By on April 21, 2017

exp

I had an interesting conversation with a old friend of mine over the weekend. When I met this fellow, he was past 30 years old, unemployed, living with his mother, lacking both a goal and a direction. He stayed that way into his early 40, when another friend of mine and I pulled some strings to get him a tech job. I exhaustively back-filled his resume with imaginary work and ensured that at least some of it would check out if necessary. For about six months, I surreptitiously trained him on-the-job and picked up his slack while he learned the trade. I figured he would thrive from there …

… and I was right, In fact, he wound up as a Very Important Executive Type for a major tech firm. He’s so important now, and so well-compensated, that he has become bored. Much of our Sunday brunch consisted of him lecturing me about all the opportunities I was missing out in California, both financial and, er, gynecological. The only response I had to this was that the most important opportunity in my life is the opportunity to be a present-and-accounted-for father to my son, so I was gonna stay in Hicksville, Ohio, until that particular job is finished.

Having agreed to disagree on the future desired course of our lives, we made small talk about various tech-industry trends and buzzwords. “As a platform architect,” he noted, causing me to choke a little bit because my allergen-buzzword-receptors became permanently overloaded around the time people started adding the phrase “as a service” to everything, “I’ve come to realize that my job is actually to limit choice. You can’t give people a bunch of choices, even if there are several very good options available. You narrow it down. My job is to narrow it down into a decision that any idiot can safely make, because most executives are idiots who were promoted solely on the basis of their height.”

It was then that I experienced what the Buddhists call satori, or enlightenment, in the matter of the Ford EXP and Mercury LN7.

Henry Ford might have limited the Model T buyer to a single color “choice,” but he offered a wide variety of body styles from “runabout” to pickup truck to three different sedans including the famed “centerdoor” variant. In doing so, he was simply respecting the “best practices” of the day, which called for a relatively limited number of mechanical platforms that could support an endless variety of coachbuilt styles. To a generation of buyers who had grown up in the actual horse-and-buggy era, this made perfect sense. Why wouldn’t you have a body style that perfectly suited your specific needs? It was common for well-off families to have multiple coaches that could all be drawn by different arrangements of their equine stock, from an open runabout to a post-chaise to the infamous “coach and six” that was sort of the Range Rover of the day.

It was common, therefore, for bachelors to have a small coach suitable for two at most, even though he expected to marry well before he turned 30. The same was true for ladies of quality who had the means to drive their own coaches. It would have been considered ridiculous for a dashing young Rawdon Crawley type to have a coach-and-six; after all, he had no sprogs to drag around!

This concept of the bachelor vehicle persisted into the Thirties, with various rumble-seated coupes and the like, and it was rekindled as the “personal car” exemplified by the first-gen Thunderbird and Corvette. You also had the various British sports cars, which were meant to seat two in pleasant intimacy. After settling down, a young man could choose between the various coupe, hardtop, sedan, convertible, and wagon arrangements of the full-sized American cars.

This was a lot of choice, and as my platform-architect friend would note, it didn’t appeal to everybody. As the dealer model shifted from order-your-car to delivery-from-stock, and as women rose from a minority to a majority of the decision-making population, the amount of choice available to the average car buyer dwindled rapidly. We’ve gone from having five or six body styles available on every platform to the banal duality of sedan-and-SUV versions — but even that is too much choice to satisfy the Millennials’ urge towards herd behavior so we are well on the way to the singular tyranny of every car being a five-door box.

The question is whether anybody will choose to rebel from this conformity.

If they do, perhaps something like the Ford EXP or Mercury LN7 will appear. The whole purpose of the Ford EXP was to proclaim that you did not need to carry extra people around with you. It was no faster than an Escort, just like the Honda CRX was no faster than the equivalent Civic hatchback. It was simply more stylish. It had style for its own sake. Even if you don’t like the way the EXP looked — few did — you have to admit that it was unique.

