Hooniverse Asks- What's The Best 'Dad' Car?

There’s an episode of The Wonder Years, in which Kevin’s dad can’t decide whether to buy a new car or not. Kevin wants him to buy the screamin’ sexy red Mustang convertible, but the dull-old family sedan has too many memories in it making letting go a tough choice. In the end, the old car makes way not for the Mustang, but for another – albeit newer -sensible sedan, and Kevin learns a valuable lesson via the Daniel Stern voice-over.  Kevin had a different idea than his dad of what kind of car he should drive. Looking back on our dads, or if you’re a dad yourself, what would be the best car?Sure, some of us grew up in households of means, and others in ones where we didn’t have two pennies to rub together, but the idea isn’t so much about a particular car, but rather  of the more conceptual idea of the image a dad’s ride should project.
I’m sure few of you smoke pipes these days, but my image of the stereotypical dad has a pipe clenched between his teeth and a stoic expression on his face. A cardigan sweater and some sort of medium to large dog completes the picture. It’s more Ozzie and Harriet than Ozzy and Sharon, and YMMV.
But what kind of a car should that prototypical dad be gripping the wheel, and casually tapping his pipe on the vent wing of? Many of us lament the lack of coolness our dads exhibited (and be assured, your kids feel the same about you, Elmer), hence we’d like them to roll up to little league practice in a Lambo drop-top, with the Swedish exchange student along for the ride.
But if that were actually the case, then you’d be spending all your time explaining to your friends why your dad isn’t a douchebag. No, there’s something to be said about the cool-factor of a more sensible ride. Maybe it’s a wagon that’s cool because you and all your friends can pile into it for pizza. Maybe it’s the car that lest you choose your own stations on the radio.
Whatever it is, there has to be a perfect dad car out there, and we need to find out what it is, because Father’s Day is this Sunday don’t you know.
Image sources: [Examiner.com, Sebringsprite.com]

38 Comments

  1. When I was a kid, seven years, my dad bought an Escort Mk1 1100L, which was a kind of "dull" familly car. But the looks were so much the same as the Escorts that were winning Races and Rallies, so I was ok with that. Still think it was a perfect dad car. Later, when I got my driver licence and bought my first own Escort Mk1, I found out that it also was the perfect hoonmobile. In a way I'm invected by escortitis because of my dads car.

    1. Escorttitis? You might want to get that checked out. I heard it leads to Male pattern baldness, hairy palms and a complete inability to claim your first car was cool while in the U.S.

  2. When I was very little — before I remember — my dad bought a used Audi 5000. He loved that car, but it was also a total lemon. I wish I could remember him in that car, though. Instead, my dad tends to drive very sensible, unexciting cars. He went through a couple of Dodge Colts, an '84 Mercury Topaz (which became my first car), an '86 Sable, a '91 Dodge Grand Caravan (and it's 3 transmissions in under 110,000 miles), a few Saturns, a Nissan Altima and now he's driving a Fusion. So, whenever I think dad car I think "sensible, affordable sedan".
    I'm going to change that, though. When Mrs. engineerd is with child I have to sell the Mustang (that's the agreement that keeps me in an unpractical, 2-door car right now). However, she does like the Audi A4 Avant. So this is what I have my eye on for my "practical" car.
    Crap…I may follow the same path as my dad.

      1. Ah, if I could find one that wasn't nearing the end of life on turbos, water pumps and oil pumps in my price range, you can bet your bottom dollar that will be the case.

  3. BMW Bavaria Sedan. Good looking in the classic BMW way, 6 cylinder engine for fun, but still a sedan to haul the kids around in. Hell, its what I was brought home from the hospital in. And it lets your neighbors know that "You've made it". I loved that car when I was a little kid, it was so much fun to ride in and to watch my mother or father shift through the gears. I still have the shift knob from it sitting on my desk at home.

  4. My dad has a problem. He loves cars. My mom has always been concerned about his time/car ratio. He has a 1000 sq. ft. shop filled to the brim with cars in various states of repair. All of them are radical. Not any time soon, but eventually I look forward to inheriting one day.
    Of all the what, 9 cars and trucks (+4 bikes), the one that most exemplifies my dad is actually the '93 Lightning. Its loud, obnoxious, reliable, very thirsty and really fun. I know its not the answer to the "every dad" question. But it works for me.

    1. Okay, I'm sorry… but I need the full list.
      9 cars in 1000sq ft is tight, though. Our garage is somewhere in that range and we can only fit 5 in it, including using the lift.

  5. My dad had an 80 Olds Cutlass 4dr 350 that did dounughts like nobody's business. He would let me turn the wheel while he laid into the pedal…. there was nothing better when I was 5. He traded it for an 82 Chevy Truck. I now drive a different but 82 Chevy Truck to work every day. Odly enough… if I had a million dollars… one of the vehicles I would have is a new 82 Chevy Truck.

