Do you relate to the Hipster lifestyle? Or do you dress and live your life surrounded by the Rockabilly Era of the 1950’s? Are you a free spirit and want to travel the country? Or do you live by an Eco-Friendly Ethos and reducing your carbon footprint is at the top of your agenda? You may even want a rare beauty that no-one else (or hardly anyone else) has to reflect your affinity for something unique. Whatever the reason, you are bound to find a car to suit you and your personality by asking (and answering) yourself the following questions. This should start to clarify what you are looking for.
Do you prefer city, suburban, rural or coastal life?
Coastal life is usually associated with a carefree and laid back vibe. So convertibles, Jeeps, the Subaru Manx dune buggy, and campervans (such as the surfers choice – VW Combi) first come to mind.
Suburban lifestyles conjure up images of SUV’s and people-movers with plenty of seating for the family. It also represents first cars for teenagers from the small, sensible hatchback to the older, but popular sportscar.
Rural escapes require more storage than a small two-door convertible can carry, so the larger two-door coupes, small to medium sized station wagons, and crossovers all fit the bill.
City streets are great spaces for small eco-friendly electric microcars, but also reflect thoughts of businessmen in their Mercedes and BMW sedans.
What body shape do you prefer?
Choosing a cars body shape is essential to what your needs are. A van offers you plenty of space in the back for camping gear or camping conversion, and while a coupe offers just two doors, those doors are usually larger to allow for getting passengers, pets or shopping into the back seat. They also offer more boot space than a convertible. However, if the car is just for you and you like to feel the breeze run through your hair, a convertible is an ideal choice. If you’re going off-road, then a sedan or hatchback is not going to get you far. An SUV is usually the best option with steering and space for equipment geared towards adventure. If economy is at the top of your list, then you may want to look at a small hatchback or electric car like the Nissan Leaf – just make a note of how far a single charge will take you (usually 75 miles or 120km’s for a Leaf), and where you can recharge on your journey.
Are you a tech-head that loves all the gizmos and gadgets?
You will probably want to look at the luxury end of car searching for those extra little eccentricities. While there are lots of top-end versions of cars with extra bells and whistles, there are also car brands that have unique features like retractable hood ornaments, GPS synced transmission, fiber optic simulated stars woven into the car headliner, and thermal imaging night vision that the Rolls Royce Wraith has as standard. Vertical gull-wing doors, or Volvo’s drowsiness detection, or BMW’s brake drying system may peak your interest. Another idea you may be interested in is the ‘unique’ type of car that may not be so expensive, but stands out because of its eccentricities like pop-up head lights, rotating front seats, or a car with only three wheels. There are many different features in cars from around the globe that you need to spend time sorting out what attracts you most.
Are you a show off or do you like to blend in?
If you like to blend in (and there’s nothing wrong with that as you’re probably less likely to have your car keyed or targeted in any way), then you’d probably look at more reliable and available classics like the Toyota Corolla or Mazda 2. If, on the other hand you like to be the center of attention, and want everyone to know it, then a statement car is what you need. Perhaps a Chevy Corvette, BMW 4 Series or M3, or an Acura (Honda) Accord with fat alloy wheels, color changing led lights, full body kit and car wrap thrown in.
What color would you choose if you had the choice?
We don’t often have the option of color when it comes to buying a second hand car, as there are often more urgent requirements such as mileage and condition to take into consideration first. However, if you broaden your search and don’t mind what car brand or body shape you get as long as it’s the right color, or search outside your own location, you may find something with all the other requirements as well. If you find the perfect car but it’s not your first, second, or even down the list to seventh color choice, then I have an alternative answer to this problem. Car wraps are the new go-to for customizing your car while protecting the original paintwork, with a range of colors and designs set to ignite your imagination. Of course there is a cost, but it is much cheaper than a total repaint. Research and factor in the extra cost if you have decided on a particular car.
What decade do you wish you lived in?
Why you love the era can be reflected in what car you want. Even if the cars of that era are few and far between, you may find similar models that have been produced and updated in more recent times. The Mini, Fiat 500, and VW Beetle have all enjoyed a revival. I love the 1980s for example. The awesome variety of music, the often hilarious B-grade horror movies, questionable fashion, and the evolution of car design and eco-features as unleaded petrol started to roll out in the mid-eighties. Of course there was the amazing DeLorean which featured majorly in ‘Back to the Future’, but these aren’t in great supply these days, especially since there weren’t many made at the time. Pop-up lights were popular, and cars like the Toyota MR-2, Acura (Honda) CR-X, and Chevy Corvette all had great design and street presence. Classics from the 80’s won’t set you back much, and you could do a makeover for just a few hundred dollars.
What type of music do you enjoy listening to the most?
Quite often we forget about our in-car experience and how it affects our mood. The joy of music is one pleasure we can enjoy in this space by ourselves or shared with others, so think hard about how the space will work for you. If you like music to cruise down the road to, take a look at cars that have a smooth ride and luxurious, comfortable interior about them. From experience, European cars such as Audi, Saab, and BMW have proven to be all of these. BMW also have a huge back catalogue of car models to choose from, that you’d be hard pressed not to find a model that suits you. If, on the other hand you like rocking to some serious classics, you may want to get a car with a larger engine and decent cabin space to handle the customized stereo and speaker system you want to install. You may also want to look at cars with a manual gearbox to give you that extra grunt and engine control, and a strong, solid body that handles well. Whatever your vibe in music, check out my suggested playlists on the website. There will be some songs in there not on the generic playlist websites.
Where in the world is your ideal destination?
Perhaps this is represented by your heritage, lifestyle choice, or the charm, history and language of a nation. If this sounds more like what you’re after, then research the country you are drawn to and look at what cars they produce or what they drive if they don’t produce any. For example, Italy is well known for its fashion capital Milan, screen legend Sophia Loren, and the rather cute and economical Fiat 500 Nuova (or ‘Bambina’ as it was known in New Zealand) produced from 1957 through to 1975. More modern versions of the 500 started to appear in 2007, along with the upmarket Abarth version (featuring all the bells and whistles), and are still being made today. So you can get a really good deal on one of these and feel like you own a part of Italy and its automotive heritage, and they come in a range of fun ‘Pop’ colors. Perhaps your destination is simply the beach or mountain lifestyle.
If this isn’t inspiration enough, start up a Pinterest page and search for ideal cars to put into it. Type in what you’re after and be general in your wording (e.g. beach cars, classic cars, hot hatch, off-road SUV’s, German cars, etc) to get a good range. Think of colors that match your destination as well (like on a flag for example). Then you can compare them all in one place. Alternatively, you could hire a used car from a rental company specializing in older cars for a day to see how it drives, how comfortable it is, and how easily it is to park. It’s like trying before you buy, but without the overbearing salesmen.