Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness for families, where far-flung relatives all come together to interact and share a meal for one time a year. For most families, this is a disaster waiting to happen. If you’re unable to keep the conversation to safe topics like politics, religion, or even tried-and-true safe spaces like abortion, it’s likely the talk will turn to cars, and things could get ugly.
Based on conversations and informal polls with friends and co-workers, we’ve determined the most common car-related arguments you’re likely to see this Thanksgiving.
I bet these will be all-too familiar to all of you!
1. The old who’s-the-best-Romanian-automaker argument: Dacia or Oltcit?
This one always comes up at Thanksgivings around my place. One year my Uncle Murray showed up in an Oltcit shirt, and my cousin Lenny hit him square in the face with a casserole pan full of string beans in some kind of sauce that I swear was blue. I remember that because the resulting stains were purple after it mixed with the blood from Uncle Murray’s nose.
2. Is the front-mid engine layout A Thing?
Every family has its idiots. Even our own Jalopnik family. And sometimes those idiots don’t understand that front-mid engines are indeed a valid, understood layout design.
Thanksgiving always seems to be the time that you have to school these fools about the joys and validity of front-mid. Just be sure to make it quick and be a gracious winner so you don’t ruin dinner for everyone.
3. The great stalk-or-knob feud.
There’s little that will divide a household more than the question of how you like to turn on lights or wipers or other controls: pull a knob or twist a stalk? One year this division got so brutal that before we even got to dessert, two tables were overturned, forming barriers over which the knob and stalk factions would peg each other with rock-hard rolls and fistfulls of stuffing.
Every now and then the shouts and screams would pause for the thunk and twaaaaang of a knife lodging into a tabletop. It’s brutal. Make it clear that in your home, knob and stalk is welcome and you’ll stand for no violence.
4. Two-stroke shaming
Invariably, someone at the Thanksgiving table will start saying some backhanded, snide remarks about the few old Saab and DKW drivers at the table regarding their two-stroke lifestyle. I’ve seen these sort of low-key but relentless attacks build and build until the two-strokers snap, and then everything goes to shit.
A good host should be aware of this, and take precautions to nip it in the bud.
5. Packard would still be here today if they didn’t buy Studebaker in 1954.
Look, nobody really knows what would have happened to Packard had Studebaker been more forthcoming about their dire financial straits prior to the merger, but I do know that rampant speculation on this matter can derail a happy Thanksgiving quicker than anything.
One year, my Grandpa Joe’s constant and vehement insistence that the Studebaker acquisition was a huge mistake got my Aunt Shoshana so riled up that she jammed her forearm into the turkey and punched Grandpa Joe right in the neck with it, like it was a 14-pound boxing glove made of poultry.
6. The “I’d rather push a Mustang than drive an Amphicar” (and vice-versa) debate
Like most families, you can pretty much divide us in half along Mustang/Amphicar lines. I don’t have to tell you how ugly these shouting matches can get if you’re not careful.
7. Worm-and-roller steering vs. recirculating ball steering
My brother-in-law’s mom once had to spend the night in jail because of this one. Just steer clear. If you’re lucky, some rack-and-pinion types will be there to act as a neutral party.
I’m sure there’s more, and I hope you’ll feel free to tell us in the comments!
Just remember, if the conversation starts to migrate to Honda’s CVCC technology or how sleeve valves are under-appreciated, just voice your opinion of President Trump loudly until everyone calms down again.