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 }

101 Clinton D. November 28, 2012 at 7:59 am

My first car was 1973 grand Torino. The car had rust spots and the leather seats were cracked and torn in some places and it was a gas hog but it was true freedom. Next was a 2006 sunfire, the car was beautiful but small but with my commute the gas mileage was worth it. Later after the death of my sunfire I purchased a variety of cheap 500 dollar cars because I couldn’t afford anything else until I got a great deal on a 98 riviera. That car was a money pit but I got every bit out of it. I just recently purchased a 2003 Rendezvous. Its nicer than anything I’ve owned before because now I’m at the stage in my life I can start to afford more things and be comfortable.

102 Robert November 28, 2012 at 8:03 am

I’m driving the same car at 35 as I did when I was 19 a 1997 Subaru Outback. Its getting up in years and it has issues, but it is a great car and keeps serving me well. It has seen a lot, marriage, living in a few states among other things Some day I’ll get rid of it, but I’m in no hurry to do so.

103 Mark Ruddick November 28, 2012 at 8:06 am

I got my arrival car a couple of years ago, 2005 Chevy Silverado 350hp. It does 0-60 in 5 seconds flat. You know what, I do miss my mini-van, it was so darn functional. Enjoy any car that starts in the morning.

104 Scott Walter November 28, 2012 at 8:07 am

My first car was a 1980 Z28 that the heat was permanently on in even during muggy Indiana Summers. I did so many donuts and 100mph runs down rough country roads im probably lucky to be alive. :) Now Im at the stage for both #3 and #4, I drive an ’04 Trailblazer that is fantastic, it has been very reliable and hauls a good amount of stuff when needed. When we have our first kid too it will still meet that need as well. I hope to keep it in our family for a long time. Great article!

105 T November 28, 2012 at 8:11 am

Good post.

My lovely first car was a 1984 Ford LTD mid-size station wagon. That blue beast – rigged up Pioneer tape deck and all – was my baby for most of high school during the late 90′s. I packed many a friend in the back. Dad was generous to lend her to me until the radiator went out.

From my last year of high school through starting my first job out of college I drove a ’91 Ford Ranger extended cab pickup. Loved that one, too. Drove from central NY to MN and back many, many times during college and got a surprising 24+ mpg on highway trips. I bought it used for $500, sold it for $500.

In my mid/late 20′s, I went several years without a car, living in central DC and walking/metro’ing all over the place. It was liberating not to worry about a vehicle and parking… I think everyone should live in a walk-able urban center for at least a few years. It gives you much more appreciation of our cities and your time.

Currently, although my commute is 5 minutes on foot. My wife and I have a respectable ’99 Honda Civic which we use mostly to drive out of town. This car is absolute utility when it comes to mileage, parking ability, and room to haul people and stuff – like couches. Just takes a few bucks to keep it running.

106 Philp L. November 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

Great article and loved reading all the posting from the AOM readers.

I’m 28 and have had quite a few cars in my life:
1) 1989 Chevy pickup with a manual no AC and no power windows/locks. Sold it with 225,000 on the clock.
2) 1989 Suburban (275,000 mi)
3) 1963 Buick Electra 225 (23,000 original miles)
4) 1999 Chevy Suburban
5) 1993 Chevy Pickup (V6, meh..)
6) 1998 Chrysler Cirrus (30 MPG, ran to 200,000 mi)

I purchased a 2006 GMC Sierra crew cab 1500 in 2008 and have loved having a truck again. I’ll keep this one for quite some time!

The dream cars are a C5 Corvette Z06 and a 1970 Chevelle SS 396. Those a quite a ways off since the wife and I are working on child #2 in the near future.

107 John November 28, 2012 at 8:18 am

It helps if you stop thinking of your car as an expression of who you are and more of a tool: a transportation tool that gets you and/or the family from point A to point B. Utility is important as you need to be able to haul the required items (depending on the size of your family or your job) from said points A to B, but who cares about everything else? Take a minute and look objectively the next time a car/truck commercial comes on TV (luckily you won’t have to wait long) and notice how often they mention happiness or manliness or “coolness” related words and phrases. It’s eerie. Happiness and sense of self worth ain’t gonna come from a car.

108 James Fruth November 28, 2012 at 8:31 am

I am 28 and am getting ready to buy my first “dream car.” But strangely i find myself longing for my first car, a 93 Chevy Beretta. It was nothing special, but I still remember what it felt like to drive it. A lot of good memories and I may try to find one and fix it up. Great article!

109 Andrew Mac November 28, 2012 at 8:33 am

The sad part comes when you begin to love the minivan because it is so useful. Oh the horror!

110 OkieRover November 28, 2012 at 8:43 am

My first car was a true family truckster. 1965 Pontiac Tempest station wagon. $150(1980 money) It was named the Millennium Falcon. I’d love to have it back today in restored condition. Blew the motor. I loved it because it was mine and I saved my money from two years working small jobs to buy it.

111 Conner November 28, 2012 at 8:43 am

Glad to hear you’ll be on the blog more often, Marcus!

At 25, I’m already a minivan guy (looking forward to child #2 soon!), but I just bought a 75 Honda cb360 motorcycle for a work vehicle.

112 Jonathan I. November 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

I’m 18 and driving a Chevy S10 truck. Its a bit beat up and scratched (some of the paint job didn’t survive driver’s ed), but that truck has been a blessing. Over the past year we’ve helped two families move, transported furniture and gone dancing. Both myself and my younger brother had our Eagle Scout projects, which would have been far more difficult without a truck.
Something more sporty would be great, but I’m very happy with my truck

113 fluctus November 28, 2012 at 8:59 am

I spent my first years in college hitching rides and skateboarding. My father felt that I was showing some sense of responsibility and commitment to school so he transferred me money to buy a car. What did I buy? A surfing trip to Costa Rica! Obviously he wanted to kill me, but a year later I bought my first car… a 1989 Mitsubishi Galant. A/C didn’t work (I lived in Florida) but I didn’t care. I was cruising. Then I bought a civic and then a 1994 Wrangler. I loved that Wrangler like a son. I am now on stage 3 and I drive a volvo.

114 Geoff November 28, 2012 at 9:11 am

This post wraps up your sentiments about driving a Minivan!HA
http://f3nation.com/2012/11/21/the-locked-shields-of-the-minivan-centurions/

115 Fred R November 28, 2012 at 9:21 am

Great line: “A confident man knows who he is, and isn’t trying to be anyone other than his authentic self.”

I’m now thinking of a car of arrival, but really don’t care if it is expensive or in perfect shape. I once owned a 1990 300ZX 2+2 (my first limited responsibility car) and that would probably be my choice.

116 Nick B November 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

First Car – 1981 Honda Accord 5spd hatchback, and I put in a stereo that worth worth 3x what the car was….Oh to be 16 again.

2nd – 1995 Accord. Bought during college. I loved that car until it got rear ended when my mom was driving it.

3rd – 2002 Accord EX-L. Back in a 5spd, 30+mpg, and rode so smooth. best car I’ve ever owned. Also got totalled in a rear end collision or I’d still be driving it today.

4th 2009 Accord (Seeing a trend here?) 5spd EX-L. Good car but I just dont enjoy it like I did the ’02. No complaints though and it already has 100k miles.

