Randy Fitzgerald writes about the newest, hottest cars for celebrating middle age.
What does a midlife crisis look life? Traditionally, it’s looked a lot like a red sports car.
But a recent national survey suggests that the typical “crisis-buyer” car would be a black sports/muscle car for men and a red SUV for women. The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for CarMax, suggests that, overall, sports cars still rank number one (20 percent), with SUVs (17 percent) and sedans (15 percent) close behind in midlife preferences.
Twenty-five percent of those questioned (1,005 adult participants) said they probably would buy a midlife crisis car – or perhaps a midlife celebration car. That’s apparently what you choose somewhere between the ages of 45 and 54, when all the kids who’ve been driving your car have left home.
NOT SO MUCH CRISIS AS FREEDOM
Frank Driggs, owner and president of Import Autohaus on West Broad Street, thinks “crisis time” really doesn’t begin until in one’s late 50s. “It’s the freedom of the two-seaters, no more car pooling, no more station wagon.”
It’s also a time people tend to have more discretionary income – important because midlife crisis/celebration cars don’t come cheap. “Only midlifers can afford a car like the Corvette,” Driggs says. “Nobody young can afford the insurance. Once kids are out of the house, your insurance rate is tremendously lower.”
Driggs identifies Mercedes, Porsche and BMW as the top “statement cars” – and the statement is: “OK. I’ve made it!” As the survey reports, midlife buyers also like muscle cars – the Corvette and Mustang being the ones most mentioned. “The new Corvette is on fire,” says Driggs. With Italian lines, 650 horses under the hood and a 2.95 time in the 0-60, that’s probably an understatement.
NOT JUST FOR MEN
If you think muscle cars are just for men, a wide-ranging TruCar.com report lists the Chevy Camaro as the top dream car for women, followed by two Mini Coopers, a Porsche Cayenne and a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.
Driggs has his own thought: He believes that, hands down, the best woman’s crisis car is the Mercedes CLK, E series, a gorgeous four-seater convertible.
He does point out that when you drive around the West End of Richmond, you’ll see a lot of Mini Cooper convertibles driven by women in their mid-50s.
The reason for the huge appeal of the Mini Cooper to women, according to Dan Weinberger, store manager of Crown Mini of Richmond, is that these smaller cars allow a woman’s personality to shine through.
Each Mini Cooper can be personalized and customized, he says, with hundreds of options available. You might choose a green exterior with toffee interior, for example, or the most popular Mini color ever, pepper white (an off-white eggshell color).
“And at about $25,000,” Weinberger says, “you’re getting a car designed by BMW with a motor the same as that on a $160,000 car.”
Randy Fitzgerald, a former newspaper columnist and college instructor, is a regular BOOMER columnist.
BOOMER’S TOP 10 MIDLIFE CRISIS – OR CELEBRATION – CARS
CHEVROLET CORVETTE. “The 2016 is a huge midlife crisis car,” says Driggs. “It looks like a Ferrari. It’s Batman and Star Wars.” Past-year models are not too shabby, either.
CHEVROLET CAMARO. The biggest-selling sports/muscle car in the United States. Nostalgia started in 2006 for retro 1960s models.
FORD MUSTANG. A very retro car, still among the most-desired, although apparently not as hot as five or six years ago.
PORSCHE 911. One of the most desirable vehicles on the planet, according to Auto Express. It doesn’t matter which year. Porsche Boxter is an amazing car, too, and half the price of the 911.
JAGUAR F-TYPE. Successor to the E-types of the 1960s. Better looking than many higher priced luxury sports cars and with great nostalgia.
BMW Z4. A classic two-seater sports car. Low-slung and sleek.
BMW X5. A crossover that drives like a sports car. Not a bad combination for a midlife crisis car.
RANGE ROVER AND RANGE ROVER SPORT. The combination of name, luxury and performance.
MINI COOPER. Customizable and personal. Very appealing to women.
MERCEDES E-CLASS CONVERTIBLE (FORMERLY CLK). Four-seat convertible. Maybe the signature midlife car for women.
– Randy Fitzgerald