.

71 Brian M. November 28, 2012 at 12:30 am

My first car was a ’96 Ford Taurus that I bought for a grand off my cousin. Say what you will about it, but I managed 280k miles before the trans (literally) exploded on rt 46 in NJ.

Then it was a ’93 Mazda RX-7 with some serious work under the hood. I loved that car to its death when I blew an axle on the track and hit the wall, blowing the rest of the car.

Right now I’m driving a big ’05 Ford FiveHundred car of necessity. Middling on gas, middling on appearance, and middling on power, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t the most comfortable and spacious sedan I’ve ever driven. Plenty of room for anything I need to do and at 160k miles no repairs or work done other than routine maintenance.

72 mike c November 28, 2012 at 12:53 am

i currently have a 1999 dodge dakota, it has 227,400 miles, personally i dont like driving a pick up truck but its helps out since ive been placed back in stage 3 since the sinking of the economy i had been in a stage 6/2 before hand, tough times lead to tough choices, but you gotta do what you gotta do the truck helps me earn money in these hardtimes with my plumbing side jobs, collecting scrap and delivering phone books. plus i do the tune ups and maintence on the truck so i have it in good running condition.

73 Jerry November 28, 2012 at 1:32 am

1st car was a 1959 Ford Galaxy ragtop bought in high school for the big sum of $750(1964.)Today I’m driving a 1996 Olds Bravada SUV that I bought new.Still runs well,no reason to get rid of it.

74 Brian S. November 28, 2012 at 1:46 am

My first vehicle was the family pickup, a white 1989 Ford Ranger with rust spots everywhere and over 200,000 miles on it. And to this day, I have not found a truck that warms up faster than that Ranger. The heater kicks serious butt! It’s a manual transmission, which I personally believe is important for every man to know how to drive, it’s come in handy quite a few times; Now it;s my brother’s car.

I upgraded to a red 1999 Ford Ranger when I left for college. It serves my purpose. I can haul stuff, or I can carry a few people, it gets decent gas mileage for an automatic, and it has never once left me sitting. I hope to have that thing until it falls apart.

75 Lee November 28, 2012 at 1:49 am

I guess I’d be in stage 2 but I don’t plan on ever getting out of it, its my hobby. Currently I have 3: a 2010 F150 with a 8″ lift that’s my current daily driver, a 2001 Z28 Camaro 6 speed with a few mods and full suspension, and a 2001 GMC Sierra that is my baby. Its stripped down to a cab and frame but has a fully built engine/trans, custom suspension, and more modifications than I care to remember.

I’ve been thinking lately of switching it up and doing something different but came to the realization that I’ll always have too many vehicles for my own good, its a sickness but I love every minute of it.

76 Britaliano November 28, 2012 at 2:04 am

We moved to Switzerland four years ago and as we had a house in quite a rural location, we looked for a car so that my wife coule get around and feel a little less isolated.

Another expat was selling his family car, a 2001 Fiat Multipla.

Google it.

Not most people’s idea of handsome car!

Over the next few months this car got us through Swiss snow across mountains and motorways over four countries with ne’er a complaint.

When we moved house, it saved us around a thousand bucks on movers because of the amount we were able to shift ourselves in “the dolphin”.

She now has the luxury of an indoor garage and only used at weekends but she is the car we used to drive our baby boy home.

We don’t really need the car anymore as we are more centrally located but that beautiful dolphin is going nowhere.

77 Cam November 28, 2012 at 2:31 am

I drive what I choose, for reasons that are important to me. That’s what a man does.

Someone who chooses what they think will impress others, is often just a juvenile trying too hard to be liked. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about someone in public eye who needs to have a clean tidy reliable vehicle to present a professional image, such as a real estate agent who takes clients to view houses in his car. I’m just talking about those showoff fellows, you know the ones.

As for me? I ride a motorbike, because it’s so darn enjoyable that just riding it, makes life better. Sure, it’s super-convenient in traffic and parking, and reasonably economical too. But I bought it because it is an adventure every day. It takes the drudgery out of living; anyone who tells you they ride for practicality and economy and convenience, is not speaking the full picture.

As for responsibility for family and carrying loads, I’m lucky enough that our family has a second vehicle for those occasions, a Volvo wagon. Problem solved.

