Image: Suzuki

Since Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, I started thinking about beach cars. A good beach car doesn’t need to be fancy or fast, but they should be fun, right?

While I don’t live on one of the barrier islands, I do consider myself a resident of the Jersey shore being only a few minutes from any number of beach towns. I also grew up as a surfer kid in Ocean City, and spent many hours fantasizing about the ultimate ride to take my friends and my boards to the beach.

When I was 17, I thought the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was the coolest beach cruiser around. Unlike my buddy David Tracy I didn’t have a clue about the mechanical aspects of the classic Jeep—I just saw the wood paneling and the excellent styling and figured it would be even cooler with a bunch of longboards on top.

As I got older and had to navigate traffic and parking, I realized there is more to a good beach car than style and board capacity. You want something with enough utility to haul your stuff, but small enough to fit into tight parking spots. I would also suggest something with decent gas mileage as much of your driving is slow, stop-and-go movements and gas prices on the islands are always high. And forget about anything with a lot of horsepower, low-speed limits and ticket happy cops will ruin your sports car fun real quick.

I would prefer something small, but 4x4 and a manual. Maybe even a JDM import like a Suzuki Jimny. Our friend Gary Duncan has a few for under $10,000. Oh, the temptation.

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