By on April 23, 2006

 Word up young and financially fortunate pistonheads: don't be dissing minivan man. I know it's easy. It's easy to glance over from your hot hatch, company Bimmer or precious Porsche, see Mr. Mom sitting-up at the wheel of his minivan stuffed with car seats and kids, and snigger. Poor bastard, you think, he doesn't have a clue about cool. I'd rather drive a white Ford Fairline than that bread van. But you're mistaken. A) There's nothing lower than a Ford Fairline, and B) Minivan Man doesn't deserve your cardescension. In fact, there with the grace of God go you.

Morphing from pistonhead into Minivan Man (MVM) is a process, like grieving. At first, when the kids arrive, proto-MVM goes into denial. He hangs-on to his/his partner's two-door, or trades the sports car for a hot two-plus-two. He assures his partner that everything will be OK; the baby will fit in the back, no sweat. (Silently thinking, it's a baby, it'll never remember.) When the new father feels the brunt of his hormone-crazed wife's rage as she tries to maneuver a squealing child into the back, when he sees his precious litte angel in that dark, windowless space; he knows he's been beaten. He gets angry. Then he gets over it.

Bargaining starts. Well, honey, we don't really need something THAT big do we? A large sedan would be just as good, wouldn't it? Maybe something with a sports suspension. You know you like to drive fast too– not that you would with baby on board, but every now and then… Hey, how about a Dodge Magnum SRT8 station wagon? And then, suddenly, he becomes aware of minivans. The ease of those sliding doors. The advantages of all that room: less struggling, less screaming, Mommy can go back there and pick up the damn bottle, infinite cup holders, etc. He gets it.

After depression, acceptance. Then, purchase and pleasure. Today's minivans really are great for kids: safe and comfortable, with lots of room for Happy Meal toys, juice boxes, bikes, groceries, soccer balls, backpacks, PSP's, friends and all that other stuff that makes parenting so expensive. The best ones even have God's gift to hassled adults: rear seat DVD's. The audio for these systems can be faded to the rear of the vehicle, giving MVM the rare chance to have an uninterrupted conversation with his partner. That's no bad thing; unless of course it is. In that case, there's enough room for your beloved to stretch-out in the back and watch Toy Story for the 46th time.

And guess what? Minivans aren't that bad to drive. The Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna can both outrun a glacier and handle like big sedans. Besides, anyone can drive a Porsche fast. Minivan Man has to thread his beast through traffic without spilling Sasha's Slurpee or Rachel's blue Gatorade, while telling Lola that if she touches Sarah one more time she's never going to Chuck E. Cheese again as long as she lives. And that's final.

Supposedly, the one thing denied Minivan Man is sex appeal. Most guys think women are attracted to a flash guy in a flash car. And they are. But those sunglass-wearing sports car types are the "bad boys"– the ones who break your heart in your twenties and/or fuck around with your alimony in your thirties and forties (and fifties and sixties). Minivan Man is sexy to the women he actually has a shot at, and tends to see more often than not: Mommies. I'm not suggesting that all housewives are desperate, but the ones that are look for three kinds of guys: someone young (not you), someone divorced and responsible, or someone who has as much to lose from an affair as they do. Minivan Man.

Anyway, there is life after minivan. Eventually, the kids grow up, get their own cars and leave. If Minivan Man has been prudent– and it goes with the territory– there'll be a nice little nest egg Mazda MX5 or 350Z to enjoy in those golden years. Unless your kid is smart enough to go to grad school. Then by the time you can afford a sports car, the grandkids will come along and you're straight back in big car territory. And anyway, a hard suspension and six-speed gradually becomes less desirable than a bit of class, a comfortable ride and… quiet.

So don't diss Minivan Van. The chances are he's just as crazy about cars as you. He might even have something hot and fast stashed in the garage. For the time being, he's just doing what he's got to do: driving the best vehicle for the job at hand. If you think about it, that's the exact same formula sports car drivers use to select their wheels. Now how about that?

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4 Comments on “Minivan Man Rocks!...”

  • avatar

    And for those who want the best of both worlds…check out Scary!

  • avatar

    In 2001, I purchased a 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager. I removed the back seats, put in a cot, a thermoelectric cooler (the kind you plug into your cigarette lighter) and some other camping gear, and thus transformed my minivan (functionally, if not externally) into a one-person RV. Not only could I go on extended road trips without worrying about finding an affordable hotel, I could even avoid paying for a campground space if the temperature was halfway comfortable (at extremes of temperature, a campground’s power drop was useful to power fans or space heaters as required). Better yet, I could go to bars without having to worry about driving home before my body had metabolized whatever I had consumed….

  • avatar

    What a gem of an article – I’m glad this was linked to from today’s post:

    I plan on taking this route in a bit, but in a strange way I think it will be fun as I have been driving a Miata for the past 5 or 6 years. Maybe the change will be fun?

  • avatar

    My wife really hated the minivan mania that swept the nation (world?) in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Also hated the unnecessarily bloated SUV craze too. As a result we made do with a Passat wagon and a Cherokee. 2 kids. Was it tight? At times yes. But then came the AWD Flex and away went the Jeep. The vehicles we chose served us well but if we had a third child we would have been in minivan in no time – it just makes too much sense. In many cases it is the best vehicle for the job. It is utilitarian at a relatively modest cost. If that sounds familiar it should, think 1950s, 1960s or early 1970’s full size station wagon.

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