So today’s question is: Could you ever see yourself buying a car that was a two-seat variant of an existing vehicle, knowing that it had no extra virtues besides style? Would you buy a Focus EXP? A plus-sized CRX? A Mazda MX-3 without rear seats? Do you require the safety blanket of seats that will go empty? Or could you make it with just the two seats, if you tried?

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75 Comments on “QOTD: Just The Two Of Us?...”


  • avatar
    Chopsui

    To answer your question, yes I would. I’m actually one of those few who liked the EXP back in the day. I was in high school at the time for what it’s worth.

    Also, fuck your friend. I hope he recognizes the unearned boost he got in life and isn’t some smug up-by-the-bootstraps shit-heel like some around here.

    • 0 avatar
      operagost

      Like my in-law who recently posted a missive on how she “made it” as a single mom with three kids despite the people (I have no idea who these people are) claiming she couldn’t. All on her own! Except for,
      – The food stamps
      – CHIP
      – free school lunch
      – the child tax credits
      – the money, car, and temporary housing I gave her family
      – the money her latest baby daddy’s parents gave her
      – the free babysitting from my wife

  • avatar
    NoID

    At this stage in life I can’t say yes because I’ve got a number of kids that can best be described as a minimum of 4. I need a back seat.

    If I had room in the budgetary stable for a 3rd car? You betcha.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Tried to make it through one summer with a Corvette as my only vehicle. Failed miserably.

    Even for a young single guy, you do not realize the number of times that you need at least one extra seat until you do not have one available.

    Many nights had to leave the ‘vette behind and ride along in my buddies Dodge Dart. :-(

    So I got a fullsize Dodge van and installed a ‘disco’ era custom interior.

    Solved the seating problem but not the problem with having two vehicles that were totally unsuited for driving around Ontario in the winter.

    At the Ford dealership, the EXP front end was referred to as resembling ‘a frog being castrated’.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    A two door variant? Sure…it would depend on some factors, but I have driven two door vehicles before.

    But two seater? Nah. Not of a standard mainstream vehicle. Mostly because they tend to be smaller vehicles, and I don’t prefer to sit in such things…the seats are often far too close to the floor for me to have any semblance of back or knee comfort. And I’m not approaching retirement age or anything either. This was a problem as far back as my teens. I just can’t sit in short, low cars for very long.

    And I don’t want a pick up truck.

    There’s nothing in between that’s a two-seater that I can think of. But if there is such a thing in mid-size sedan size or larger that only seats two and goes like a bat out of hell, I’d consider that.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I tote around my parents and grandparents too often to have a 2-seater as my only vehicle.

    Interestingly, my cargo/trunk needs are about zero, so if you want to sacrifice on that aspect I’m golden.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    Unlike the author, as an early-thirties bachelor (who lives in a rented apartment and has a reasonable job with median income, student loans, and a hobby) I can only afford one car, and that one car has to be flexible. A Mazda 3 hatchback does the job while being fairly fun. It’s also not a monstrous SUV or truck, and puh-lenty of single thirtysomethings have owned similar cars over the past twenty years. Just ask Subaru.

    Before that, I owned a fourth-gen Trans Am, which was surprisingly capable for what it was in terms of being able to schlep stuff (it was my college car and it could hold a LOT of stuff). When it was time to retire that car, I wasn’t going to buy a new Camaro because I hated the gunslit visibility and in my heart I was always a Pontiac type. With no G8 left, and no GTO or Trans Am, I had to look elsewhere. Truthfully, I had gotten that kind of stuff out of my system, and I always liked Mazda.

    If I could afford a Miata as a secondary car, I would buy it, but I live in the Northeast and don’t own a house, so having space to wrench on it or store it during the winter is nonexistent. If I gave up my other hobby (photography), I could possibly afford a used, decent example of a Miata or perhaps another old fourth gen. But that’s insurance, gas, registration, and other costs, and while I suppose I could daily only a Miata, it would mean renting or getting another car when the Miata wasn’t up to snuff. I’d rather dump that money into an a99ii or a9 and go chase airplanes all day. A second car for a single person is the very definition of a luxury.