78 Michael M November 28, 2012 at 2:40 am

I’ve driven nothing but “sport” cars my entire life, so has my wife, until recently. I do still own my first car, a 1990 Honda CRX, which has gone through a partial restoration, and spent time as a dedicated track car; it will probably be in our family for a long time (12 years so far).

The birth of our first son prompted us to purchase a Honda Pilot for my wife to drive, and we do love it, great vehicle; and I am in the process of selling my 1990 BMW 325, which has already been replaced with a 2000 bmw 3 series wagon ( yes, with manual tranny ) .

I am in my 30′s, and in the middle of a 5 year Professional Architecture program, and find it extremely amusing that i’m “that” guy, with all the cool cars among the younger crowd. It is somewhat refreshing to be moving over to more mature vehicles, it just feels right. Don’t get me wrong though, I will miss my sport’s cars, and already have plans to purchase a replacement once I graduate, my “arrival” car!

79 Benjamin hatton November 28, 2012 at 2:46 am

My first car was a 1986 Dodge Grand Caravan I got it from my great grandfather in 2002. the previous 10 years has been spent driving no more than 20 miles an hour 10 blocks to the nursing home everyday to feed his wife, followed by putting back home to hook up the boat for a two and half hour mid afternoon fishing trip. during this trip he kept everything that was foolish enough to bite many times I was company. Two days after I started driving the beast the transmission literally fell out and skated along the pavement. I guessed grandpa neglected to tell me that he had never changed any order fluids or anything, and as a 16 year old I did not care, even know I’d worked on a farm for a few years already in new very well better.

80 belligero November 28, 2012 at 2:59 am

Cars are generally a pain in the nuts. This North American obsession with them is one of the reasons that it’s not that fun living most places there. You shouldn’t really need one, but 90% of the continent is screwed because it’s made itself dependent on them. Lame.

81 Gerhard November 28, 2012 at 3:31 am

My freedom came from a motorcycle in my high school years and then a Toyota Conquest.
Many cars later and being a massive cars enthusiast, I strongly believe that the car you drive has the same effect as eg. the clothes you wear. Wear tailored clothing and you feel more confident. Drive a certain type of vehicle and it changes how people perceive you. Its like a good hair cut, walking upright – you get the point.
A car doesn’t make the man, but we men will always be drawn to them. The best car to own is the one that is payed off

82 JB November 28, 2012 at 3:55 am

First Car: 1988 Chevy K5 Blazer, it was so rusted it had no shocks, only leaf springs and if you took the panneling off on the inside you could see through the truck. It had a V8 and got 9 miles to the gallon. With the 35 inch tires, you aimed it you didnt steer it. When you changed lanes, there was no negotiation, just a statement, people moved. Easily my favorite vehicle. I once pulled a 40ft fallen pine tree out of the woods by the top. Each branch caught another tree and snapped off. The Blazer didnt care…the Blazer just did.

College: 1999 Honda Civic VP aka Honda Hotel. Little four banger that was the hotel of choice for all of our road trips, 2 comfortably. Breakfast was always served in bed, when you reached between the seats and pulled out the PB&J sandwiches you packed the day before. I learned a lot about life and women in that car.

Currently: 2006 Volkswagon Jetta. 6 years old with 163,000 miles. The transmission is starting to slip and my tear ducts are starting to fill. Got me through being a young dumb adult into a semi-respectable one. I am thinking about graduating to the 2013 Volkswagon Jetta Sportswagon TDI for the roof rack to support my cycling addiction.

Project Car: 1980 CJ7 258 inline 6. Love it, hate it, crave it, need a tetinus shot to be around it.

83 Kevin M November 28, 2012 at 4:08 am

1996 Nissan Maxima
to
2002 Nissan Sentra
to
2004 Audi Allroad

Have to give up the Allroad in Spring/Summer 2013 and will look at something between steps 2/3.

84 Dave C November 28, 2012 at 4:20 am

Five years ago I bought a new Dodge Charger. I was in my mid forties and in a position to be able to retro. I recently traded it in for a crossover and have no regrets. The Charger was great but I’ve moved on to a vehicle with greater visibility and comfort, and I okay with that. I’m curious to see what I pick out in a few more years.

85 Rusty November 28, 2012 at 4:25 am

My first car at 18 years old (2005) was a school bus yellow 1971 MGB GT for $2500. Drove it 600 miles home, sight unseen, and didn’t miss a beat.

