Tripping Back Now To Places You've Been To: 1986

Thomas Kreutzer
by Thomas Kreutzer
tripping back now to places you ve been to 1986

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.

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  • Dtremit Dtremit on Sep 04, 2013

    Today: 2005 Mazda 6s, fully optioned. Purchased with Ford employee discount. I guess that puts me in a 1978 -- and then more than now, it would have had to be a Ford product. While I'd love to claim a Mark V, it's really not in the same price range. I bought the Mazda late in the MY, so it's entirely possible that the '79 Mustang would have been available in time for this challenge. I probably would have waited for it. I debated between the hatch and sedan on the Mazda, and bought the latter, so I guess I'm looking at a notchback. If I'm stuck with a '78, it'd probably be a tossup between a Thunderbird (most of my family had one at some point) or a Mercury Capri. What we actually bought in 1986 (I was six) was a Tempo LX -- light Regatta Blue, fairly well optioned. Served us fairly well for ten years, though by the end it was a little unsettling at speed. When I was 15, I bought my grandfather's '82 Thunderbird when he was about to trade it in; by the time I turned 16, I'd inherited the Tempo as well. Both were sold to buy an '89 Thunderbird that I frankly still miss.

  • Windsormarxist Windsormarxist on Sep 05, 2013

    Okay- I guess my fleet would actually be quite similar to today. My daily is a 1990 Mercedes 190e, with a second classic car as a 1961 Rover. The best comparison I can think of would be a fintail Mercedes 190 as a daily driver and perhaps a 1938 Packard 110 (Junior Series) as the closest in concept to my Rover 80.

  • Namesakeone The seller is asking someone to pay $5500 for a parts car--with one of the rarest and most valuable parts (the rear window) apparently not included.
  • Jkross22 "Biden desperate to not lose a pillar of mindless Democratic party loyalists" This would have been a more accurate headline. That plank of wood doesn't give a rip about labor unions, other than their historic, one way blind loyalty to the blue tie/white collar party.The minimal synaptic activity in that dementia riddled mind of his probably went like this:"Burgers, hair sniff, jello, hairy legs, wait.... gotta win re-election. Where do I stand, you stupid SOBs. C'mon man."
  • Danddd I remember building the 1966 Barracuda Hemi under glass model when I was a kid. I didn't really like it then. Yeah, I'm old, LOL. Here's a link to a replica to what I built:
  • FreedMike Love the engine, zero interest in a SUV. Thankfully, the engine is available in a CT5 Blackwing for about fifty grand less. Now all I need is about a hundred K for the CT5 Blackwing...
  • Dukeisduke Sorry, lady - in the state of Ohio, your son first needs to smash your skull with a cast iron skillet, then stab you in the neck 30+ with a steak knife, then maybe they'll arrest him: Sydney Powell found guilty of murdering mother in Akron |