Fun/Weekend vehicle – 1985 Jeep CJ7. Wanted one since I was 16 and finally bought 7yrs ago and started tinkering with it. Swapped in an LS1 motor from a camaro for power and reliability. This is the ultimate weekend fun vehicle for the thirty-something who isnt quite to midlife crisis stage yet but still wants to hang onto his youth. And it gets 22mpg!

117 RJ Price November 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

My first car was a 1966 Barracuda with a 4 speed Hurst shifter back in 1972. Moved from that into old Chevy pickups. (49-51). After the kids started coming it was on to a Chevy Vega wagon, Nissan Sentra, Mazda MPV, Honda Civic VX (51 mpg) and VW TDI wgn. Put 320 K on both the MPV and the VX. Now my TDI had 386 K. My dream vehicle? A 1956 Power Wagon Carryall with four doors and a Cummings Diesel.

118 Ryan B. November 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

1999 Oldsmobile … Silhouette.

Yep, I’m in the minivan club. A hand-me-down I’ve had for about a year as a single 27 year old man in stage 2. But the A/C works good, gas mileage is solid, and plenty of cargo space for my tools and boots or driving the whole gang to lunch.

But the most useful and “manly” feature? A built-in air compressor in the back. That (and some black licorice sticks) just rescued my girlfriend from a flat tire at work yesterday. Viva la manly minivans!

119 Dutch November 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

20′s – 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury
1973 Mustang Sportsroof
1971 Plymouth Duster (Hot Rod)
30′s – 1966 Chrysler Newport
1982 Dodge D100 (Hot Rod)
1988 Dodge Lancer
40′s – 1996 Geo Tracker (What the hell happened there?!?)
At 50, I finally got a Lincoln Mark VII. Wanted one of those for years. Still have the Tracker. It’s too much fun to cut loose.
Every one has been a good time in it’s own way. However, It’s also time for another hot rod!
Something you may notice in this list, no new ones. I’m enough of a wrench to stay away from big ass payments.
Old Cars Rule!

120 Father Muskrat November 28, 2012 at 9:38 am

I have an ’01 BMW 530i, and I really like it. It’s got 139k miles but runs great. Would I like a new one? Sure, but I paid cash for this one, and it performs very well.

121 Rich November 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

I’m happy for the most part with my 1993 Ford F-150…it’s long been paid for and depite some repairs in the past and some still necessary (A/C for one), it’s mine. Would I like to get a Chrysler 300 SRT8?…yes but since I work overseas there’s no need for two vehicles sitting around in storage. Would I like to get a Triumph Thunderbird Storm?…yes…but there’s no reason to have yet a third vehicle sitting around. SO…as things stand, the truck is my “Old Faithful”, my standby, my go to vehicle. Big Daddy has seen over 150K miles and as long as I’m not paying for more in repairs than a monthly car payment, I’ll keep him in the sables.

122 Isaiah J Roberts November 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

I currently drive a ’98 Jetta TDI w/ a salvage title. My father in law bought it for my wife a few years before we met, and since I drive 60+ miles a day, I get the car w/ 45-48MPG. She drives my Oldsmobile Aurora I bought for two reasons: it has a heater, and started up on a cold February morning when my ’85 Nissan D21 did not. Bought off my parents at half the KBB price, I get 23MPG for a V8 luxury vehicle… Still can’t justify using it for our trips to Oregon to see her family, but at least we occasionally take a nice drive and get to pass people ;)

123 Jared November 28, 2012 at 10:11 am

My Father is a Auto-body guy. So getting a first car was not a challenge. However, it was not the prettiest. (Fixing your own car doesn’t pay anything)

It was a mechanically sound 1997 Honda Civic, It had been hit in the front end with less than 1000 miles on it. My Dad patched it up and I started driving. It was a two toned silver and primer. It has around 179,000 miles on it and my little brother is still driving it. There was also a 1988 Dakota I drove quite a bit, because I liked the look of a truck.

When I graduated in 2002 my graduation present was a 2000 Dodge Dakota 4×4. However, I had to help rebuild it first. That summer is one of the greatest times of my life. Waking up early with my Dad to drive to the shop, learning how to fix dents, reinforce structural pieces, even stopping people on the streets to measure their truck to make sure ours was true.

I finally sold that truck to buy my wife a kid hauling SUV. The kid I sold it to blew up the engine and sold it for scrap within 6 months. That truck may be gone, but I will always remember it fondly.

Dad’s still around, maybe we can rebuild another this summer.

124 Moeregaard November 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

My first car was a 1962 MGA roadster. It had side curtains (think Jeep) instead of wind-up windows, and I think the rag top was little more than an afterthought by its designers. Never mind that I had to put my school books in plastic bags to keep them dry on rainy days, I had a sports car. I drove that thing daily for two years through college and it never let me down. It also taught me how to work on cars, which came in really handy when I dragged a non-running Jaguar E-Type out of a backyard during this time (a story for another day…). When I transferred to university, I finally got smart and found a beater 1972 Ford Courier pickup for $750. Since it had been used on and around California beaches, it had as much rust as a Detroit taxi, but I was able to pound the daylights out of that thing for two years, before selling it to a guy who took it to Maui, presumably to complete its decomposition. My point is that we can have all the shiny sports and luxury cars we want, but every guy should have at least one beater. It’ll be the car he remembers forever.

125 Kyle November 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

I am a Sophomore in College so I’m still in the first stage. My current, and first car Is a 91 Toyota Tercell. This thing is a 4 speed manual that gets 42 highway and 37 in city. So for an unemployed student living 8 1/2 hours from home this car is perfect for what I need.

126 Ryan November 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

I drive the most amazing small pickup ever to be crafted. The paint was oxidized, the headlights were broken, and the thing pulled to the right like a tea party republican. She was looking tired but she was faithful. I painted it myself and got the wheels aligned. It looks great. Now my 1988 Toyota pickup has 360,000 miles and is still running strong.

127 OkieRover November 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

Today I drive a Honda Civic for the commute and have a 1993 Range Rover as a toy. It serves as our transport when the weather goes bad but is a hobby vehicle for the most part.

128 Jacob Nelson November 28, 2012 at 11:04 am

Just recently traded out of a ’97 Honda Civic to a ’96 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon. Partly necessity because my Civic was 2 door and I needed to get a car seat in the back, but it’s also a car of Arrival for me, because I freakin’ LOVE my Subaru. Best part? Only cost me $200 to upgrade because I got the Subaru for $700 under blue book value.

Throwing a pile of Benjamins at someone makes them take deals they normally would think twice about!

129 Ken November 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’m only 22 years old, so I haven’t really been through the stages, but I sort of skipped right to the end. My first car was a 2002 Lincoln Continental. Most people scoff when I say it, but that car was my dream car. With heated leather seats, a Bose stereo and a massive V8, it was perfect with only 60K miles for only $7K. Unfortunately however, this past summer, driving a winding, wooded road, a sharp turn surprised me and, losing control, I ran headlong in to a tree at near 50mph. The tree made it through a good 3+ feet of engine compartment and if it hadn’t been for that car’s immense size I can’t say where I’d be right now. I truly believe that that car saved my life and as far as first cars go, my Lincoln is not one that will soon be forgotten.