    Truthfully, I’d rather have an extended (not crew) cab midsize truck, now THAT is a great bachelor mobile. Who doesn’t like four-wheeling? They also buy BMWs or Mustangs. Outdoorsy types get Subarus.

    The other reality is that flashy/obnoxious two-door cars are not necessarily girl magnets, which is how they were marketed in the past.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Agree that “perhaps” a two-door would be nice again…just not sure about a two-seater. Unless (as has been mentioned) I have the disposable income floating around to buy a weekend toy (which I do not!).

    I almost kind of liked the styling of the little EXP. Even test-drove one as a teen to potentially replace my 1978 Plymouth Arrow after it finally gave out. Just couldn’t pull myself around to buying it, though.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      They were plasticky and oh, so very slow. Even teenaged me at the time could see how underwhelming they were. The sporty steering wheel looked amazing in the sales brochure, but very cheap in person.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I already drive a tiny hatchback that wouldn’t be that out of place in 1983 (except for the pod styling), but as much as I virtually never use the back seats, I don’t see giving them up for the sake of style (see the failure of the Mini Coupe).

    Being an automotive hipster, I wouldn’t mind a wagon version of my subcompact, as my wife and I are short enough that a larger back seat wouldn’t be all that beneficial, but a bit more cargo space could be useful.

  • avatar
    Adam_

    Coach and six is a Range Rover? You let the self-made commentariat loose and this is the kind of disinformation they secrete. When did you last see Her Royal Brenda and Phil The Greek in a Range Rover on a state occasion? Four wheelers and a pair are for the estate (and I don’t mean wagon) and no top hats? Got that? Now get up that chimney and there’s two bob in it for you.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    Been there, except I didn’t buy the 2-seater variant because of style. I went from a fullsize passenger van to a standard cab pickup in 2001. My dad scoffed that it was a poor vehicle choice because it only had seating for two (three in a a pinch). I was done school and didn’t plan to start a family anytime soon, so most of the time I was hauling 2 people max.

    Well that truck was my DD until 2015, when I finally gave-in and bought a crew cab. By then I was married with two kids. A big reason for replacing my truck was having to squeeze the kids into the cab on days that I had to pick them up from school, and not being able to take the pickup on family vacations anymore because we didn’t all fit in it.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    Give me a Ford Focus (or any other hatchback) with the long coupe door (easier to get in and out) and you can take out the back seat for all I care. I would prefer the back seat, but I would choose a HB with the coupe door and no back seat over a four door HB with a back seat.

  • avatar
    deanst

    People can’t even cope with 2 doors, so 2 seats are out of the question. I have a hard time committing to an electric car, despite the fact that 99% of the time it’s range would be fine for my needs – as a second car.

  • avatar
    lolcopterpilot

    What about a single bench seat coupe? Three across when needed (i.e. rarely), seems to be a more efficient use of space than two rows of two bucket seats. Is it that much harder to pass modern safety standards with one bench vs two rows of two bucket seats?

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I doubt that I’d ever buy a “two seat” car. That is what motorcycles are for.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    How about a stanced and murdered-out Suzuki X-90? Individualism incarnate!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I was married at 23, the kids started at 26, and the last 2-door car I owned was an 82 full-size LTD which left when I was 33, which was 20 years ago.

    I’ve never owned a 2-seater, and probably never will. I prefer the more diverse conversation that’s available with a 4-7 seater.

    BTW, I thought the EXP and LN7 were awesome. They are ultra-rare these days.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My very first car, 1985 Ford EXP, purchased from the Plymouth dealership my father’s secretary traded the car to after she wrecked it. I paid $250 for it and drove it home.

    NO AC, PW, PL, or power steering. I put a completely mismatched set of wider, low profile tires on it. It handled fantastic for a 17 year old and got decent gas mileage.

    As for my next two seat car? Corvette only. Otherwise, I would like to have a back seat.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I currently have a two seat and three seat vehicle in the stable. A 1967 Ford Mustang – the floorpan in the back seat is too fragile to bear being stepped on. The 2004 F150 regular cab is a 3 seat vehicle if someone is comfortable in the center seat.

