Ask Bark: The Thrill Is Gone (Or Will Be Very Soon)

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Charles writes:

Dear Bark,

The 1986 silver, manual Accord Yokohama company car I was lucky enough to cut my teeth on in rural Ohio still comes to me in my dreams as I’m nigh on middle age. Here I am back in Ohio, and I’m sitting on the theoretical cash for my ’15 Golf TDI. My neurotic self vacillates far and wide: country boy F-150, Tacoma, Fusion Sport, Mustang GT, Civic Type R, Accord V6 Touring? My wife will have the family hauler, but I need something fast and mature that will occasionally accommodate my milk-chugging sons.

My wife says I’m too old for a civic, and she thinks a truck is “trying too hard.” The joy of the car fantasy ceases as soon as you drive one home. This is my struggle: once I choose the car I lose the potentiality. What’s my problem? What’s my car?

Oh, boy. Here comes some tough love. Buckle up.

First things first — I don’t give a hoot what your wife thinks, and neither should you. I’m hoping that you haven’t spent the first half of your life kowtowing to her, because that likely means that you’re in for a rough second act. Get the car you want, as long as it fits within your budget, and tell her to go suck eggs.

Now, as far as the car choice is concerned — no, you’re not “too old” for a Civic, any more than I’m “too old” for a Focus, and the “trying too hard” comment makes my teeth hurt. Or maybe that’s because I’m drinking Coca-Cola at 8:30 in the morning. But whatever. This might sound odd coming from me — perhaps the most vain person in the Western Hemisphere — but people aren’t thinking about your car choice nearly as much as you think they are. Sure, if you have some awesome neon green Civic Type R, other drivers might take notice for a nanosecond, but then they’ll go on about their business. F-150s are so ubiquitous that nobody gives them a second thought, regardless of how lifted and blingy they are. So if you want your car to be mature, great. But don’t get something “mature” because you’re concerned about perceptions.

I do, however, totally get what you’re saying about the thrill of the anticipation of the purchase. Once you actually get the car, you’re now just making a payment on what is now essentially a used car — and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll be doing it for five years or longer. So don’t get caught up in the emotional aspects of the purchase. Pick the car that you think will be rewarding over the long haul, that you’ll look forward to driving each and every day.

I feel like you’ve included the Accord V6 because this is TTAC and that’s what everybody in the comments will tell you to get, but it just doesn’t jibe with your other choices. Toss it. And as much as I love the Fusion Sport, I don’t think it lights your heart on fire. Nix that one, too.

No, to me, your choice appears to be between an F-150, Mustang GT, or Civic Type R. And as somebody who’s done the occasional person-hauling in a Mustang, let me tell you — it works just fine. I’ve had grown men and women in the back seat for half-hour rides, and they survived. Is it ideal? No. Will the Mustang put more smiles on your face the 90 percent of the time you’re not carrying kids? Absolutely.

Go buy your Mustang GT and enjoy the hell out of it every day. And if your wife doesn’t like it, as far as I know, there are other wives available.

Disclaimer: Bark M.’s advice might get you divorced. But if you still want it, email him at and follow him on the Twitters and Instagrams

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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  • DirtRoads DirtRoads on Dec 28, 2016

    Screw that advice Charles. Get a C7Z06 and tell the rest of them to get behind you. They will have no choice.

  • Koreancowboy Koreancowboy on Jan 03, 2017

    "I want you to get an XK" - my wife She's pretty awesome! But yeah, I'm in the same boat with this guy, although I don't care what people think because they're not paying my car note. I agree with Bark's advice, get whatever you think you will look forward to. I've driven myself nuts "deciding on", then searching for cars that I thought I would be satisfied with...eventually, I came to my senses and realised that there's only one car that I would love to have.

  • Lou_BC In my town the dealers are bad for marking up products, even pickups. There were multiple "mega-projects" on the go in my region so money was flowing fast and loose both by corporations and employees. All of that is coming to an end plus we've seen a pulpmill close, one pulpmill line close and a few sawmill closures. Cash is getting tight.
  • Lou_BC Branding is very powerful and effective. I always get a kick out of hardcore Harley Davidson fans. The "Jap scrap" mentality exists even in Canada. I used to get derided for riding Japanese bikes. I confused a bunch of Harley guys once when I pointed out that in Canada, Harley is just as much as a foreign import as Yamaha. They tried to argue that a Harley made in USA was not a foreign made bike. The cognitive dissonance made me laugh.
  • Ajla It's weird how surveys come to conclusions like this when about 100% of the responses then mock the results as ridiculous.
  • Jkross22 It very much depends on the dealer. Just bought a replacement for the CX9. A local dealer gave a $500 discount on a CPO car while another one gave a few thousand dollar discount but was out of the area and we had to drive 5 hours to get. The local dealer still seems to think it's 2022 and cars appreciate when sitting on the lot. I wish them luck.
  • Ajla "and the $34K price doesn't seem too steep." Respectfully disagree. This would be okay at $29K. $34k clangs into way too much.