A smaller car for empty-nesters...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1989

Dear Tom and Ray:

My husband and I own a 1986 Dodge Ram Van--the eight seater. We bought it to pull our 18 foot boat and trailer and carry our five kids around. What has happened is that the kids have grown up and gone away and we don't need that seating capacity anymore. Moreover, the van sits in our driveway 95% of the time because it's so clunky to drive. We really only use it to tow the boat. Can you suggest a vehicle, preferably a car, that would be strong enough to tow the boat, but also serve as a drive-around-town type of car?

TOM: I'd get a Yugo. It'll never pull a boat, but it's much better suited to sitting in a driveway.

RAY: Actually, Joan, you shouldn't let any vehicle sit in the driveway like that. Components rust, seals dry up, and brakes and clutches seize. Small animals move in and set up light housekeeping in air cleaners and vent ducts. My brother, in fact, has a family of raccoons that have set up a successful bed and breakfast in the back seat of his '74 Chevy. He first noticed something was funny when he saw the TV antenna go up.

TOM: I think your instincts are correct Joan. You should get rid of the Ram Van. It doesn't make sense to own a special purpose vehicle for those few occasions a year when you need it. Many people make this mistake. I have a friend who bought a forklift for those two times a year his wife's family comes to visit. Sure, it's great for moving them around, but the rest of the year, he's got to put up with all that noise, the rough ride, the diesel fumes, and all of those Acura Legends whizzing by him on country roads.

RAY: Tom is right. If you really only move the boat a few times a year, you shouldn't stick yourself with a boat-moving vehicle. Buy yourself a Mazda Miata, and when the ocean beckons, rent a Ram Van and a tow bar.

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