I think I’m needing a new car. I’m driving an 8-year-old Subaru Outback, a great, practical car for New England that’s lately been sending me intimations of its imminent demise. Thinking about a new car has naturally gotten me thinking about cars in general, but specifically my cars of years past.

I learned to drive on my father’s 1958 Rambler. And also on my school’s dual-control 1962-ish Chevy trainer. Both standard shift, both three on the column, and I’ve been a standard-shift guy ever since. But my mother in those days was driving a little 1959 Morris Minor convertible (four on the floor, of course), and once I got my license, this became my main ride. It was easy to winkle away from her, and it had a jaunty distinction the square old Rambler lacked.

My own first car was a gift from my father (this in itself stunned me to the point that I was almost unable to utter, “Thank you”). It was a very used, early ’60s Karmann Ghia convertible, essentially a Volkswagon in a sporty body, and I remember it fondly. It was the car I drove during my final year at college, and it was great to have at my disposal in far-from-everywhere Hanover.

The car I really wanted in those days was an Austen Healey 3000, but I was never within miles of being able to afford one. After I got my first job, though, I did find a little used Sprite in great shape,

then moved on to a truly foul used MGB-GT, by far the crappiest car I’ve ever owned. From the early ’70s, to now (except for a used MG Midget—essentially the same as the Sprite—for nearly a year when we lived in England), it’s been mostly new cars, but with economy and practicality very much in mind, and we’ve driven them until they’ve cried uncle. A 40-year automotive yawn. But now, once again, I’m being drawn by the sporty, or at least cheeky. I keep seeing restored 3000’s around,

 but that’s definitely not on. And I keep doing double takes whenever I see one of these:

And, of course, there are Miatas. And all those upscale sporty roadcars.

But realistically, there are certain inevitabilities at play here. Though I’d love to be the kind of guy who could at least keep a little MG-TD in the garage for short toodles on beautiful summer evenings…

… I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to go down here.

So it goes. Or to be a little more sporty, or at least cheeky, c’est la vie.

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