How To Be Happy With the Car You Drive
by Marcus Brotherton
Art of Manliness
author with his first car, c. 1990
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 thatís needed to see your car
in a new light.
my wife and I traded in what weíd 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
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 Iíd never drive.
my face morphed onto Clark Griswoldís in National
Lampoonís 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.
I got to thinking. From a certain perspective, a minivan
is respectable. In fact, not only respectable, but cool. At my age,
Iím no longer fast nor furious. I run in business-oriented author-circles,
and Iím not trying to be elite street-racer/ ex-convict Dominic
Toretto. Frankly, I donít have his abs.
So whatís respectable
about the minivan? It correctly fits the stage of life Iím in right
now. A confident man knows who he is, and isnít trying to be anyone
other than his authentic self.
goes a long way toward a man feeling good about the vehicle he owns.
the seven main vehicular stages of a manís life:
A first car
is a young manís ticket to freedom. It might be an absolute jalopy,
but at least he isnít 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. Itís the Gentile equivalent of
a bar mitzvah, a coming-of-age mark of arrival. If you drive your
own car, youíre no longer a boy . . . youíre 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 youíll 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.
Cars of Limited Responsibility
does not mean a man is irresponsible. It means heís 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
A man with
limited responsibilities doesnít 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.
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© 2012 The Art of Manliness