    When I drive them I am generally alone although when dating my wife (and prior to having a child) the truck was the location of some playful naughtiness.

    Bench seats UBER ALLES!

  • avatar
    r129

    Sure, I would buy a two seater, but probably not as my only car. Since I’m accustomed to owning at least two cars, it wouldn’t be a problem for me.

    Since I value style over practicality, I would drive a two door coupe as my only car, but I’m not sure I would want to go without at least the possibility of carrying the occasional rear seat passenger or extra cargo.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’ve always preferred SUVs to trucks and crew cab trucks to other trucks. But having lived with a regular cab compact pickup as a daily driver for a few months, I think an extended cab pickup would make a lot of sense (assuming some sort of van or SUV as the family conveyance). An extended cab Frontier Pro-4X with the big 4.0L, 6spd and bright blue or burnt orange paint sounds particularly appealing as of late. An Xterra with the VQ and manual is already a hoot to drive around town, imagine now a lighter rear end. Or going up in size an extended cab F150 FX4 Ecoboost. Regular cab? No thanks.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    No, but I’ll split the difference. One thing I’ve always liked was a large grand-tourer coupe. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Challenger, they all happen to be very expensive…think BMW 6-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, Lexus LC, and above those, the various four-seater Aston Martin models and the Bentley Continental GT. Previously, you had less-expensive ones like the Cadillac Eldorado, Oldsmobile Toronado, Buick Riviera, Ford Thunderbird (when it wasn’t a two-seater), the Lincoln Mark series and the Chrysler LeBaron.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Kyree,
      In the early and mid 70’s those PLC’s were at the very top of the automotive heights.

      An Eldorado or Mark Lincoln would have had comparable status on the street then, as a Bentley would now.

      And a T-Bird/Cougar or Toronado would be roughly equivalent to at least a 5 Series.

      A Cordoba, Cutlass, Regal, Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, or Gran Torino Elite would be the equivalent of a 3 Series in that long ago hierarchy.

      Believe me you had to be there, be in the market and live it to realize just how aspirational they were.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        And now you can buy clean examples of any of them for under $5k.

        More beaterriffic ones are like $1,500.

        IMO, there’s no better answer to the automotive fun/dollar question than a big 70’s PLC you’re willing to get stupid with.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I’ve been thinking about a ’79 – ’85 Riviera, just like the one my grandmother had (now she drives a ’14 Soul, which is comparatively uninteresting). I very nearly bought a Riviera Convertible that was for sale a couple of years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        See, I wish I could have witnessed that. Those cars are so *cool.* I suppose now I could buy one and *really* stand out, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Bingo! A two-door coupe is what I’m looking for… with seating for four in the very occasional instances when I need it. I miss the old full- and mid-sized two doors, and the personal luxury coupe in particular. I’ve been talking about these for a number if years now.

      I was at the New York Auto Show this week and sat in the Dodge Challenger GT AWD. It was great. I could see myself in one of those – quite literally with no options (especially no stripes, scoupes and wings) and in the color of my choice. I’m not sure I could deal with the mid-30’s entry price, however.

      It’s a pity Chevy did away with the Monte Carlo, which could be had new for $20-21K in its last few years on the market.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Most of the benefits of a 2 seater with the ability to transport another couple when required.

        However they truly blossomed during the ‘Brougham’ era. Half vinyl roof, opera windows, coach lights, hidden headlights, velour or Corinthian leather, colour matching dashboards and big block V8’s (if you chose the right options). The Cutlass which was the top selling car in North America for a while even had the option of ‘rotating’ front bucket seats.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I happily drove a 1984 CRX 1.5 5-speed for 10 years. Even though it wasn’t a whole lot smaller and no faster than a regular Civic hatch (a best friend had a 1984 Civic S), the two-seater felt more involved and intimate, even if it was largely illusory. At this stage of my life, I’d rock another two-seater hatch if it had both spirit and cargo space.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    My older brother had an LN7 which I rode from Cleveland to Chicago riding on the metal cargo bar that was where a back seat would have been. Brought a pillow to sit on. It sucked, but it’s proof that a two seater can indeed work.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    My vehicle fleet consisted solely of an NB Miata and a motorcycle for 4 years.