130 Andrew November 28, 2012 at 11:12 am

It is a good article, but write something like this is possible only in USA, when next constitutional amendment will be, that everybody is entitled to own at least one car. For the most of the world article like this will be totally meaningless…

131 LC November 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

Great post! We so often forget to be content with where we are at and what we have. So what if the neighbor just got a new car, at least I don’t have payments like he does even if my Pontiac Montana minivan is less flashy :)

132 JB November 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

First was also a ’77 pinto. It was 16 YO same as me when I bought it for $350 ~’93. It had a removable sun roof (really), the tomfoolery that car lead to was pretty epic/stupid. Drove it till I cracked the oil pan going to fast over the tracks and got water in the block. Next a huge ’81 valarie 4 door sedan. “Cool” kids would ask me for winter rides 5-6 @ a time to do donuts in snowy spots because their front wheel drive pretty cars couldnt spin out… lol. Drove a number of junky small trucks after that for gas mileage/cost.
I skipped cars of limited responsibility stage because I never had enough $$ for them.
I now drive a 2006 F150 Ext-Cab w a long bed. Bought when gas was $$ for 4G less than book. Some of my “hippy” acquaintances (I work at a major midwest Uni) give me grief about gas mileage. But i ignore them. I use the bed and towing for paddle sports, i am the main transport for our yak “club”. Plus I do on the side construction work. Loads of sheet rock fit in flat between the wheel wells which if youve ever tried moving drywall with a ranger or S10 you know how nice that is.

133 Richard B November 28, 2012 at 11:51 am

My first car was a 1984 Honda Accord Sedan that was given to me by a good friend since he’d owned it for quite some time since he drove it across the country in the 80s where he ended up in So-Cal. Sadly, its days were numbered despite all the care he and I poured into it over the years and it couldn’t pass emissions. But it was a first car, it was a manual, and I learned how to drive stick with it.

I bought a 2001 Nissan Xterra SE from a fellow Marine at a great price (he only wanted what he had left on the loan since he had a Jeep Wrangler back in Virginia) and I’ve been driving it ever since. All the work and mods I’ve put into it give it much better mileage than what it was rated when it was new and its a great traveling vehicle that has crossed between California and Illinois twice now, once on the Mother Road of Route 66 and once through the Rockies. I plan on doing Route 66 again one day. And it works out that its a manual too. I love manuals too much now that I’d want manual transmissions in all my future vehicles. But this one I plan on taking good care of and getting decades of use from.

My wanted vehicles would be a BMW E46 M3. Chances are I wouldn’t find one in good shape at a decent price. From a collector’s standpoint I’d love to have a WW2-era Ford/Willy’s GP/MP Jeep. I’ve gotten to drive many of them in my hobby and they are fun little vehicles to tool around in and even work on, even if they can be attitudinal at times.

If I have to drop the Xterra for better mileage I would most certainly go for a VW Jetta TDI. The diesel mileage is amazing and its a diesel engine so its got plenty of reliability to boot. Sorry gents, I won’t stoop to a Prius or other hybrid.

134 Trevor Hansen November 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm

So True! I am 27 and just got married this year. Before I was married I drove a newer F-150 that had nice rims and 4-wheel drive. After awhile I realized that I could not afford it anymore so I sold it and bought a Toyota 4-runner. I was lifted and had big tires and a supercharger. All of that equals terrible gas mileage but I still loved it because everyone on the road turn and looked. Before I got married I realized that I needed a new, cheaper vehicle. I sold the 4-runner and bought a 00′ Subaru Forester. Decent gas mileage, all-wheel drive (I live in Utah), and it is roomy for the camping trips. This car does not turn heads but I am okay with that. Reason being is because it fits the stage of life I am in right now.
Great article!

135 Rox Fontaine November 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I currently drive a 2007 Infiniti M35. This article is so spot on. My first car was an 89 Honda Integra. I was single and in the military. It was pristine even though 11 years old at the time. In my mind it was REALLY fast. I wrecked within weeks of owning it. LOL! I bought an old Ford Taurus when I was sick and needed a $2,000 car. The thing was loaded though and served me pretty well. I then bought a 2005 Infiniti G35. I’d still be driving that but it was totaled last year in a snow storm.

My current car reflects my life well, I think. I’ve been married 12 years and we have an 11 year old son. We have enough room in the trunk to carry gear when we go camping and more than enough luxury and sport for my man wishes.

136 Mike D November 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I have a 1994 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe that I bought new 10 months after graduating college. It has 153,000 miles on it and has been with me through living in four states, 8 different addresses and 3 wives. You will only get that car when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

137 Cam November 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

My first car was an 85 cadillac eldorado, best jalopy EVER, it was missing plastics on the back so it looked like a smile that only had a few teeth, radiator leaked. I still managed to fit 10 of my friends and girlfriends in it when we needed to go somewhere. I’ve had a few cars since then, now I drive an 89 Wrangler. I call her ol’ bessie because I get passed by semi trucks going uphill on the interstate(I believe I need to change my gear ratio). I bought it from a guy in the desert who used it as a toy and treated it as a spoiled child treats a toy. Soon she will be restored to her former glory except I’ll keep the surface rust and scratches.

138 Jordan November 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Great post. I was recently inducted into the mini-van club as well…twins will do that to you. I slapped one of these on it to make me feel slightly better about cruising around in it.

http://mffanrodders.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/mf-emblem.jpg?w=640

139 Anonymous age 70 November 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm

My first car was a 1950 Chevrolet, $15 with a bad transmission. The most fun car was a 1953 Chevrolet, I did some tuning and once ran it down a long hill at 96 mph, indicated.

My present car is a 2002 Sienna with 191,000 miles on it, bought shortly after 9/11. Last month, we left our house in rural Mexico and drove two days to the border. I complained, not even a little bullet hole to show my grandson. Boring.

Then, we drove to Florida, around 1450 miles, then back to McAllen, then back to rural Mexico. That is the history of that car. Leave early in the morning and the next day maybe 1500 miles from home.

Here in the mountains, I drive it on very rough and rocky roads, albeit very slowly. When I bought new tires a year ago, they told me wear was so even no need to check alignment.

Lots here don’t have cars. We have carried up to 11 people on short trips. And, when we come back from Texas, it is loaded with purchases.

I thought it would be my last car, but my health is perfect, so I suspect there will be more. Great car. And, our youthful silliness is past so we don’t care if some folks think a minivan is frumpy.

140 St. Vital Kid November 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

In ’85, my grandparents gave me their 1980 Buick Skylark (Buick’s iteration of GM’s much hyped X car platform) when I graduated from a two-year broadcast training program. My sister had to loan me the money to register and insure it. Picture this: a Skylark “Limited” with four doors, navy-blue body and light blue vinyl roof…and an AM radio!). I put new tires on it, stuffed all my possessions in it and drove it 600 miles to my entry level master control job at a TV station in rural Alberta. I was a 24 year old op/ tech (with aspirations of becoming a copywriter), who lived in hoodies and faded jeans and three days beard growth at work. But the giggle was that with the Buick, I fit right in with the elderly woman who owned the station and her sales manager son-in-law because they too, drove Buick Limiteds (the full-size ones, not the Skylark). Some days, if I could, I purposely parked beside them. When I could afford it, I junked the Delco AM radio and put in a Radio Shack High-Power radio/cassette. If the car was less than cool, at least my music would be!
These days, because my family needs a vehicle that can transport about six cubic feet of hockey gear, I drive an ’06 Kia Sedona. I drive rather sedately, but when needed that Sedona moves out smartly (I read that line in Car and Driver back in the 70′s) thanks to the 3.8 litre engine and even better, sounds like a street rod while it’s doing it. Reminds me of the opening SFX in 409 by the Beach Boys.

