Is nostalgia enough of a reason for Mel to go shopping for a Plymouth Arrow Coupe for his kid's 16th birthday?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2008

For no other reason than nostalgia, and the fact that it's the only car I know how to work on (because it broke down on me so many times when I owned one), I am looking for a Plymouth Arrow Coupe for my kid's 16th birthday. I'm willing to go anywhere in the United States for a manual-transmission coupe that is still running. Can you help me? -- Mel

RAY: Can we help you? I don't think so, Mel. I think you're too far gone.

TOM: I suppose we could best help you by trying to talk you out of this. This thing was made in the late 1970s, and it was, to be delicate, real junk. Fortunately for your kid, 99.9 percent of these cars have already been crushed, shipped to Korea as scrap metal, and sent back as Hyundais.

RAY: The Arrow was a compact car made by Mitsubishi and sold by Chrysler, which found itself without any small, fuel-efficient cars to sell during the gasoline crisis of the late '70s.

TOM: I think the best thing about the car was the Harry Nilsson song they used in the TV commercials, "Me and My Arrow."

RAY: The reason you remember it so fondly has nothing to do with the car itself. It's because you associate owning that car with a time in your life when you were single, carefree and getting to go out on the town more than once a decade. So I think you may be looking to relive your own youth, Mel, and your kid's 16th birthday is just a convenient excuse.

TOM: But this is not a good car for a 16-year-old, mostly because it's unsafe. Structurally, it wasn't much to begin with, and I'm sure the rust and the elements (and the mildew) have not been kind to any surviving Arrow you might uncover.

RAY: Plus, it has no crumple zones, no air bags, no disc brakes, no anti-lock braking system, no stability control -- no nothing. And 16-year-olds, almost by definition, are knuckleheads behind the wheel (through a deadly mixture of inexperience and testosterone), so you really want some additional protection for your kid in case he happens to do something dumber than usual.

TOM: So, here's what we suggest: Buy the kid an early-1990s Volvo. That'll help protect him for a few years, until he grows up and gets a little smarter. Plus, it'll be old, it'll break down frequently and it'll be expensive to repair. That means he'll have to learn how to fix things, or how to pay someone else to fix things. Either one is a good lesson.

RAY: Then look on eBay or in Hemmings Motor News ( for an Arrow, and buy it for yourself. Then YOU can tinker with it. When it runs, we know you'll drive it sanely. And on summer nights, you can roll down the windows, reminisce and think wistfully about the days when you had hair for the wind to blow though! Good luck, Mel.

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