    I have no kids and no chance of having kids.

    Still, I would still not opt for a 2-seater purely for style reasons. I’m inherently practical, functionality has a style all its own.

    I would happily consider a 2-seater that offers other advantages beyond simply looking neat.

    The closest I might come is opting for an Extended Cab truck over a Crew Cab. You get the utility of some rear seats, albeing cramped ones, and also get easier parking and a lower purchase price.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    “…too much choice to satisfy the Millennials’ urge towards herd behavior….”

    Brill-yunt!

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I’d guess a big factor in killing off the two-seater is insurance. If your vehicle doesn’t have four doors, my recollection is that they really stick it to you because you’re assumed to be irresponsible.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Insurance may have something to do with it. But I’d say changing tastes were the culprit. Somewhere along the way, young men stopped buying two-seat sports cars as “bachelor mobiles,” and began buying pickups and Wranglers.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          Very true. This may have begun a LONG time ago. My Senior Prom date was a girl out of my league (most were) and she was quite the forward, slightly bossy, only child. She took one look at my “pimpin” two-tone red G-body with V8 and cathouse-edition interior, and promptly asked my father if we could take his new Bronco II. Me, being eager to please, swallowed my pride and complied. I did not understand the desire invoked in girls by tall, slow, and boxy vehicles, but many of her girlfriends made jealous comments.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Meh me Chevette was a 2 dr. I don’t recall anything romantic or bachelor-legit about it.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The only two seaters I ever owned were pickups. Even then only the King Cab Nissan came with the front layed out as God intended trucks should be.

    That is buckets and a floor shifted manual.

    The other trucks I had to rip out tose unsafe and useless bench seats and put a four or five on the floor with a decent engine.

    I don’t believe a rear seat is neither here nor there. It’s how comfortable you are in the front.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    One of the few Fords that ever really had my interest as a buyer, though I never got one. Ford had already ruined everything with a V6 so the i-4 was the engine of choice but their reputation for reliability, at least for me, had already been shot.

    That same kind of distinctive styling today, even if made more aerodynamic with curved edges and headlamp shields, would have my attention.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Would love to drive a 2 seater with reasonable cargo space, that you don’t sit 2 inches from the ground in, and doesn’t have bolstered recaro-style seats, and that isn’t super flashy looking. Was thinking a mustang with the back seat removed and the wheelbase shortened wouldn’t be bad earlier. Or a raised 86 without the backseat and with comfortable front seats. We’re never having kids so I’m not in a rush to buy an irresponsible vehicle anyway.

    The EXP is my favourite vehicle Ford have ever produced, near the top of my dream list, I’ve never seen one in person in my 26.5 years of existence though.

  • avatar
    dwford

    My first car was a yellow 1982 Mercury LN7. I liked the style of the grill and the bubble hatchback (later stolen by the EXP) better than the Ford. 4 speed stick, air conditioning and I was ready to go at 16. Later the passenger seat back broke and had to be propped up with a log. The rear cargo area may or may not have carried human passengers on a few occasions.

  • avatar
    DirtRoads

    There are no 4 door Corvettes, so that one I ca’t address. I have had several Fiat 124 Spiders, but they actually sorta kinda had a back seat. I had a Northstar Eldorado, and it had really long doors and a luxurious back seat suitable for … stuff… And my pickup has a bench seat, which has also proven suitable for… stuff.

    Nope, can’t answer your question Jack :)

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      I’ve owned a 350Z, 3 X1/9s (still have one), I currently own a 2012 Abarth (which for all intents and purposes is a 2 seater) a D.C. Also own a 2001 Highlander and a 2013 E350 BlueTec, so the spacecraft for more passengers is well covered.