141 Sam November 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Couldn’t disagree more. I have two kids(6 and 2) and stuck to a used Mercedes AMG with rear wheel drive in New England. If we have 3 kids all three will fit in the back in car seats and all their stuff in the trunk in comfort. Tell yourself whatever you like but you settled and you didn’t have to. This whole idea of needing 11 cupholders and appeasing everyone else is anathema. You bought a ponderous bus to make it seem like you’re mature and prudent. If that’s actually what you wanted that’s fine but drive what you want not a pre-conceived life stage notion of what you are supposed to.

142 K. Dart November 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

My first car was the family truck; 90′s Nissan, affectionately nicknamed “Truckamus Suckamus”. That thing was impossible to kill, but I eventually bought a ’76 Toyota Celica GT. It was a five speed manual, and SO much fun. I ran it into the ground and decided that this time, I wanted AC. I bought a 1990 Volvo 770, with a power sunroof, climate control, and heated leather seats, from my mechanic. Unfortunately, I blew out a head gasket and wound up being given my parent’s 1994 Jeep Wrangler during a bad run of unemployment. Now, I have a wife and two kids. The minivan is just around the corner…

143 John W. Browning November 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm

My first car was a 1967 Olds 88. My father had passed away when I was 16 and it was his work car. Since I have owned a 79 RX-7, a 64 Jag XK-E, and several family sedans of various make.
I am currently as happy as a pig in a poke with my 22 year old Toyota 4×4 pickup.

144 Jerome Patrick Shannon II November 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

My first car was a 1991 Ford Crown Victoria, yeah a cop car. I loved that thing even if I did crash it the first night I had my license and had to pour a few hundred into it right off the bat to fix the damage.

After it died I moved onto a slew of intermittent vehicles that didn’t work out to well. From a Dodge Caravan, to a nameless Oldsmobile, I didn’t have a real car until my next love…

1995 Grand Marquis, it was in mint condition and stayed that well up into the last moment before it was totaled by the mother of a friend of mine. That was devastating and landed me with an insurance check that could only afford me a lovely 1998 Chevrolet Lumina. The pinnacle of fashion with its manual windows and cloth seats.

It did the job for me and stayed strong until I could afford my current chariot which is a 2001 Nissan XTerra. It is a workhorse for me and the wife, she has a small business selling vintage housewares and furniture and this pony has really carried the load for us.

I totally get this article because I don’t dream of owning the car I currently own, but it certainly does the job for me and I can’t be more grateful for that fact.

My dream car for the record: That 1995 Grand Marquis of mine that lost its life too soon. (I’d take a Bentley Arnage too if that was an option.)

145 Marcus November 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

My first was a 1988 Mazda RX-7.
Nice sporty car, but some crazy issues. 2 seater…which was nice, until we had our first child…not very useful.

146 Craig November 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I currently drive a 1990 Volvo 240 Wagon. This is our family (we’re a family of 5) car, third row seat. We bought it for $500 a year ago. Runs strong. Ironically, our 2001 Honda Odyssey died a while back. Rather than buy a newer car, we riding it out with the 240. Starts everyday. My 3rd car, which I wish I still had was a 1969 Ford Bronco, sweet ride.

147 Jonathan November 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

First car was a 1972 Datsun 510 (with an engine from a 1971 in it). It was a bashed-up, rusted beater car, but it was freedom! Currently in a 2004 Nissan Frontier. Good daily driver, automatic get-out-of-taxi-duty card, and I can haul or tow things if I absolutely have to.

148 Cole Bradburn November 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Love the article. I recently became a father. A couple months before my son arrived I traded my Audi TT roadster for a 08 Volvo family car. At first I felt a little dejected, but after he arrived I became a proud papa when driving him around in the Volvo.

I now feel grateful that I was able to get a dependable, safe car for my family. Like you said, be confident about the stage of life you are in, and embrace the changes that come.

149 Pastor Christian November 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I can’t resist responding to this article! The cars I’ve driven and owned all follow the scenarios mentioned in this article.

My first car: my sophomore year in high school, a 1982 brown Audi Fox. It was horrible! But, it was mine, and I drove my friends around with reckless abandon. That was when gas was $1.85/gallon, and thus, reckless abandon was affordable. Ah, the good ol’ days.

My second: my junior year I worked at a hot rod shop and rebuilt my grandmothers 1953 Ford. I still have it, but it’s not my everyday car. I was “that guy!” It was lowered with a 351 Cleveland engine. I drag raced in it, got tickets in it, made out in it, and felt like I owned my small town of La Mesa while in it.

Third car: my first real job was as a youth director at a church, so I bought a truck to haul all the kids stuff around on mission trips, ski trips, and to tow my boat to the river for kids water-ski trips. My mistake; it was a regular cab truck that fit only three people. I love my truck though, and I’ve owned it for 12 years.

Now, the challenge; my wife and I are expecting our first (and most likely, only) child. My best-friend said, “cool, new child = new car.” That didn’t go well with the wife, but it’s true! This article has eased my fears of what my next car might be. It IS respectable to be in the stage of life I am and have my vehicle reflect that. Thanks for giving me courage to buy a four-door this time around (I think)!

150 Pastor Christian November 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Correction to my previous post: when I started driving it was $.85/gallon, not $1.85. Gosh, I guess I can’t believe it myself. My fingers couldn’t even type it!

151 K.P Rubart November 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

K.P.:: I’m quite older than most on this post, but I can still enjoy the experiences of different vehicles in my life. I’m probable at or near my last ownership of different cars,
though as I write this post the electric cars captures my interest. My life is slower now; gasoline and testosterone flow at a diminished rate through my veins. I probable will have to forgo the Jeep of my dreams to accommodate a handicap vehicle that can carry my wife and I to doctor appointments and the grocery store.
I courted her once driving to the malt shop in a 57 Chevy convertible while youthful girls rolled up on roller skates to serve us our fare. Later, now married and enjoying the young adult life, we drove a red 1960 Chevy Corvair with a rear engine, the talk of our group. In 1965 and two daughters we bought a new breed of vehicle that was to become the vehicle of choice for growing young families: a 1965 Chevy suburban. During those midlife years I bought a 1980 Pontiac TransAm right off the showroom floor. Even had a cardboard cutout of Bert Reynolds propped up in the front seat. Insane years turned into smoother years I call it and the purchase of a motor home. Travel years with my life long mate. Our seasons were marked by our vehicles. Were getting down to the last ride.

152 Bill Graham November 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

First car: 1975 Pontiac Grand Safari stations wagon. 455 V8, auto. Wrecked the front end twice, hauled band gear in it during high school. Awesome.

Second car: 1968 Plymouth Satellite. 318 V8, three on the tree. $200 out of a farmer’s tobacco field. Tired, battery, tail pipe, porch and deck paint. Drove it from NC to NE and back three times. Sold it for $100. Awesome.

Favorite car: Audi 200 Quattro Turbo. Learned how to remap fuel with the computer and had a turbo-rific blast. Parts cost too much.