It never died on me, taught me how to wrench, and got me through most of college before I sold it for a ’61 MG Midget. I drove my MGB from Vegas to LA once a month to see an ex girlfriend for two years. It ran like a top every time.

I love classic European sports cars but I’m in my motorcycle phase at the prime age of 25. The coffin I drive if I can’t take the bike is a trusty ’99 Honda Civic. It does the job…

86 Barbie November 28, 2012 at 5:00 am

Great article! At college in my country bikes and motorcycles outnumber the automobiles. I have my own and it allows me to go to places where cars can’t reach. Hikes with friends to the nearby mountains are always fun and it’s a great exercise too!

87 Claude Warner November 28, 2012 at 5:25 am

One of my more “interesting” purchases was a VW Kombi Hi Roof Panel Van. I had aspirations of starting a food truck business, but in the meantime my wife had to drive it. It had a 4 into 1 exaust and sounded (as opposed to looking) very cool. When my wife used to pull up at our daughter’s playschool with the exhaust burbling, all the little boys used to run to the window.

Some things never change.

88 Tomás November 28, 2012 at 5:25 am

My first car was an Audi TT Quattro I bought while I was a exchange student in Poland. I absolutely loved it (4WD and 225 horsepower…), girls loved it too ;) and also used it to make the trip back to Spain loaded with all my stuff, and then sold it at a profit. So basically my first ride was a sweet one and I got money out of it!

With that money I got a Toyota MR2 Spyder, which is a joy to drive with the top down here in sunny Spain, and actually gets more looks than Porsches as it’s a completely unknown model around here. I have made the decision to keep and maintain this car for as long as I can, even if later I need to get a more family oriented car. A man has a right to his toys too! And this one is very reliable, has low maintenance costs, sensible gas mileage (around 30 MPG) and cheap insurance, while commanding more the attention than cars 20x more expensive in all fields.

89 Kirk November 28, 2012 at 5:42 am

Sorry dude. Mini vans are frumpy for both men and women and no way around it. An SUV meets the same need and carries a much higher testosterone count.

90 Brian O'Keefe November 28, 2012 at 5:45 am

My first car was a ’76 Mustang (V6). It was already 8 years old when I got it as a freshman in college in ’84, and it was totally rusted out, but it was MINE. And since I was a poor college student, I had to learn how to fix everything that went wrong with it, which was most of the time. One of my main motivators in college was to be able to afford a nice car upon graduation. I factory ordered a Dodge Daytona C/S (turbo) over spring break and picked it up with two weeks remaining in school. Luckily, they gave out car loans with proof of job acceptance, even though I hadn’t started school. I like sporty cars, and even though our other car is a minivan, my car is a 2003 VW Jetta GLI (200hp). It’s sweet! I hope my next car will be a Dodge Challenger.

91 Cephas November 28, 2012 at 5:57 am

“Sold my Mercedes S-Class Last Week.

“A car does not a make a man. A Man makes the car. If you drive a jalopy that runs, be proud. A car need not be a status symbol or the measure of one’s manhood.””

I had a couple Old Benzes in stage 2. Loved them, but managed to smash them both…

Now the bicycle theme could be expanded. I’ve known a few guys who started riding after losing their driver’s license or getting it revoked or whatever. It’s a cheap mode of transport, and in a city with public transportation, lends an marked step up in terms of independence, even from the public system, and dependability. Might be a good idea for a future post here!

92 Conor November 28, 2012 at 6:01 am

My first car was an 87 Buick Lesabre, it was like driving your living room down the road. Blew the engine up in it thinking it was a mustang, had to work off the cost of a new engine at the mechanic shop that put it in. After a couple of years I upgraded to an 89 Ford F-150 with the straight 6. I’ve had that for five years now, and it used to take me back and forth between Illinois and Ohio for college…wouldnt trade it for anything right now, I love the simplicity (has a coffee can as the charcoal canister from the factory) and the rugged reliability.

93 CoastRanger November 28, 2012 at 6:19 am

One way to be happy with the car your drive is to take good care of it. Lots of guys have the experience of detailing their car when they are about to sell it and wish they had kept it that nice all the time.

