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Road Noise: Am I old enough for disdain toward the young yet?

  • August 29, 2008
  • Road Noise
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A lot of press releases cross my desk here at Vehicle Voice World Internet Headquarters R Us, and over the past few weeks, I’ve seen several headlined with variations on “10 Best Cars for Back to School!”
Wow. My parents got pretty worked up when they just had to lay down a hundred bucks for a graphic calculator; the concept of a back-to-school car probably would have sent my dad into a coma.

In my day, we rode the cheese. And we liked it. You kids get off my lawn!

Remember your first car? That’s nice. Personally, I’ve been trying to forget mine. It was a 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera that had spent five years moldering in my grandma’s farmyard before it came into my hands. It had bench seats up front (always a plus when you’re five feet tall and want to give a ride to someone with longer legs, which is to say, anyone), the ceiling fabric was held up with industrial staples applied in artistic patterns by yours truly, and the whole apparatus was painted a shade of metallic orange that was visible from six miles away.

Like this, but orange. Way orange.

I tell you this to explain why the concept of a list of the best back-to-school cars baffles me. When you’re of an age that you’re the target market for back-to-school anything, your parents most likely are doing the shopping for you. You don’t shop off a list; you shop in the classifieds. Maybe it’s just that my parents didn’t love me as much as they should have (Always a possibility; they never did buy me a pony.), but I was in my twenties before I owned a car that hadn’t spent at least a week in someone’s front yard with a “For Sale” sign under the wiper.
As a teenager, the only kid I knew with a car that had been purchased from a dealer was my friend Don, whose parents felt guilty and made the purchase after the steering on his dad’s car failed while Don was driving it. Everyone else had front-yard specials, classified-ad rescues and hand-me-downs.
Inspections? Warranties? Luxury!

When I was talking about the back-to-school auto phenomenon, Ed told me he’d read a review of the 2009 Dodge Challenger that said it’d make a great first car for a teenager. Let’s get some perspective; I’m on my fifth car, and I still don’t get a Challenger. Any teenager who gets one of those for their first car should have it forcibly taken away. Their parents should get a stern talking-to, and then I should let the kid have my car as a hand-me-down while I hang on to the Challenger for safekeeping.
I’d hate to deprive a youngster of the joys of true first-car ownership, after all.

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