Current car: 2001 Toyota Corolla. Dixie cup with wheels. 190k. I love it. I hate it. It costs little to nothing to keep going, but I “need” something bigger, stouter, more “manly” …… someday. But it’s sure nice not having a car payment.

153 Zach Dean November 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

As soon as I started buying my own car, they were always (relatively) fast. A 1990 Lincoln Mark VII, a couple SHO Taurus (gen II and gen III), and then I realized that while I could have fun with these cars (the gen III SHO took me well over a hundred many times), it always cost me in speeding tickets and insurance woes. So I’ve moved on to Jeeps. All business on the highways, and then I can roll them off the pavement and have my automotive fun without the hassle and expense of over-zealous traffic cops.

154 Marcus Brotherton November 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm

@ K.P. Rubart … I loved your comment. Glad to have a man of your years on the site! I think you should still buy the jeep.

all the best–MB

155 Fen November 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Remember, a cool vehicle does not have to cost an arm and a leg. I just bought my dream vehicle, a Toyota 4Runner, and pay $117.50 a month. It is a 98 model, but has low-mileage, 4WD, a sun roof, a back window that rolls down, and is the perfect outdoor vehicle.

156 Ryan November 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

When I got my license at 16, I drove around my dad’s ’94 Toyota Tacoma. Man, I love that truck and it took me everywhere in high school. I bought my first car a year and a half ago when I got back from a military deployment. It’s a 2004 Cavalier. It had 49,000 miles on it and after licensing and title cost me 7 grand. It’s depenable, took me all the way to Texas from Illinois and back. My advice was buy something I could pay for in cash or not spend 6 years paying for it. Some of my friends skipped that lesson and are paying for it with their debts. Live within your means people. If you can afford a Mercedes, get it. If you can only afford a beat up old truck, don’t shame yourself buy buying something you can’t afford.

157 Adam D Moore November 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I’m on my first car, a 2000 Kia Sportage. It’s got great room and a roof package etc. But in the winter I can’t get up a 5% incline. Plus with the amount of money I’ve sank into keeping it running I could have bought my car of limited responsibility, and a fairly nice one at that. Right now I’m just looking to buy a bike with a motor on it. Everywhere I go is real close by and they get incredible gas mileage and require relatively small care.

158 Mark Rizvi November 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I’m 16 years old, and I drive a 1996 Acura Integra that my aunt practically gave me. Its fun and pretty quick. I can drift and do donuts. The leather seats are cracked and torn up which is a bummer. I prefer to drive my mom’s 1996 Ford F350 PowerStroke Diesel cause its manly! But I can’t so I drive my little car. My girlfriend likes my car a lot so I guess it alright.

159 Tom Roff November 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm

First car was a 57 Chevy I bought in 1966 for $600. First new car was a 1969 NovaSS 396/375hp. Then a new 72 Corvette. Then to a Cope Deville after marriage, then a new 1986 Volvo. Followed by an unbroken string of new Honda Oddy’s. – I can’t see myself driving anything but an Oddy. Love that van.

160 Daniel T. November 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Let’s be realistic. Our dream car is and will always be a Delorean

161 sugapablo November 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Forgive me. I’m in the same place as you, and I was still able to find better options than the dreaded mini-van, which I do believe is the least manly of all cars.

A Suburu Outback was my choice. Used, it was affordable, practical, could haul the kids and my music equipment (I play guitar in a few bands), had all the utility, AWD for winter (rated on two lists for best in snow) and drives off-road rather well. It handles much better than a mini-van and doesn’t give off half the pathetic-ness you admitted you had to talk yourself out of.

There are plenty of other cars out there other than an Outback (which was just what I ended up with) that can be driven by a man without needing the internal pep talk that can still be just as practical for the family.

Just my two cents.

162 Monty November 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

My current car is a Dalorean. I have driven the bat mobile and my first car was the millennium falcon.

163 Harry November 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I’m 23 and I drive a late 90s Cavalier. Not exactly the height of masculinity or speed. It belonged to my grandmother who passed last year. I’m proud to drive it in all its low HP, two wheel drive compact glory

164 Mike November 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I’m 23 so I’ve only owned a few vehicles. My first was a 1988 Ford Thunderbird tubo-coupe that I bought for 900 cash. I had been working as a dishwasher and saved up the money for a used car. That thing was my baby… until the engine overheated (had a coolant leak that I found out about a little too late) and wouldn’t run properly anymore- I would floor the pedal and the thing would struggle to get from 25 mph to 40 over a quarter mile with the rpms revving high on the auto tranny… it was bad. That was a sad day that I sold that thing. Next was a 2005 Ford Ranger. I still miss that truck. Sadly I flipped it on the highway in the icy Wisconsin winter of 2009. With the insurance money I went out and bought a 2006 Ford Focus that was a used rental car. Got a pretty good deal on it- still running strong with 70k+ miles on it and it’s almost paid off. For my age that’s enough cars to go through in 7 years, but as much as I miss my Ranger (more than either of my first two cars) I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will be driving the Focus for a long time- and I’m quite happy with that.

165 Jason November 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Sugapablo comment and others are pretty funny. The idea that a Outback is more “manly” is funny. What make one car manlier than another? Cars are just pieces of metal on wheels that come in different shapes and designs. Any other meaning we bring to them is pure marketing and pop culture. To me it’s like, who’s more insecure, the guy who says whatever car meets your needs at a certain stage of life is manly, or the guy who tell himself that his heap of metal is a “better” or “manlier” choice than another heap of metal because he’s swallowed the marketing line wholesale? Why would the second guy need to think in those terms if he wasn’t insecure? Clearly he derives a sense of satisfaction and identity from the choice.

And no, I don’t own a minivan. I’m still in stage #3 and drive a 2000 Nissan Altima. But if I ever need to get a family car, I won’t feel any differently if it’s a Outback or Minivan or whatever. I live in Florida, so I’m not concerned about winter weather, so probably something that gives my kids more room will be the way to go as I like to take long road trips….

166 Evan November 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm

My first car was a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, I loved that car. White exterior, dark red interior, decent aftermarket stereo, and awesome gas mileage! Then I got my first real job and my disposable income went to a Green 1994 Camaro z28 T-Top. Loved that car too, nothing like taking the tops off and hitting the highway in the early morning summer hours on my way to work. Now, out of necessity, I have a 1991 Dodge Dynasty. It’s missing most of it’s trim, the dash is sunwarped, and the damn trunk lock cover never stays closed. But it runs, and gives me very little trouble.

167 Boy Engineer November 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm

My first car was a 87′ Honda Civic (older than myself) a hand-me-down from my older brother. I drove that for the last 2 years of Highschool, until it couldn’t pass DEQ, or drive straight.
Then i had a 92′ chevy corssica, which I paid for with the tiny amount of money i had left over from my summer job after paying for my first year of college. It still drives great, but has a water leak (in more than one place), which in Oregon turns it into a perpetual mobile swamp.
Now that I’m 2 years into my career as a fancy pants engineer I’m ready to buy my third Car (Paid off my Student loans first!, Stuff it Economy!).
Now I spend my free time ooglying cars dreaming up what to buy! Just waiting till I find the right deal for my personality.

168 JST November 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm

My first car was a Mazda Miata. They get criticized as girly cars, but boy did I enjoy driving it! I’m now a dad with a SUV, but I’d sure love get another Miata in a couple of decades as my “car of arrival.”

