Now here's a midlife crisis car purchase that we can get excited about.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am having a genuine, bona fide midlife crisis. I can tell because I think I am
acting the way all my friends say guys act when they have midlife crises. I want
to ditch a perfectly good, reliable 1985 Honda Accord hatchback and get a used,
but not very old, Volkswagen Vanagon. Not the camper, just the regular old

Why? Because I'm sick of driving short cars in which everyone else's halogen
lights shine directly into my eyes. Because I like sitting up straight instead
of having my legs and lower back in stupid extended positions while driving.
Because I'm tired of being sensible and buying sensible cars! I want something I
can use for road trips, something up off the ground, something that will seat my
friends, and hold the plants I pick up when I stop suddenly at a nursery. I also
want to be able to keep my clothes in it and sleep in it when I go to a week-
long camp and it rains!

Am I crazy? I just paid off the Honda. And even if I am crazy, what vintage of
Vanagon is most reliable? Help me either not do something stupid, or, if I'm
going to be stupid, help me do it in style, guys. Thanks. -- Margie

TOM: We'll help you do it in style, Margie!

RAY: I completely understand why you want to do this. In "perfecting" the
automobile, Honda and Toyota have essentially turned cars into appliances.
That's great for reliability. But do you ever get excited about your toaster
oven? Does your crock pot make you smile? Of course not. Your Honda is reliable
and trustworthy, but it's boring.

TOM: And the Vanagon is just the opposite. Getting places will be an adventure
in the Vanagon, Margie. Since you'll never know whether you're going to make it,
you'll feel a thrill every time you do. And while driving down near the ground
with lights in your eyes in the Honda is tedious, wait until you get blown
around in a windstorm way up in that Vanagon. It's the next best thing to hang

RAY: I think this is a great move, Margie. After all, what is life, if not an
adventure? I'd go with the latest model Vanagon you can afford. I think
Volkswagen made it up until about 1991. Then they redesigned it as a front-
wheel-drive van and renamed it the Eurovan.

TOM: Either one will completely wipe out the memory of this boring Honda,
Margie. But make sure your AAA membership is paid up before you pull the
trigger, OK?

* * *

TOM: Hey, do you think you're taking good care of your car? Are you sure?

RAY: If you're like many of our customers, you may be ruining your car without
even knowing it. Yes, even you! Find out how. Send for your copy of our
informative pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing

TOM: Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed No.10 envelope to Ruin
No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One