The good folks at Chrysler contacted me recently about entering a little “blog-off.” They gave me a few possible topics to choose from. One topic was “must haves in a vehicle.” That one made me think a bit. So here goes…
I’m going to start with brakes. If I’m gonna go, I’d like to be able to stop, too. (Brakes are less important in non-running, long-term restoration projects, but I’m going to assume that for this exercise we are talking about running vehicles.) And I definitely prefer disc brakes. Drums are fine if everyone else is on drums. But when you have SUVs stopping short in front of you on the freeway, you’re gonna want disc brakes.
My next “must have” is good outward visibility. I like to be able to see out of a car, especially if I’m going to drive it. This isn’t quite as simple as it might seem. Most older cars have big greenhouses and few blind spots. But a lot of the new stuff is kind of hard to see out of. You have fat A-pillars that obscure pedestrians and C-pillars that obscure everything. Many vehicles now require back-up cameras. Really? A back up camera? Has it come to that?
Ok, so a steering wheel is a must have. And a motor. Oh, and wheels.
How about seat warmers? I’ve become very fond of seat warmers since moving from California to Seattle. I’ll put them down as a must have.
What about power windows? Only one out of my three cars has them. The only time I really miss them is when I want to roll down the passenger-side window to yell at someone–another driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian. But it’s probably better to discourage this kind of behavior, so power windows are not a must have.
How about transmissions? I don’t get too hung up on the whole manual vs automatic thing. I like both. Automatics are awesome when you are in gridlock. Manuals are very fun most of the rest of the time. So a transmission is a must have, but it can be an auto or a manual.
I like a car to be solid feeling. It doesn’t necessarily have to weigh a lot, just has to feel solid. Solid when you shut the door. Solid when you drive over rough pavement. I don’t like driving tin cans.
Then there’s safety. I do like some degree of safety. So I’m not too keen on old vans–I don’t want to be the first person to the accident. I like shoulder belts. Airbags are not a requirement, though–and honestly, some of the older airbags make me nervous.
I’m still not really sure about front wheel drive. To me power really needs to go to the rear wheels. So RWD is a must have for me (AWD is acceptable, though).
I like black interiors. I know they can get really hot in the sun, but they look cool. So black interiors are a must have.
Is an AC a must have? I think that depends where you live. We only need them a few days out of the year here in Seattle. So an AC is not on my must have list.
What about gadgetry? Every year they seem to cram more technology into cars. You know, Bluetooth and whatnot. Well, I’m old (43) and I guess I don’t really care about it. My phone doesn’t need to talk to my car. A nav can be ok but usually they seem a few years behind what you get with your phone. So, yeah, I don’t really consider any of the latest gadgetry to be a must have.
Well what about horsepower? Two of my cars have V8s with a fair amount of horsepower. But one of my cars has a gutless four banger. And that’s fine. I enjoy driving that car, too. It’s just different. So horsepower is not a must have for me, necessarily.
Does a car have to be good looking? Well, I wouldn’t want a car that is downright ugly. But looks aren’t really a huge deal. For me, anyway.
Ok, how about fun to drive? I think fun to drive is a must have. You only live once, after all. But what’s fun to drive? It’s hard to quantify but you know it when you feel it. And it is definitely a must have.
So let’s see, what do we have so far: brakes, RWD, black interior, solid feeling, shoulder belts and fun to drive. Oh, and seat warmers. Yep, that about sums it up.
This article has not been altered by Chrysler.