169 Daniel November 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Enjoying my first car, a 1990 Mazda Miata in red. Previous owner(s) kept it in immaculate condition, and it has only 72k on the odo. With luck it will last many years, as hope never to get rid of it (ever). When it comes time for the wife to buy a minivan, the Miata’s going into witness protection.

170 Kaleb Wyatt November 28, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I am in the first stage driving a 2001 Crown Victoria. It’s a great car but I am going to be buying a better car soon that I will pay for completely. I pretty excited to move into stage 2.

171 Eric Roozeboom November 29, 2012 at 12:20 am

The first car i owned was a Fiat Panda 750L from 1987.
750 stands for the 750 CC engine dan the L for Luxery.
The big “luxery” bonus was the wiper on the rear window and the clock in the dashboard.
I know it wasn’t a big muscle car but i brought me everywhere i wanted to go, and gave me the freedom i wanted as a young man.
And every time is see an old model Panda i have to smile and think of all drives i had in that little boxshaped car.

172 RobSanDiego November 29, 2012 at 2:09 am

My first car was the best, a dark green ’72 Mustang, only two years old, and I bought it the summer before my senior year of high school. I worked at an auto shop and learned how to align the front end, adjust tire pressures and shocks so I could get better handling out of it. Eventually I was outcornering my girlfriend in her dad’s 240Z! I felt like Steve McQueen whenever I got behind the wheel. I REALLY miss that car.

173 Leo November 29, 2012 at 3:26 am

Rubart has life experience like mine, Started on 4 wheelers with a clapped out 42 chevy P/U, engine would die if the head lights were turned on. Brakes? what brakes? It was an OFF road ride. First car c/o Naval base bingo jackpot, a 1955 Willys Aero Ace, Two glorious weeks and motor seized. limped back at 20-25 on 2? cylinders, noisy too.
Married into a 56 Bel air In pink . Then a 1960 mini Cutlass. Kids required first NEW car 66 Olds Star-fire 88, Had that car 14 years and 150K . If it was not a Cutlass frame,brakes,axles, groaning under a 88 full size Body. I would do it again. 1949 Dodge P/U with 47 plymouth motor had to replace almost all of the steering (half turn of steering to move wheels)!! 1960 Alfa Romeo Gulia Spyder Veloce basket. Divorced ( Alfa NOT cause. may have helped tho).
New 80 toyota P/U 100K, New 88 F150 110K, Remarried, now a 97 F150 Lariat 88K (+ 100K towed behind Moby, 96 36′ pusher M/H) .
Good Luck to those still moving up the stages.

174 Tank November 29, 2012 at 7:33 am

Recently had occassion to rent a car. Had a lot to haul, so I chose a Chrysler Town & Country mini-van. Awesome! So comfortable, leather everywhere, back-up camera, stow-away seats, power sliding doors on both sides. My wife thought it was nerdy over the phone, but when I pulled up in it she fell in love.
I drive an ’05 Mustang now and I baby that car. Washed, waxed, oil changed religiously. However, my one and only true love will always be the 1989 Oldsmobile “Royal Brougham” Delta ’88 that I bought from my uncle for $2K. He was a military man, so when I bought the car in 2001 it was showroom new and had only 50K miles. I drove that thing like a bat outta hell for 6 years. Put a 130K miles on it, replace the transmission and tires once, sold it to a coworker for $400. He had a friend fix it up. They detailed it and gave it to a homeless ‘Nam vet at their church so he could get back and forth to his new job. Last time I checked that car was still on the road. That, my friends, is American steel.

175 sugapablo November 29, 2012 at 7:57 am

@Jason: I would say that if you need an internal pep-talk to convince you that your minivan is “not only respectable, but cool”, you’re not driving the car to feed your inner manliness.

IMHO, what would make an Outback more “manly” would be the fact that it handles great. AWD to go through snow, mud, dirt, etc. All the utility and actually feels good to drive. A minivan feels like it’s going to tip over around sharp bends and just try to take it into the mountains for a camping trip. Admittedly, if you’re in Florida, this stuff won’t matter but….

Again, these are just opinions, but this article was the first on AOM to really disappoint me. Brett talks about his grandfather’s generation as being the inspiration here. My grandfathers both took great PRIDE in their automobiles. They picked ones that would suit their family, but ones they could take pride in, take photos next to, etc. You do not get that in a minivan. In a car like an Outback (and again, it’s just one example) you can happily take a photo next to it mud splattered like a badge of honor from that awesomely manly camping trip you just took the family on. :)

176 Mark Ehrman November 29, 2012 at 9:16 am

My cars exsist our of necessity now, I use them when I have too and appreciate the usuability and reliability of the ones I choose, right now a manual ’99 Outback (perfect for Michigan winters) but had considered a used minivan because they are so practical. I’ve never thought low of a minivan. a neighbor and man-tor (he does being a “man” right) of mine gave me work installing offices and he drove a minivan for work. But my first taste of freedom came at age 24 with my purchase of a 1983 Honda Nighthawk 550. riding a motorcycle is a thrill AND amazing on gas. If I choose to drive my car and I see a motorcycle, I get jealous and riddled with regret. I now also own a 2008 Harley Superglide Custom which came with a new girlfriend who I plan to make my wife. We rode around all summer and dog-gone fell in love. After I expressed despondancy(?) of having to sell when we have kids, she exclaimed, “Why would you ever do that?” Just fantastic.

You should consider an article about motorcycles. You have a great site.

177 Rick D November 29, 2012 at 10:37 am

Never had kids, married late, so I didn’t go thru the stages, tho I recognise them as near universal. Still:

1st car- ’75 Dodge Coronet, an ex- City of Tampa unmarked police cruiser- ‘plain white wrapper’. Friends derisively laughed at it the moment they saw it & said it looked like Sheriff Roscoe’s car in Dukes of Hazzard- I still affectionately think of it by the name it got that day, The Roscoemobile.

2nd- 1st car I actually paid for- ’73 Maverick. 4-door.

’88 Lebaron, was a gift from my pop, tho I was in my late 20′s Even now it’s the newest car I ever had (only couple years old when I got hold of it)

’94 Sable, inherited. My Daily almost-nice Driver.

’75 Chevy C10, three on the tree, no power ANYTHING. Got 10 miles/gallon. Miss that truck, was in a bind so sold it for what I paid, $500. My most ‘manly’ vehicle.

And now I start to fit the ‘stages’:
’04 Explorer, the first vehicle the spouse & I bought together as a couple. Comfort begins to be important in our middle age- wife wanted an SUV & I like it, too.

Dream car? Don’t laugh. A Pinto. That’s right, I want a Pinto. Okay, so more than a Pinto I wouldn’t mind a vintage TR-6. Or an MGB. But I’d rather have the Triumph. A green one.

And a Pinto. Pinto hatchback.

178 randy November 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm

My firt car was a 03 dodge minivan. Everyone called it my soccer mom mobile neverthelessi loved it it was so practical iswear it. Had more space than my.moms escalade. Unfortunately I crashed it. I then got an 07 Chevy Colorado and its to date the best car I’ve owned. Someone ran a stop sign a destroyed it. Decided to get an 09 Malibu very nice but I probably paid too much . Again someone ran.l a red light. And their explorer plowed right into it. I don’t know I f its me or if Pennsylvania has like a thousand accident. a day . I now got my smarts together and just bought a 04 Volvo xc70 and its great . Very luxurious at a low cost. 6600. I think I’m going to stay off the road as much as possible in this one. It is more visible . Silver instead of my road colored Malibu .

