These days we are firmly dependent on our vehicles. It would be nearly impossible to survive without them. Well, we could survive, but it would make life a lot harder to not have a car. Some cities are so spread out that public transportation just isn’t feasible in certain situations and if you live in a rural area—forget it, you need a car. As times change so do our auto needs.
I grew up in the Midwest in a small town surrounded by farmland. The closest city was about 30 miles away, but it was a straight shot on the highway. For many families in town one or both of the spouses worked in the city and it was conceivable to have a small compact car for the commute. Most, though, had some sort of family sedan.
The family car had to do everything: take kids to school, parents to work, drive to and from practices, and even go on vacations. This vehicle was important to the whole family and if it broke, well, it made life a lot harder because the other vehicle in the home was probably a truck.
Pick-up trucks were standard vehicles in rural Midwestern towns. Not only did they help for working on the farms, but there was a lot of helping your neighbor, so carrying tools in the truck bed was convenient. Also, during the winter snows, it was very helpful to have a vehicle with four wheel drive. If the truck could cut a path through the snow, the cars could follow.
If a family didn’t have a truck, you can bet their car had front wheel drive and that their neighbors or close friends had a truck. The only problem with the truck was that most didn’t have enough room for the whole family. The days of nearly standard extended cab and dual cab had not yet arrived.
When I graduated and moved to Florida, I listened to many tales of my friends growing up in the city. For them, having a truck was completely impractical. That’s not to say that no one had them, it was just much more logical to have a car.
These were kids who were more concerned with having a “cool” car. They would lower the suspension if it made the car stand out. Nothing was more important than the stereo and the speed. I asked once about having room to carry things in the car and they all laughed at me. They didn’t worry about transporting anything. The biggest concern was whether the low profile tires would have problems in the rain.
Work and Fun
To me, your auto should be able to go between work and fun without a delay. Okay, you might need to clean it out a little if you indeed have good car maintenance habits, but otherwise it should transition nicely. The best example of this is a Jeep Wrangler, at least in my mind.
My first vehicle was a Ford Ranger and I loved it. I could do virtually anything to that truck and it kept going. The only problem was I couldn’t take many people with me. Sure, in the summer you could get fifteen people in the back, but in the winter it was lucky to have three people in the cab. My Jeep wasn’t much better, but I could look nice pulling up to work and leave straight from there to go mudding. With the top up it looks professional; with the top down it’s out to have fun.
There are certain vehicles that are just for fun—muscle cars, sports cars—they’re just not very practical for daily life. Sure they get the job done, but they’re more about looking good than being functional. It takes a special vehicle to do double duty.
The Older We Get
As our lives change, so do the needs in a vehicle. Before kids it’s all about fun, flashy cars. With babies comes the need for extra space and safety. Next comes comfort: everyone knows about “grandma” cars—the boats that signify the old. But honestly, who hasn’t sunk into the seat of a Cadillac and thought, “yeah, I understand”?
Everyone has different needs in a car depending on age, location, and priorities. That’s why there are so many different makes and models. There’s a perfect car out there for every stage of life and every style anyone could want.
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Ivy Bertman lives in South Carolina. She is without a car since her Ford Explorer died, and she refuses to buy anything new until she can afford what she really wants. Until then she gets by borrowing her dad’s Cadillac Deville (in which she feels like an idiot) and her mom’s BMW Z3 (which she loves, but feels like she’s sitting on the ground).