Being the defacto “car guy” within my little network of friends and acquaintances, I’m routinely asked all sorts of “What car should I buy?”-type questions. The resulting overarching conclusion is this: most car-shoppers these days want a car that can do anything and everything, and do it all well. Today’s buyers want something reliable and fuel efficient, but also roomy, good in the snow, stylish, relatively quick, and fun to drive. I’ve thought and thought and thought and really, there’s no such thing as a perfect, do-it-all, one car solution.
Most cars are developed with a couple specific purposes in mind, and they will excel in those areas while falling short in others. A car that’s fun to drive, stylish, and quick probably isn’t very spacious or good in the snow, and vice versa. The way I see it, you’ll need a minimum of two cars in order to really effectively cover all your bases. Maybe that’s just the car enthusiast [hoarder, errr “collector”] in me, but I think it really does ring true. Sure, there are cars out there that the argument could be made for as a do-it-all hero, think BMW X-drive wagon, but does that really do everything well? It’s all relative. Maybe that X-drive wagon is fun to drive when you’re used to a Suburban, but hop in a Healey Sprite or MGA and that BMW will feel utterly watered-down and uneventful. Yeah it looks sharp sitting in traffic, flanked by beige Camrys on either side, but bring it to a Cars & Coffee on Sunday morning and you’ll quickly feel like the odd man out. It’s definitely fuel-efficient, but only until you realize those Camrys get twice the mileage at only a small fraction of the cost of entry. Not so much of a do-it-all hero anymore.
My recommendation is always, always, always the same – first, establish your priorities. Have a think, make a list. Is this the car you’ll be counting on to get you through city traffic to the office every morning, year-round? Or is the car more of a summer luxury? Buy the car that best suits your immediate needs rather than wants; don’t try to do too much, because if you do, you will end up with a car that’s very mehhh, just so-so across the board. This ties back to my two car, at least, solution. Need a reliable, cost-effective, street-parkable daily driver but also want to have some fun with it? Budget of $20k? Great, go get yourself a newish Corolla for $13k, or whatever they cost these days. That’ll cover your practical, logical, feel-fine-about-beating-up-on-it daily driver. But to address the want, or need in the case of a real enthusiast, for something that’s more enjoyable to drive, that remaining $7k can go a long, long way. Think 944, MGB, e30 and the like. It’s not a car that you’ll regularly drive to the office in, or cross the country in, so go have some fun with it. Find something that you really want, not necessarily need. This is where a classic car makes a ton of sense; it’ll have more sense of occasion than just about anything on the road today, will serve as a social catalyst of sorts, will provide some pride of ownership (unlike the Corolla), and if you buy it right, will be nice and easy on the wallet.
But what do I know? I prioritized fun-to-drive in my two-car solution and ended up with two classic German sports cars. Only one of which is running at the moment, and not even very well, I’ll admit. Hardly a “solution”, but no regrets. Car shoppers, there’s an endless army of Corollas available for chauffeuring from point A to point B at the touch of a button, thanks to the Uber app. Two classic sports cars and an Uber lifeline….now that’s what I call a solution! 10 of 10, would recommend.
Written by: Jake DePierro