      I always liked the look so of the little Fords, but knew the drivetrain was nothing to get wiggy about. One has to take into consideration what the competition offered back then and style-wise, it wasn’t much.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I wouldn’t buy a 2 seater but I could easily do a 2 door, preferably hatchback.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I had a 1993 Honda Del Sol Si for about five years while in college. Grasshopper green nonetheless. Even after I got married, I soldiered on with it another five-six my months but my first job required me to have ,on occasion , more than one passenger in my car. It was a sad day, but I had to let it go.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Contrary to what Jack’s saying, “bachelor-mobiles” are still very much around. In fact, many of them are two-seaters. They’re called “pickup trucks.” And I do believe they sell quite well.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Hahaha good God no. I actually kind of did the opposite- my Z was incompatible with my commute, so I sold it. Now I’m in a G37S 7AT, and it’s a great fit. I mean, I’m in great shape, I learned how to dress in NYC, and I’m still young…. I don’t need a car to express my style :)

  • avatar
    IwantmyEXP

    Yes, yes, yes, no safety blanket needed… I would love a Focus EXP. See username.

  • avatar
    spamvw

    Remember an Audi TT is just a two place Golf.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I think the ‘just in case’ culture we have today (i.e. just in case xyz happens, I need room in my car to bring along a duplicate of all my worldly posessions), not having enough room ‘just in case’ they need to bring all the people in their lives along, 2 seats ain’t going to cut it.

    I think those who have the means and IDGAF attitude to take the lifestyle-threatening risk of owning a 2-seater could afford either a Miata as a 4th car or a proper exotic with 2 seats.

    Personally, I own 3 vehicles, 2 of which only have 2 seats (and 25+ yrs old). All of them also have 3 pedals, so who am I to have any opinion as a <0.1%er to begin with?

  • avatar
    OzCop

    Corvette, C 6 and C7, as well as the C5 to a lesser extend, are danged good highway driving cars and deliver fuel mileage matching 4 banger numbers if driven with fuel mileage in mind. And the ride isn’t bad either. My wife and I threw enough clothing and gear in the hatch of my C 6 Corvette and took off on a 4 thousand mile trip for years ago, which consisted mainly of secondary roads between Dallas/Fort Worth and Lagoona Beach, CA. Mountains, twisties, and as little interstate as we could manage. In those cars there is enough leg room, elbow room, and head room that comfort was not a real problem. Best of all, average mpg for the entire trip from north Dallas to the Pacific coast, and running the backroads and biways, through the mountains, and some degree of spirited driving produced a healthy 33.5 mpg.. Two people and a couple of weeks worth of luggage, computers, and other necessities were no problem, and my back handled it well…as did her’s. Her biggest ailment was failing to follow through on a bit of Dramamine prior to testing highway 89 A in Arizona, south from Flagstaff, through Sedona and up the mountain through Jerome, and points beyond. I was 70 then, and I would do it again in a heartbeat at 74…

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I’ve taken my wife on road trips in the C7. A bit tighter than your C6 inside we were ok, but it was snug. Being a convertible made it worse than the coupe. So, I have several cars, and when we need the room, we take her car. Taking the ageing Golden for a ride? Station car.

      Would I own a two seater as an only car? No.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Bring back bench seats. 3 wide or 2 deep.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    I guess I’m a lucky bastard: Austin-Healey 100M two-seat/door roadster, A-H 3000–technically, a ‘2+2’ but the back seats are only suitable for a small amount of luggage or me sideways (both by position and state of sobriety). Oh, and a Mustang GT–will seat 4 in a pinch, but the front seaters really suffer. All manuals, too (though the Healeys have electric overdrive).

    It’s getting harder to get in and out by the year, so there may be a CUV or sedan in my future.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I always thought of the Pinto, Mustang II, Escort, EXP, Fiesta, etc. as part of Ford’s eternal quest to make a better Cortina.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The Honda CR-Z would have likely graced my driveway before I was married if a Si powered version ever existed.

    I owned a Ford EXP, was my first car. I have mixed feelings about the ugly little wart. Cheaply built, under powered, atrocious chassis dynamics, ATROCIOUS.

