The Case for Old Cars

Let’s talk about stress. And cars. We will get into the deep details of stress and how to manage it later, but suffice it to say that stress has the greatest impact on both your mental and physical health, including your skin, and you don’t need any more of it than you already deal with. So what does that have to do with cars? A lot. 

With few exceptions, cars are a fact of life. We need to get where we need to be, when we need to be there. But what are you driving? It’s easy for you to talk yourself into buying a new car. It’s safer, it gets better gas mileage, it’s more comfortable, it’s more reliable. I need to project an image of success. I deserve it. Some of these may be true, but for the most part, they’re not. The one thing that actually tips the scale on buying a car is emotion.

Having a safe car is very important, but really look at the numbers. Is there a new development that makes the new car overwhelmingly more safe? Gas mileage is important as well, but how many more (estimated) miles per gallon justifies a new car? What is more comfortable about a new car? Over the last 20 years very little innovation has been added that actually makes a new car more comfortable. New cars break down all the time, the warranty never seems to cover whatever the issue is, and fixing a new car is complicated and expensive. Have you ever had to pay for a software update to keep your car running correctly? New cars are computers more than they are cars, and that’s not a great sign of the times. As far as an image of success, if that’s actually tied up in what kind of car you drive, you have some perspective to find. And do you deserve it? Sure, but you deserve a lot of things.

The additional stress of a new car far outweighs the stress of driving a fun, mechanically sound used car for two reasons – money and responsibility. Obviously, new cars are more expensive. They usually come with a larger monthly payment, higher insurance rates, and buyer’s remorse. After the excitement dies down, the guilt you feel over carrying another financial weight becomes very real. Not to mention that a few weeks later the newer version comes out and you aren’t riding the “at least it’s the latest and greatest” conciliation justification anymore.

But even worse, there’s the every minute of every day responsibility stress of a new car. Will it get broken into if it’s not locked safely in the garage? Will it get scratched if I park it on the street? What will I do if it gets damaged? What if the kids have muddy shoes? Should I be afraid to take the car somewhere off the beaten path for fear of it’s newness being ruined? The things you own end up owning you.

Now the case for an older car. Do your homework. Make sure you are looking at cars that are in fact highly safety rated and have decent gas mileage. You obviously have to have a mechanically sound car, that means having an independent mechanic look over the car before you buy it – paying 100 dollars to find out it’s going to cost a fortune to fix it is way cheaper than buying the wrong car. You don’t want a car that is a ratty mess, it needs to have been loved by the previous owners. There are plenty of older cars that meet all of these needs.

Older cars are cheaper, often far less expensive to repair, and the insurance rates are definitely lower. There’s no way to argue with the financial benefits, but when it comes to what is comfortable and projects your image, it is a highly suggestive, romantic, and exciting factor in choosing a used car. 

There isn’t much variety in new cars, but used cars come in all shapes and sizes. What’s right for you? Is it the car you got your first kiss in all those years ago? Is it something more rugged that you can relate to rather than a sports car, or vice-versa? Whatever it is, every time you drive it, it should remind you of something bigger than the car.

If you haven’t driven an older car lately, do it. The nostalgia of loose steering and hand-crank windows makes you feel young and free. I could drive any car, but I chose an older car with personality. Strangers actually ask me to let them drive it, and I’m cool so I let them. They jump out with smiles saying they’ve never had so much fun. They don’t make them like they used to. Simpler times. Also of note, driving a car that isn’t constantly connected to satellites and the internet gives you a sense of freedom you may not remember, or if you’re young, you may have never felt at all.

As far as your image, you are in for a big surprise. If you want to see looks of sheer envy, pull up next to a row of brand new luxury cars in a 4×4 covered in stickers from everywhere you’ve gone skiing, an unapologetic pickup, or a now classic twenty year old family car. You get respect, and the luxury people spend the rest of the afternoon wondering why they don’t have your confidence and aren’t living your life.

Here are some final tips:

  • Name your car, something that matches its personality. You tend to maintain and enjoy it more if you bring it to life.
  • Stop worrying about dents and dings. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Always keep up the maintenance – oil changes, tires, tune ups. It’s your responsibility now.
  • Take your car on adventures. It’s a bonding experience. Wouldn’t you rather look back and say that you and ‘ol whatever you named it took a trip to the coast together than it was locked safely away that weekend?
  • Until you break the habit, remind yourself every day that your self worth has nothing to do with your car. Be your own best friend, and if the cool kids don’t like your car, let them shift their attention to your beautiful skin, thanks to Powerful Beauty (you knew we would plug it somewhere).
  • Stop thinking so much about your car. A car doesn’t deserve your attention the way the people and passions in your life do. There will always be more cars, but there won’t be more time.
  • They say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. I disagree, when it comes to the actual road. Do you remember sitting in traffic, or the view from the mountain you drove to? If the former, that’s not what life’s about.
  • Spend some of the money you’re saving on things you actually want to do, rather than paying for a new car. Yoga retreats, hiking poles, concerts, vegan Mexican food, ceramics lessons (I’ve moved to intermediate at this point, you should see my latest bowls, just saying).

Enjoy your time on the road, as stress free as possible, and remember to drive defensively.

Send us a pic of your cool old car, we’re not just trolling for social media content, we really want to see it.

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