179 Robert Jones November 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I remeber my first car, it was a 68 Pontiac Le Mans. The car had been a buddy of my dads car, but had been abandoned for the last 11 years. The last 3 years of which it sat in a emptly lot. So one day i notice it, and call my dads buddie on my 16th birthday. He gave it to me saying “I’ve had alot of fun with that car, and i know you will too.” So over the next 8 months I proceeded to fix up the car its top was all rusted out, and a packrat had moved into the engine. After it was running a safe on the road i paid to get it painted brittish raceing green with white stripes. I drove that car all durring high school, i was so proud of it!

however, time soon caught up with us and the transmision went, and now a college student i cant afford to fix it. I continue to save, but it will take time.

My Second car and current driver, is a 89 jeep cherokee. Originaly going to be my first car the jeep used to be my cousiuns car who just recently had kids and no longer had a need for it. The paint was in poor condition so i got it painted, however this time i covered the whole thing in rino linner. Now, my jeep is a off roader on the long weekends, but a school commuter car the rest of the time. I still wait the moment when i can get the Pontiac running again a feel the pride of knowing your driving the coolest thing on the road!

180 JP November 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I am between the familial and financial vechicular stage of life right now. My wife drives an ’05 Honda Odyssey and I drive a ’96 Toyota 4Runner. The thing I love most about my 4Runner is that I bought it with cash from my dad 7 years ago and it is bullet-proof and still purrs like a kitten.

181 Mike November 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Good article but I think you need a “Hobby car” category in: for the guy who likes to build/work on their car and enjoy all that comes with it

182 Jason Janzen November 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I am right there with post #104 Scott Walter. I, too, had a 1980 Z28 Camaro that I bought when I was 15 and just itching to turn 16. Right now, with my wife, I am in stage 3 and 4, also with a Trailblazer (2002) that we love to pack for camping trip. We also drive a Ford Focus all the time for the better gas mileage.

183 St. Vital Kid November 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm

My parents’ first car was a 1960 Morris Oxford with red leather seats and absolutely nothing else to recommend it. As I remember and from stories my dad has told over the years, you could not find a car more poorly suited to winters on the Canadian Prairies.

Before our first family trip “Across the Line” (to the U-S) when I was four, my parents had so little faith that the Morris would make it that we took my grandpa’s ’59 Plymouth Belvedere instead. Now that was a car suited to one’s first trip to America as a kid!

In the summer of 66, my sister and I could barely contain our joy that the Morris was on its way out. My dad traded it in on a new ’66 Chrysler Valiant Custom 200, with no radio, vinyl seats…and a 180 hp, 273 V8. In that era, the Canadian Valiant was identical, aside from nameplate, to the U-S Dodge Dart. That V8 under the hood surprised more than a few other drivers who prematurely dismissed a compact hardtop with a family of four inside as a slowpoke.

We kept the Valiant for five years and traded it for a screaming yellow ’72 Volvo 144.

184 Jonathan November 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Ahh, Sugapablo you missed a critical piece! :) One does not get a mini-van to drive like you buy a Mustang or even an Outback. You get a mini-van to live out of! It’s the difference between bragging about your Harley and bragging about your Airstream.
I have 5 kids and truly, unashamedly, happily, rank our Chrysler Town and Country as my favorite car to live out of.
As for looks, you would be surprised. With a canoe on top, home-built utility/camping trailer behind with all the gear, mud spattered from 2 weeks of camping in the rain in Maine and driving mountain and coast roads, and 4 delighted kids “living” in the back and my wife beside me….yeah, I took pictures that I’ll be showing to my grandkids with pride! :)

185 Jesse November 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm

There’s actually just two types of vehicles: The ones you race, and the ones you use to pull the trailer that hauls the one you race.

186 Jay November 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Summer of ’94. I was 17. I bought a 1963 Triumph Sports 6. Drove it for 3 years and the repair bills were triple what I paid for the car. I’d do it all over again. I saw one recently at a car show and I can’t explain the sense of nostalgic excitement I felt when I saw it.

187 Henry November 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm

My first ride was the ’71 Chevelle Malibu 4door hardtop that the elderly widow next door gave me after eight years of snow-shovelling, grass mowing, gutter cleaning, and other chores expected of the young man next door. I think gas was $.78/gal. when I got it.
I had to leave it at home do to a ban on freshmen with cars at the University. By my second semester freshman year, I had secured myself a ’64 Chrysler Newport and a parking badge. It blew it’s waterpump, and was too rusted out to keep any longer, so I swapped it for the tow off the Turnpike and out of my life.
I suppose these first two cars cut the pattern: get something that runs, and can be maintained until the ravages of New England winter road salt eats the thing.
Then move on.

188 Allen November 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm

My first car was a 1988 Honda Accord. A year older than I am, I still love that car. it still runs fairly well although the transmission shifts funny and it leaks oil. I moved on to a Ford F150 and loved it. It wasn’t the biggest, baddest truck, in fact it was more like a Crown Vic with a truck bed, but I was proud of it. I now drive a 2011 Mustang and while it doesn’t have a 5.0 in it, it gets the job done and gets better fuel economy than the truck. I’ve always been a fan of Mustangs and one day hope to be able to get one of the classics, like a ’68 or a ’69.

189 JeffC November 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Oh, the Fun I’ve Had. I’m 52. Here’s my lineup:
1st Car: 1972 Chevy Luv pickup 4-speed, w/ obligatory camper shell (high school). Highlight: first kiss. Driven 2 yrs.
2nd Car: 1972 Audi 100 LS. Highlight: Driving to laundrymat w/ car stuffed full of my and roommates clothes for an all-day wash-a-thon. Driven 1 yr.
3rd Car: 1966 Volkswagen Bug. Highlight: Learned to work on cars w/ an Idiot Book and a positive attitude. Driven 2 yrs.
4th Car: 1981 Kawasaki KZ 550. Highlight: Carving up a mountain road @ 50 MPH. Driven 5 yrs. until I was hit & bike totalled.
5th Car: 1963 Rambler American (something to drive in the rain when I owned the Kawasaki). Highlight: An interior that converted into a double bed.
6th Car: 1973 Volkswagen Bus. Highlight: 10-day road trip w/ a friend from southern California to Vancouver, BC and back. Driven 10 yrs.
7th Car: 1968 Volvo 144 S. Highlight: Sending it off to the junk yard. Driven 1 yr.
8th Car: 1991 Volkswagen GTI. Highlight: Didn’t set the parking brake, so when it rolled out of a turn-out on a lonely mountain highway and took off down the road, I had to sprint after it, open the door, jump in and smash down the brake pedal before it crashed through the guard-rail and tumbled to the valley floor 200 feet below. Good thing I hadn’t locked the door! First new car, driven 17 yrs./150,000 miles.
9th (and current) Car: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Highlight: a 4-door sedan getting 50.5 MPH on a highway trip cruising @ 75 MPH w/ the AC blasting. Odometer reads 106,000 and it’s barely broken in.
10th Car (coming soon): a Harley Davidson Road King. Just for the weekend, and the Grand Canyon trip.