  6. The best Dad car isn't a car, it would have to be a truck. A work truck, with tools and stuff in the back. That is the ultimate Dad car. You know he is going to teach you something, take you somewhere you normally can't go, and make you earn your keep.

  7. My friend's dad had the coolest cars. At various times his stable included:
    Porsche 356
    Citroen DS wagon
    Audi Fox
    Volvo Amazon with stripy art car paint
    Volvo 164
    Renault Fuego Turbo
    Plymouth Belvedere
    and of course the ubiquitous Volvo 245
    The only minus was the Ford Fairmont Wagon, but we won't mention that. Oops…
    This guy was a true Hoon. He was once driving down a snowy hill, and saw an available on-street parking spot on the other side of the street. A quick cut of the wheel and a grab of the handbrake and he was in. We thought he was the best.

    1. Was or is? Because I feel I might need to meet this man.
      In a side note, Renault Fuegos have the most comfortable seats of any car. Ever. Period. We have them in our '67 Mini Wagon.

      1. You know it’s been a few years since I’ve heard from him. Maybe I’ll shoot him an email and find out what he has now.
        What hid under the hood of that Fuego was scary. On the underside of the hood was a vacuum diagram. When you looked down, all you saw were hoses. Couldn’t see the block, or any recognizeable parts, just hoses.

  8. Pretty much through my whole life, dad's had something utilitarian. He had an old Datsun pickup, then a VW bus when the Datsun disintegrated, and traded that bus in on a Ford Ranger in 1985. And got another Ranger in 1991. And again in 1997. And again in 2004. Hm. Guess he's probably due for a new one before they discontinue them.

  9. Two vehicles stick out in mind for my father, an 90's era Tacoma and an 83' BMW 733i. My father loved to get the old beamer up to 100 mph in the back roads going to grandma's place. The ride was smooth enough that my brothers and I would not notice unless one of us looked at the speedometer.

  10. During much of my formative years, my dad drove a '93 Plymouth Sundance. 2.2L, 3-spd auto, the only exciting thing about the car was that it was "Indy red" (re. very, very bright red, almost absurdly so for both a non-turbo Sundance, and a middle-aged engineer). But, in spite of looking outdated from the day it was new, it served us well (not flawlessly, but nothing that was really its fault – several flat tires, it got stolen once, the e-brakes locked up when replacing one of those flat tires), and sort of fit my dad.

  11. I think Dads should get a ford Explorer, Suburban, Hummer, or other boring SUV to show off how powerful their wives are. There's nothing sadder than a man driving his wife's car. That's the perfect summary of today's dad.
    My dad was not into cars, so I got my car bug from the atmosphere. I did buy him a slammed 69 VW Bus, because I heard he liked VW Buses. Shockingly he didn't want to drive it, so it became my daily driver :-).
    Thankfully, I have no rugrats, so I don't have to worry about car seats. But if I did, I'd go for something odd. That increases the humiliation factor when dropping the little brats off to school. I think I'd get one of those three wheeled Zap electric cars in green.

    1. The nice thing about the wife driving a utilitarian, "boring" SUV (my wife has an Escape), is that I can drive something fun and unpractical (for the time being). If I need to get something at Home Depot, I take the Escape.
      Although, I can fit 8' lumber in the Mustang with the back seat down and the trunk closed.

    2. Strangely, my little angel is horrified when I slip the booster seat into the Alfa Spider to drop her at school. She'd rather ride in the station wagon.
      The older she gets, the more she looks like the mailman.

  12. Funnily enough, my dad was a pipe smoker, and mostly drove cars that were at least interesting. His two best were the 1970 BMW 2000 and the 1984 Audi 4000 Quattro, both smallish, fun to drive German sedans, although I only ever got to drive the Audi since I was only 12 when the BMW was replaced by a Honda Accord. The Volvo 164 and Plymouth Valiant were worthy but dull and the Mercedes 250S was cool but unreliable. The Accords (77 & 84) were officially my mom's cars.

    1. Further comment is that some of his friends went even further to extremes. The high school social studies teacher with the 2 stroke Saab, replaced by a Dodge Dart which was followed by a 2 wheel drive full size Blazer with rotten doors, and then a Subaru Justy. Also the stodgy lawyer type whose Country Squire and Gran Torino wagons were accompanied by a Fiat 128, and who later owned a Lincoln Continental and an Alfa Milano at the same time. FWIW dad was also a lawyer but decidedly Left Wing.

  13. Two, TWO! lost posts. No more images, I guess.
    I'm making a diesel Pajero my dad car, for many varied and interesting reasons that I am not going to type out again!

    1. Yeah, I'm loosing them too. Now half the time Intensedebate is not linked to the site either.
      I think someone needs to feed the monkeys downstairs.

  14. The perfect Dad car? I would say the one that's not the minivan in the driveway.
    Don't get me wrong, I love minivans, one type especially, but in the context of "dad" cars, they're more the "mom" car.

