If You Could Only Drive Cars From The Year You Were Born, How Screwed Would You Be?

Illustration for article titled If You Could Only Drive Cars From The Year You Were Born, How Screwed Would You Be?
Photo: Ford (Getty Images)

Let’s imagine that we now live in a world where you can only drive cars from one year: the year you were born. How screwed would you be?


You can interpret ‘screwed’ in any way you like. Maybe it was just a mediocre year for cars overall. Maybe it’s the worst year for your favorite marque. Maybe you were simply born in an era of very terrible fuel economy, notorious unreliability, or just ugly design. Maybe you simply prefer the cars you fell in love with ten years later, when you were a young and impressionable kiddo.

Personally, I would be extremely disappointed in my results. The cars from my birth year, 1996, are generally just awful. I’m not a fan of the rounded shapes of the era—everything felt kind of bulky and, for lack of a better word, bulbous. I’m a bigger fan of sharper lines and wedge-like shapes. Hand me a curvaceous Viper GTS, and I’d probably drive it, but I would be disappointed. It also had that weird, downward-sloping front end. Ugh.

It was also a Year of Trucks (honestly, what year isn’t these days?), and y’all know that I’m simply not a fan of trucks. Which meant that the only car in the top-five best-selling vehicles that year was the Ford Taurus. Aside from the fact that Taurus is my astrological sign, there was nothing else redeeming about that car. Those beady little headlights. The reverse-hourglass shape, where it looked like someone had pinched the front and rear ends and then inflated the passenger cabin with air. The weird, offset, ovular dashboard design. And don’t even get me started on the wagon version. I get chills of disgust just thinking about it. I simply couldn’t respect myself behind the wheel of a Ford Taurus.

That being said: I just purchased the most beautiful vehicle from 1996 that I am excited to share with you all later today.

I am, however, A Youth. I’m interested to see if other folks have better views of cars from their birth year, since it seems like folks remember cars from the 1960s through 80s quite fondly. Let me know in the comments.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


If you think 1996 was bad.... hoo boy... would I love to trade you for 1974.

That said, I did actually own a vehicle from my birth year once, a 1974 BMW 2002tii very similar to this:

Now, that was a fantastic car, but for daily driving/trips, it was certainly tiresome at points. Vehicle NVH has come a LOOOOOONG way in the following decades.

Hell, my 96 Cherokee was more comfortable/quieter on highway trips than my 74 BMW.