190 Liam November 30, 2012 at 12:22 am

My 1st car – ’83 Toyota Corona. It had a hole in the head gasket and a busted water pump but you wouldn’t know it; it just kept on going.
2nd car – ’93 Ford Falcon. Temperamental as a soccer mum at the wrong time of month. It died on me in the middle of a highway.
3rd car – ’86 Toyota Corolla hatchback. 5-speed manual and I never had to change the oil.
4th car – ’86 BMW 635 CSI. On loan from mum-in-law.
5th car – late model Kia Rondo. My then-wife drove our BMW to her mother’s place and when she came back she was driving that thing. I felt like choking somebody.
6th car – ’83 Plymouth Sundance. Great car. I accidentally wrote it off in the snow last winter.
7th car – ’86 Toyota Celica. My current vehicle and I wouldn’t swap it for quits.

This was a good article, but I am afraid it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was hoping to read an article aimed toward young men driving their first cars, but frankly, I think a more suitable title would be ‘How to Be Happy driving a Minivan.’
I have driven a minivan, out of need, for several weeks a couple of years ago; it was a late model Dodge Caravan. I felt like I was being castrated. I could see the fuel gauge creep toward the ‘E’ as I was driving. It was big, heavy, ugly and guzzled gas. I’m sorry but I cannot believe minivans to be cool, sporty, sexy, manly or necessary in the slightest. Nothing will convince me that they are 100% necessary. I had more to say but right now I’m too upset to remember what it was.

Frankly, I cannot wait for an article about a list of large family sedans to consider as minivan alternatives.

191 Brady November 30, 2012 at 3:00 am

First car,1956 Olds Super 88,had to paint the house and it was sort of a graduation gift until I drove it off a bridge,ouch !
2nd: 1962 corvair 4-sp,junk
3rd : Ordered a (I was 19yrs old) 1968 SS396 Chevelle,4-sp
4th: ’61 Biscayne,L-88 427,4-sp
5th: ’73 Z28,4-sp
6th: ’74 LUV truck 4-sp
7th: ’77 K-10,auto,Silverado
8th: ’70 Buick,big back seat
9th: ’85 Z28,auto
10th : ’94 K-10 Silverado,extended cab
11th: ’01 K2500 HD,crew cab,8.1 Ltr
12th: My baby,2010 GrandSport Corvette,6-sp,coupe,Crystal Red Metallic,clear roof panel. What a joy !!

I also have for toys: 1996 Polaris Sportsmen 500 and an ’05 Polaris Sportsmen 800 twin,both with 3000lb winches.

I almost forgot to mention,after buying the 2001 pick-up,I bought a totally restored 1970 SS454 Chevelle. Then,to top it off,I bought a ’63 Biscayne L-88,Ford inch rear
with 4:10 gears. To make room for my Vette,I sold both of them. And I don’t miss either one. Driving to Utah,with brother,got 29.4 mpg with the Vette(my mileage car).

192 Alex November 30, 2012 at 6:28 am

OK, great to hear all the car stories!

My first was a 1976 Datsun B210 hatchback. It was a beater, but it was a tank! It ran and ran – you couldn’t kill it.
There were a lot of cars in between, but now in my mid forties I drive a 2011 Dodge Charger R/T. Just had to have the Hemi! :)

193 James November 30, 2012 at 7:23 am

My first car was a ’93 Chevy S-10 pickup. To this day I still want a truck. Currently driving an ’03 Honda CRV and it works like a champ. We just bought a Honda Odyssey and love it.

Marcus, go to youtube and search swagger wagon. It will give you a new perspective on owning a minivan.

194 Jim Vander Poel November 30, 2012 at 7:28 am

1961 Chevy Nomad station wagon, bought from a Navy Chief on the base where I was stationed in 1966. Rebuilt the two-speed Powerglide in a friend’s carport. After another friend smashed it up, a 1966 VW Squareback, with dual carbs. That got painted like a US flag when I got home from Viet Nam. Then a 1970 Karmann Ghia, in which I taught my new wife to drive a stick (makes me a candidate for sainthood, or at least no time in Limbo). Our first sedan was a 1976 VW Dasher, then I nearly bought a new ’81 Datsun 280ZX. Instead, a year later, the first of three Volvo 245 wagons, which I drove from Florida to Massachusetts with three car seats across the back (3 kids by that time). Those were followed by three Saab 9000s (the last is a ’97 Aero, with racing suspension now). Then a used Saab 9-5 Aero. But since Saab is gone, I bought a new F150 (waited for 25 years for that truck) and my spouse is happy with her new 5-speed Subaru Forester. I try to spend as little time driving it as possible – as the old Volvo ad said, “No man ever looked back and wished he’d owned a station wagon.” Oh, and the retirement project: 1973 Volvo P1800ES, that I’m going to start restoring in the spring. Bought in ’83, drove it for a while, and have had it stored since. A classic.

195 Brock November 30, 2012 at 10:35 am

Want to really truly love your car? Make sure that your wife loves your car…

196 Eddie Rivera November 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

My first car? Problem magnet. 1994 Mazda 626.

Crapped out on my on the freeway on the way home. The transmission failed and I gliding, luckily, right off the freeway on an exit ramp. I called my father, and we sold it to a wrecker on the spot. It had so many problems, both aesthetically and mechanically, but I wish I could have kept it a little longer.

You don’t understand what a first car means until it’s gone and you’ve had a bit of experience in life.

Nostalgic article. Nostalgia’d hard.

197 Ryan Flynn November 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

An old Volvo is the perfect first car. I worked hard to buy my 1989 Volvo and appreciated every minute of having it. Sure, the car was a year older than me, ugly as sin, and wasn’t in good condition, but it was MY car. A reliable, safe starting point for car ownership and being a man in general, that damned old Swede hauled me, my girlfriend, 3 other friends, 5 lawn chairs, 4 cases of beer, and anything else we needed to carry without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, the car was hit right before I joined the Marine Corps, ending a beautiful relationship between a young man and his trusty steed.
Throughout my Marine Corps career, I had a variety of different vehicles, including a 2004 GTO, a 1994 Twin Turbo RX-7, a Jeep and a couple of crotch rockets, but none of these flashy automobiles could ever replace the love that I felt for that ugly old Volvo sedan. Now that I’m out of the Corps and working to support myself while going to college, I drive a late-model Honda Civic out of necessity. It’s a reliable gas-sipper, but once I can afford my “Car of Arrival”, I’ll be damned if it’s not a Volvo.

198 AJ November 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

If you REALLY want to love your car give it a nickname. I had a beat up old yellow Jeep Cherokee, I named her Old Yeller. Old Yeller almost put me in a grave several time but I loved her because she had a name and she was mine.

199 Matt November 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm

First car: 2000 Kia Sportage. It was able to move me and my friends around. I kept it clean and treated it well. It was never “cool” but it got the job done.
2nd car 1998 Explorer. Has the 5.0, and I keep it clean too. Nothing too exciting, but practical. It can haul more than the Explorer could.
Motorcycle: Vulcan 900 Custom. Keeps the gas-guzzling truck parked, and looks great. Appropriate transportation for 95% of what I do, and it’s a blast to ride. I love motorcycles, but I’ll always have a truck to back it up.

200 mike November 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm

no one has/had a porsche?

surprised.

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