94 Brett November 28, 2012 at 7:14 am

I do love some good car talk. My first car was a 1987 Oldsmobile Calais GT. It was essentially the Olds version of the Grand Am. Something like 92hp but it had some factory ground effects and a sunroof. I totaled my first love. My 2nd was a 1990 Ford Probe LX. Man, that thing was sweet. Red. Huge sunroof. v6 and more buttons than the Batmobile. I had it through college and a few years after graduation. I should’ve kept that but I traded for a Mazda b4000 pickup. Great truck and it got some good use. Then, a 2003 Pontiac Vibe as my “I’ve made it” splurge. It was also a great car and accommodated a carseat really well. A terrible financial decision, though. Then my wife and I got on the Dave Ramsey plan and I’m driving cash cars now. I had a 95 Civic which met an untimely demise. I now have a 93 Civic 2-door that I adore. Runs like a top at 150k miles and and is perfect for my short commute. My wife has the minivan for anything more than my drive to work.

In there, I also had a 1993 Yamaha XT225 as a play vehicle in college. I sold it to get a wedding ring. There was also a 1985 Honda Nighthawk S. Then there was the 1972 Triumph TR6 that I never should’ve sold… [sigh].

Someday, I’ll pick up another motorcycle or a classic driver. I’m always looking.

95 Jim November 28, 2012 at 7:14 am

First car: 1976 AMC Pacer, aka “The Fishbowl.” Got it in 1988, cost $16 to fill up the tank, and that easily lasted 3-4 weeks. Wasn’t getting anywhere in a hurry, but I was getting there.

96 Darren November 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

Interesting thesis.
1. 1957 Volkswagen Bug. 36 hp.
2. 1984 Chevette. Renamed the “shove it.”
3. 1972 Delta 88, Green, “Sherman.”
4. 1983 VW GTI.
5. 1990 Toyota Corolla Wagon. “Blue.”
6. 1993 Camry. Too boring to name.
7. 1984 Volvo 240D. Beater. Loved it.
8. 1993 Toyota King Cab truck. “Red.” Favorite truck ever.
9. 1998 Toyota T-100. “T”
10. 2002 Toyota Sienna. Great car.
11. 1998 Subaru Outback – owned for a few months. Lemon.
12. 2007 Honda Element. “Brick.” Great car for a skank-hauling paddler.
13. 1997 Miata. “Scooter.” Scooter had a 8-pound supercharger and full suspension upgrades. We loved to humble Camaros and Mustangs.
14. 2009 BMW F650ST (motorcycle). “Bunbury.”
15. 2009 Toyota Corolla “Blue 2.”
16. 2010 Toyota 4-Runner. Bad choice. Too yuppy.
17. 2012 Toyota Tacoma. Hopefully the last car I will ever own (I’m 50 so that’s wishful thinking).

Interesting exercise, I had never done that before. All said, the simplest cars I’ve owned have been my favorites…my bug that didn’t have a gas gauge, my red truck with a bombproof R22 engine with no horsepower, my Honda Element with no carpeting, and my latest truck. The more expensive the car, the more uncomfortable I was in it.

97 Darren November 28, 2012 at 7:21 am

The best car I ever had started every morning. The worst car I ever had didn’t. That sorta sums it up for me. After 17 cars in 33 years, I think that still is the criteria that is most important.

Also, the simplest cars I owed have always been my favorite. My first car didn’t even have a gas gauge…it had the level you flipped with your toe when the engine sputtered…giving you another 25 miles. Time to find a gas station. It was a 57 VW Beetle.

98 David Y November 28, 2012 at 7:22 am

My first car was a ten year old VW Beetle during college. Second was an MG Midget(fun to drive on those occasions when it actually ran). Currently driving a boring but very reliable Accord. Maybe next one will be back to a fun machine.

99 craig November 28, 2012 at 7:37 am

Great article – brings back lots of memories. ’68 Chrysler Newport with the AM radio (and gas at 64.9 cents/gal). ’69 Cutlass (not a 442, damn!) with an 8-track; ’78 Jeep CJ-5 Golden Eagle with a bikini top (great for Chicago winters). Just passed the minivan stage and on to stage 5. Survived countless alternators, transmissions, and even the drive train of the jeep falling off on an on-ramp.

100 Kevin November 28, 2012 at 7:45 am

I’m 23, just moving into stage 2 where I’m trading my 2006 Toyota Corolla (first car, not the best but the thing has it’s stories) in for a new mustang. Probably stretching the budget a bit on it, but it’s the time in my life where I can do it. No real commitments, girlfriend’s christmas gift is really the extent of my commitments.

Great article though, thanks!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter