This is not an old car!
What Will I Be Driving?
Last month I touched on the fact that my 151/2-year-old son is getting ready to start his driver's training and of course, once his mind started thinking about driving, it immediately started asking, "What will I be driving?"
It's not as if I have a shortage of cars but very few are ready to take on the task of providing transportation for a teenage boy. This is not a problem because, in order for him to appreciate having a car, he needs to spend some time getting it road-worthy. The wisdom here is that maybe he'll think twice about abusing it if he had to get it running and looking presentable.
So far he's like most any other kid in his situation-as long as it has four wheels and an engine he'd be happy with it. He's never asked for a new car and considering that his dad has never had a new car he's been smart enough to know that is not going to happen.
So as I started to look around at the fleet and started putting the pros and cons list together for each one, I started to think about my own first car and how it would relate to him today. I was born in 1967 and my first car came off the assembly line in 1968. When I started driving, my Chevelle was a 15-year-old car and, at that time, it was considered a cool old car. At least by the group of guys I hung out with. It was bright red with white SS stripes and lowered on Rally wheels with taxi cab caps. Also in our group was a '66 Mustang, '68 Camaro, '65 Falcon, and a few VW bugs-all old cars, and some nicer and faster than others, but they all stood out wherever we went.
I continued thinking about putting him behind the wheel of something, and I started taking a long look at a '70 Monte Carlo I haven't driven in a couple of years. On its pros list: it's got a new restored interior, an upgraded suspension that really handles great, and has a lot of rust-free sheetmetal between him and the rest of the cars on the road. On the con side, it needs paint, didn't get the best mileage, and could benefit from a new engine. The more I thought about this car, the more I put it into relation to 2009 standards.
My son was born in 1994 so, if he was to get an "old" car just like his dad, he should really be driving something like a '95 Mustang. That's hard for me to wrap my mind around because to me a '95 anything is a late-model, almost-new car. I can't see a '95 Mustang standing out much from the crowd these days like a '68 Mustang did back when I was in school. Maybe it's the fact that the '95 looks a lot like an '04 or any year in between.
I did some math and figured out if he does get the keys to the Monte it would have been like me driving a car 24 years older than myself , which would have been a '43 Ford (I know they didn't have them so let's say '42 Ford) in high school. Now that was an old car even in those days. We rarely saw anything from the Forties or even the Fifties being driven regularly in the Eighties. As I pondered this over the last few weeks I started keeping a little better eye on the cars I saw as I drove to work. The more I looked the more I realized that even mid-Eighties cars are getting rare out on the highways. Maybe it's the fact that I've been commuting in a '69 Ranchero, but I never thought of a '70 Chevy as a vintage car (but it's almost 40 years old)
I'm sure finding a clean '95 Accord would probably be the smart thing to do but what would he learn from that? If we go with the Monte Carlo-he can most likely be the only kid at school that can start something with a carburetor (think about that!).