  15. For my dad it's musclecars, convertibles, musclecar convertibles, and pickup trucks. The current drivable fleet is a '70 GTO 400/4-speed convertible, a '68 Cutlass S convertible, and a '63 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk II for the cars; the pickups are two early-'90's Dakotas and two Rams. Till he got the newest Ram the only 4-door consistently in the family was my Mom's sedan.

  16. We went through a lot of cars over the years, but they were all kinda cool in their “practical” ways. None of them really defined the father car, more it was the group as a whole that gives an idea who father was.
    The ones I remember, Brown 69 Plymouth Satellite wagon, 3 Rambler wagons, 57 Ford, 58 Ford, 64 Dodge Polara, 66 Oldsmobile (straight 6, 3 on the tree!) 69 VW bus, 76 bronco, 77 Courier, 62 Comet Wagon and several 68-73 Chevy pickups.
    They got less interesting after I left home. Guess I felt I had to take up the cause.

  17. 63 Chevy Suburban.
    He went through several MGs and SAABs, but those were mostly before I was born (came home from the hospital in an MGB, though). But that Suburban…Had it for about 10 years and that thing would go places in 2wd that we were afraid to go. Only time it ever needed 4wd is when the rear bumper caught on the bank when fording a stream. (in a Chevy? whoda thunk it!)
    Man I miss that beast…

  18. I'm a little wistful this weekend, it being the first father's day since my father passed, so you'll pardon me if I ramble. Anyway, Dad was a GM guy through and through- his only non-GM forays in almost 50 years of car ownership were a '76 LTD and similar vintage Marquis, both retired company cars…for my mother. He even stuck to the old GM hierarchy of brands- once an established career man and parent, no mere Chevy or Pontiac would do for him: We're Olds & Buick people now! His last few years saw him finally get that Cadillac he'd always wanted. It was a Deville- not the most exciting Cadillac by a longshot, but it made him happy. So the Deville gets co-honors, along with the one that got away. He bought it new and sold it early in my childhood, as he felt it not a proper parental car: the 1971 Monte Carlo with the 396. Perhaps not a "proper" parental car, but I could tell he regretted selling it. I swore some time ago I'd find one in good shape and fix it up for him, even if it sat.. Time ran out, but I'll still find it one day…

  19. I would love to see my pops driving his 65 Bonneville 'vert. Black outside, red inside, 421 underneath. He had traded it for a 67 B'ville hardtop when I came around and that's what I came home in. By the time I became car aware, he had me polishing a 30 Model A for parade duty and had begun on a long long run of wagons and minivans.
    But man, I tell ya. I'll always picture pops cruisin' that black Bonneville.

  20. My Dad was (and still is) cooler than me. He's had some nice rides but, to me, the quintessential Dad car was a mid-70's 911S in India Red. Unfortunately, the guy who paid the repair bills didn't agree and he parted with it just before I started driving, to be replaced by a Mazda 626.

  21. My real dad had an MGTD back when he was a young buck, but for most of my life (and his, actually) he lived in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When I was born, the 'rents lived in Hell's Kitchen, and I came home in a Checker Cab (Mom confirmed this). So, Pop didn't have a car. You don't need one in the City. We took the subway everywhere whenever I was there with him, and that was fine by me. I'd insist on riding in the front car, and stand at the front door, watching the progress of the train through the tunnels. Fun.
    My second stepfather was a car guy, kinda. He had a Porsche 912, which he couldn't (wouldn't) work on, even though he was an engineer. He also had a VW Bug, which he drove when the Porsche was in the shop. After he and my Mom were married, it was a succession of station wagons, Datsun 510, Pontiac Safari, a few others. The thing I liked the most about that guy was his jones for old luxury cars. A '69 Toronado was my favorite, the one I wanted to learn to drive in, but Mom shitcanned him before that happened. The dumbass blew the engine up, I heard later, and that was a drag.
    My Mom's gotten it right with her current husband. The guy's a cool dude, they were full-time RVers for ten years with two different Suzukis in tow, which they four-wheeled all over the West, to the limits of the Sidekick's, then the Vitara's, utmost abilities. The two of them know many of the National Parks like you know your back yard, due to the fact that they spent a lot of time as volunteer rangers. They also had a VW trike, which I rode the hell out of. They live in Charleston, S.C. now, with yet another Suzuki and a Ford Ranger.
    So, when talking about a Dad car, I have to ask, which one?

  22. I know, there's a shop down the street from me that is building up a Mk.1 Escort. That's why I said he was unable to say it was cool in the U.S. Majority of people in the states have NO idea how cool escorts used to be.

  23. My favorite Dad's car is actually my Mom's car. Mom only owned Oldsmobiles, because her best-friend growing up and through college married an Oldsmobile dealer and when she went to get a new one Pa always made sure to be there. The four of them decided that she should get the '67 Toronado with every option known to Man.
    Dad always drove pick-up trucks and I can't remember him ever washing one in the yard (he probably made an employee do it at work), but he used to wash and wax that Toronado religiously.

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