    On the other hand it was so wonderfully raw. Power nothing, not even steering. No AC, just one wing mirror, 5-speed manual, you sat basically on the ground, it felt like a go-kart, both good and bad. You can find its picture right next to the definition of “under steer.”

    Given a Chevy Avalanche is a Suburban with a truck bed, sort of, I’ve actively owned not one, not two, but three vehicles that were variants of some other vehicle that offered more seats than its platform mate.

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    Would a standard cab short bed pickup count?
    If I were to go buy a brand new vehicle that’s most likely what I’d be searching for.

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    Aren’t Tahoe’s the one-step-up of this? I mean, the Suburban is the sensible choice – not the sporty Tahoe.

  • avatar
    JiminTampa

    The first new car I purchased was a 1982 Ford EXP. I owned it for 5 years and was very happy with it. Many friends rode in that back space with few complaints. Great for hauling my bike to triathlons too. Traded it for a Merkur XR4ti. Once I owned the Merkur I realized the EXP was really an economy car.

  • avatar
    skor

    Nicely written, Jack.

    First…. “because most executives are idiots who were promoted solely on the basis of their height.”

    That’s not your imagination. Psychological studies have shown over and over again that people perceive tall, good-looking men to more competent, trustworthy, etc. Tall, good looking men will go farther in life just because they are tall, good-looking men. On the other hand, a woman can be too good looking for her own good.

    As to the rest, I remember the Ford EXP. I actually liked the looks of the first gen EXP, but never wanted to own one. To my great misfortune, I owned an early Ford Escort. Enough said.

  • avatar

    I transport more than one other person frequently enough that I would not want a two seater as an only car.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Back in the day I owned a CRX and it was a great little car and I probably only regretted it not having a rear seat a couple of time. I do appreciate a two-seater, but now that I’m old and crabby I’m more inclined to get a 2-door car with a rear seat, however there isn’t much to pick from anymore.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    My brother’s first new car was a 1988.5 EXP (he couldn’t afford to insure a Mustang GT). It had the new aerodynamic front end and the bubble hatch from the LN7. It was a miserable little POS. Drove exactly like the Escort it was based on. An Escort GT or CRX was no more money; a GTI just a little more.

    The front-end of the ’83 in your picture is no more offensive than the TC3 of the era. Not pretty.

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    Bachelors today aren’t looking for personal sports coupes to convey them in style, they are looking for versatile vehicles that espouse “manliness” and accommodate all the luggage required to maintain an appropriate “active lifestyle.” I think the EXP was a great looking little car, but my Nova had much more room and bench seats that proved quite useful on date nights. Because THAT’S what bachelors want! Bench seats.

  • avatar
    cdmoore1972

    I knew someone who owned a CRX precisely because it only had two seats and she didn’t want to be bothered to haul other people around.

  • avatar
    tomm

    I had recently graduated from college and had just gotten my dream job working as an engineer at an Auto company, Ford, back when these cars came out. I still remember my disappointment at first seeing an EXP prototype. I was surprised that it had the same economy car drivetrain as the Escort, and with automatic transmission in a 2-seater no less!
    I feel the same way today – a 2-seater should be fun to drive. To me the trade-off of losing some practicality with a 2-seater is getting better performance, handling, etc. I don’t see the point of an economy car 2-seater.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    Oh, does this bring back memories… my best friend had an EXP back in the late 80s. I drove it around when I flew up for his wedding. Manual transmission… no air conditioning… but I developed a fondness for that car. Nothing special, but decent, economical transportation. I was no stranger to PLCs… had many big coupes… ’74 Ford Elite… ’78 Pontiac Grand LeMans… ’81 Thunderbird… ’96 Thunderbird… ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC… a 427 A/C Cobra (replica), and now an ’04 C5 Z06. It’s rare that I have a passenger in the car… even rarer when I have more than one passenger. Despite that, I also have an ’08 Mercury Grand Marquis and a ’16 Ram 2500 6.4L Hemi 4×4 crew cab. Gotta cover all the bases!

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Jack,

    I was sure your satori would be “no good deed goes unpunished,” or at least, “…without some twinge of regret.”


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