QOTD: Turning Down That Ride?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It’s not good to live your life in fear, at least if you can help it. Sometimes there’s no choice but to soldier on with a stiff upper lip, hoping the bombers won’t show up again tonight, but for most of us in the Western world things are pretty okay — regardless of what your coworker posts 18 times a day on Facebook and Twitter.

Yet fear persists in more specific circumstances. One of them may involve a certain vehicle not owned by yourself, but someone you know.

There’s two ways a vehicle can strike queasy, palm-sweating fear into the heart of a mortal. First, it may be in such a state of disrepair that the floor stands a good chance of dissolving beneath you, dropping you onto the highway… if the linkages, an axle, or gas tank don’t get there first.

Or it could be that your friend/family member/coworker simple can’t handle what they bought. Big or small, muscular or wimpy, any car can be a cumbersome, too-hot-to-handle beast in the hands of someone who doesn’t trust their own skills, second-guesses their ability at every turn, or just generally couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a 10-gauge shotgun at five paces. Money and a license can open dangerous doors.

As for myself, I treasure the various tendons and bones that hold my spindly body together. I may live in Canada, but I know what becomes of a person on “disability,” and it aint the luxurious fever dream of a very online brodude who just left Radwood. Ol’ Steph needs to stay in one piece, which is why I avoid — like the plague — the two-door 2009 Hyundai Accent driven by a friend’s mother. One short drive was enough. Have you ever been in one of those things? The Grim Reaper rides shotgun, regardless of passenger count, and IIHS crash ratings bear this out. The shocking lack of….cushion…was vividly apparent during that one drive, showing just how far we’ve come in terms of passenger safety (and vehicle bloat) in recent years.

In no other vehicle, even a friend’s long-gone ’72 Super Beetle, has my head rubbed the headliner in the front seat. Oh wait — I forgot to mention the Fiat 500. Despite its four-wheel drums and a transmission held to the engine with dental floss, that old VW was still a vehicle I had no reservations about getting in. Not so with the Accent.

For some, the object of their ire may have been an early-model Pinto liftback, for obvious reasons.

Luckily, I’ve managed to avoid the kind of flayed rustbuckets that were once commonplace on highways across the continent. Thank the recession and subsequent rock-bottom interest rates for the plethora of newish vehicles on today’s roadways, even if the average age of a road-going car is still 11-plus years old. As for specific drivers, there’s a handful of people who I’d rather avoid as a chauffeur.

Over to you, B&B. You’ve all lived long and eventful lives, and dangerously fragile vehicles and Achilles-heeled drivers no doubt factored into them. Let’s hear those stories. What rides did you turn down, and why?

[Image: Hyundai]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jan 17, 2020

    My former best friend had a real thing for just awful cars. His first car was a 1960 Ford Galaxie 500, which was just a complete mess. I put my hand through the driver's side quarter panel just leaning on it slightly. It didn't last long after that, it blew up it's transmission about a month later, and went right to the junkyard. After that turd, he got a Triumph TR-4A, which made the Ford seem solid and reliable. The engine had 1 totally dead cylinder, one sort of dead cylinder and two that fired well. The differential howled, their garage floor was covered in rust dust, after the car just going in and out. His mother's six cylinder Gremlin was a great car compared to those awful things. Riding in either of them scared me, the brakes were scary bad and the Triumph was so slow it was dangerous in traffic. When he started working steadily, he saved up his money and his grandparents kicked in some cash and he got a very nice '70 Corvette convertible. It had a hopped up engine in it and he loved that car. Of course, being a young guy who wanted to get married and have a kid meant the Vette had to go. His first "serious" car was a hand me down '72 Olds Cutlass from his wife's parents. When he started making some money, the Vette was back for a year or so, then he had a Porshe 944 for a long time, then a couple of BMW's, a Mustang, which he hated, and since then, it's been BMW's and Mercedes. He's a father of three now, grandfather of 4, smokes a lot of pot and looks fantastic. His wife looks like his mom now, and she's a couple of years younger than he is (63). He had a Honda S2000 last I heard for a play car, and drives a high end BMW to work every day. The Honda, of course, is vastly more reliable than the BMW is.

  • Beken Beken on Jan 20, 2020

    I remember my dad's 1960 Pontiac Strato Chief. When he finally got rid of it in 1972, the fenders had literally rusted through and so did the rear passenger seat floor. You can see the asphalt while sitting in the car. It had the wonderful GM Straight 6 motor in it that would not break but I did expect to fall through onto the road at anytime. It had drum brakes all around, so stopping was always a prayerful proposition when going home meant driving via a hilly mounting highway. Of course living in a paper mill town in the late 60's accelerated the rate in which a perfectly good car would crumble all by itself.

  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).