Friday, August 18, 2023

My definition of a "nice car" probably does not match yours

This is my current set of wheels

The standards I have for personal vehicles are low, having been shaped by the fact that I am Bob Tennant's son.

When I was growing up, my dad owned a succession of cars that could generously be described as "economical." All of them could get you from Point A to Point B, more or less, but there was no guarantee you would get there in one piece.

I remember one car with a passenger door that would randomly open when you made a right turn. More than once my dad had to reach over and grab my arm so I wouldn't tumble out into the intersection at 25 MPH.

There were floorboards so rusted through you could see the pavement passing by underneath your feet, and a van with a gas tank that once broke off and dragged along the ground for two miles as we drove home. I remember thinking the sparks it created as it scraped along the road were probably more than enough to ignite whatever gas was in there.

You shouldn't have to worry about your vehicle going up in flames when you're 8 years old.

I remember the old man owning one or maybe two decent cars total when I was growing up. The rest were already on their last legs the day he brought them home.

Thus it was no surprise that my own first car was a semi-dependable 1979 yellow Chevy Chevette, or that my subsequent upgrade was a seemingly rubber band-powered Dodge Omni. Back then, I figured nice cars were reserved exclusively for the super rich.

All of this is to explain why, to this day, my idea of a luxury car isn't an Audi, a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz. It's any car with working turn signals and a monochrome center-console display screen.

You will understand, then, why the car I currently drive, a 2021 Honda Civic hatchback, is easily the sportiest and nicest vehicle I have ever owned.

I love that car, and I love driving it. I've never had a car about which I could say that. It has what I consider to be all the best "modern" features, many of which have probably been standard on new vehicles for a decade but few of which I've ever personally had.

Speaking of new cars, I should mention that I've never owned one. And my wife has owned exactly one: her beloved 1988 Beretta, which was eventually passed down to me before I drove it into the ground. We not only are not "nice car" people, we're not even "new car" people.

Terry drove a series of minivans in the 90s and 2000s largely because she often had four or five passengers (i.e., our kids) in tow. Now she drives a 2015 Honda CRV, which while enjoyable isn't on the level of my Civic.

That's why I'm looking forward to her getting her own "bells-and-whistles" car sometime in the next year or so. And by bells and whistles, I'm talking about things that excite us but probably not you: heated seats and/or steering wheel, touchscreen console display, sideview cameras, etc.

If I could afford to buy her a Rolls, I would. But her standards are about as low as mine, and having a dependable, top-of-the-line Honda or Toyota is pretty much the pinnacle for both of us.

On the plus side, we are exceedingly easy to please.


  1. We also has a dodge omni passed down to our family from my grandfather passing. Our claim to fame was the Ford pinto my mom drove with 6 of us in the car. The lesser child sat on the middle hump seat and my brother remembers laying in the back window a time or two. We are also honda owners tried and true. Might even try myself the hrv next. Stepping up from my honda civic.

    1. The Ford Pinto AND an Omni! You qualify for the Modest Taste in Automobiles Club, as well...welcome!