Last Saturday, the Toronto Sun ran a report on the McMillan family, a twenty-something couple with two young sons, who, worried about the amount of control that modern technology seemed to be exerting on their lives, decided to roll the clock back to 1986. They’ve packed away their i-phones, their tablets and their DVD players, disconnected the cable TV and turned off their internet to, according to the family’s father Blair McMillan, parent the kids the same way they were parented. The ban on all forms of modern technology has worked its way into every aspect of the family’s life and they recently completed a trip across the United States using only a paper map for directions and relying upon nothing more than coloring books and games to keep the kids quiet in the back seat. Somehow, they managed to make it home safe, sound and sane.
To young folks like the McMillans. 1986 must seem like the stone age, but to my Cro-Magnon mind it still seems pretty fresh. I turned 20 years old in September of that year and, after several failed attempts, had finally landed, and kept, my first real job. That summer, I bought and quickly re-sold a beat-up 69 Chevelle SS 396/4 speed car and turned that cash into a Kawasaki KZ550 street bike. That autumn, I would attend my first Sci-Fi convention and would discover something that would open my eyes to an entire world outside of Snohomish, WA: Japanese cartoons. Outside of the important changes that happened in my own life, 1986 had more good than bad. The economy was improving and so, after a decade in the doldrums, was the national mood. Neon colors were in, Top Gun kicked ass at the box office, and Eddie Murphy had a single in the top 10. Strange days, I know.
A trip back to 1986 is a trip back to my youth, but what if that wasn’t the case? What if I were plunked back in time as I am today, a 45 year old man with a wife and kids, kids, kids, with a desk job, a house payment and an equivalent salary in 1986 dollars? What if I had to see those times as my parents did? Not knowing how things would turn out, what choices would I make? What would I be driving? That’s the crux for any article on the Truth About Cars, isn’t it? Using 20/20 hindsight, what would any of us choose if we went back in time? There are more great choices than you might think at first. Let’s discuss.
Naturally, there should be a few rules to guide our discussion, but let’s cast a wide net. First, realistically speaking, in your current life situation, what car or cars would you choose as the equivalent of the ones you have today? This means if you have a new 2013 vehicle, you should choose a 1986 model, if you have a 2007 model, you would have a 1980 equivalent, get it? Second, what ones would you buy new given a budget similar to the one you have now and third, what would you get if the gloves were off – if you hit the lottery and could have whatever you wanted?
Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.