What’s the matter with a basic car?

-Fred Stock



          Say, folks, what’s the matter with having a BASIC car? Now please hear me out. This car would have about one-hundred horsepower. That’s enough to go zero to sixty in under five minutes – which is all we grown ups need anyway. It could get about 62 miles to the gallon and run on ethanol or gasoline or kerosene or rubbing alcohol or scotch – bloody near anything.

          What’s the matter with a car that I can drive to the store, maybe the wife and I can go together. We don’t have fifteen kids anymore and we don’t need a built-in child safety seat. Basic simple seat belts will do fine. We also don’t need a GPS integrated navigation system to go to Albertson’s or the post office. It could have a very small air conditioner if needed and an old fashioned radiator water heater. Maybe in most areas a simple fan would be enough without the A/C. It would not need a cigar lighter or ashtrays or a television or video game hub or cellular telephone or 4000 watt stereo. A small low power radio would be nice. It would not need power steering or power brakes – it would be light enough that manually controlled systems would work fine. The engine would be small and clean enough you wouldn’t need a 600-pound smog pump either.

          Seats? Of course. Two of them. One for my spouse and one for me. I’ll bet that 90% of the trips to the store are alone or with the spouse and no-one else. Why would you need a 6700 pound SUV for that? The trunk would be a simple rectangular cargo area big enough for some groceries or the kids Christmas presents when we go over there, but not large enough to house a small immigrant family.

          What’s the matter with NO sun roof, NO electric windows, NO electric locks, NO electric trunk lid pull down, NO electric trunk release either. Why do I need those? What’s the matter with a simple well built sturdy body that makes sense. You should not have to pay the equivalent of the proceeds from a major bank robbery when you dent a fender. NO electric seats needed. I am still strong enough to release the catch under the seat with my hand. How about an engine located in a roomy enough well designed front compartment. I’d like to be able to pop the bonnet and see a carburetor I can actually fix if it breaks, or be able to change spark plugs without a hydraulic lift and twenty-three years education at mechanic’s school.

          The windows do not need to be round, curved, or created by a Hollywood fantasy set designer. They don’t have to be worth seven month’s wages if the truck up there kicks up a stone, either! They could be sturdy, flat and angled for strength and reduced glare. They could be made of available man-made safety plastics or glass – some of it is capable of resisting bullets so it might be strong enough to be my windscreen. They do not need to be “gorgeous” as I heard one outrageous windshield described a few years ago. It’s meant to keep RAIN out, for Pete’s sake!

          What’s the matter with a car that can’t do doughnuts and skid in clouds of dust into your TV screen on the commercials. Why would I need a car that can screech tires and “burn rubber” as I return “On Golden Pond” to Blockbuster?

          What’s the matter with a car offered in four or five basic colors, that I can match exactly if I bend something. That would be without a $750.00 bill from Earl Schibe for matching to the original color. And how about flat – maybe even wooden bumpers that can actually be used to push or be pushed? How about tires and wheels that are plain, simple, clean and sturdy – oh, and INEXPENSIVE too?!  How about a pair of sockets big enough to hold a bottle of water, without a hydraulically actuated electrically initiated mechanism to hide it when not in use – heaven forbid somebody finds out I have a cup holder in there!

          What’s the matter with a flat dash board and center console that can actually hold the stuff that always goes up there and always slips off under the seats or who-knows-where? And how about hauling my big upright bass to the family reunion jam fest? The roof could be flat with a couple of catches for the ropes. It will not need a special junk compartment, roof rack or ridges. After all this car only has 100 horsepower. It won’t have a “deluxe towing package” either. It will not be used to tow a cabin cruiser, an earth mover or a railroad box-car. If I want to pull a horse trailer, it won’t be with my little car.

          What’s the matter with a car that doesn’t guzzle, muscle, slide, smoke tires or rumble exhaust pipes? It can’t race, rage or annoy folks with the rapp music at 3:00 A.M.. It can’t outrun most high performance golf carts, but when I head for Target, it doesn’t need to do that. Watch the evening news commercials and tell me what the heck we have signed on to here?  

Sooo, here’s the bottom line; if you guys will make a practical, economical basic car, I will buy it. I’ll wager there are a few others out there who might as well. Let’s call it a “Senior-mobile”… something like that. Here it is:


Gentlemen: what’s the matter with a basic car? My requests for your consideration for a “Senior-mobile”. Not for sale to upwardly mobile “yuppies”:


Ø       One hundred horsepower – must go 0 to 60 in under 5 minutes. I’m old!

Ø       62 miles per gallon or better, running on gas, ethanol, scotch, anything.

Ø       2 passenger seats for the driver and spouse. Safe seat belts. No kid restraints or complex devices for one-year-olds. We’re aged 60’s & 70’s.

Ø       Not offered: GPS, Navigation Screens, 2000 Watt audio systems. Have little use for these between home and the grocery store or first tee.

Ø       No need for cigar lighters or ashtrays either. We all gave that up 45 years ago. A place to plug the cell phone in might be nice.

Ø       Air conditioning optional – a fan is good. Small water-based heater a plus.

Ø       This would be a sedan – you don’t need a 6700-pound SUV to go to Bingo. With this car, you would not need to win Bingo in order to buy the gas to get back home either.

Ø       The “trunk” should be roomy enough to hold a couple of birthday presents for grandbabies, but not large enough to house a small immigrant family.

Ø       More NOT necessary items: electric sun roof, electric windows, electric locks, electric trunk lid pull down motor, electric seats (I am still strong enough to pull the catch and wiggle the seat forward or back), power-lumbar mechanisms, self adjusting steering wheel tilt, rotating annoying blue headlights, lake pipes, outside mirror turn-lights, electric trunk lid release. Do I need those, going to Wal-Mart?

Ø       Also don’t need “magnificently sculptured body lines.” I do not need to spend five month’s Social Security checks to repair a dented finder.

Ø       An engine compartment that is roomy enough that I can change my own spark plugs without a hydraulic engine lift.  And a carburetor I can fix if it breaks.

Ø       Windshield that is flat and made of strong plastic like police safety screens.  “Gorgeous curves, inspired style” I do not need, at $950.00 a stone knick! For Pete’s sake, it is meant to keep the rain out!

Ø       My Senior-mobile cannot do doughnuts in intersections with screeching tires and smoke. I rarely “burn rubber” as we return from “On Golden Pond”.

Ø       There might be a cup holder for each of us, but it won’t retract pneumatically when we are finished using it. Heaven forbid anybody should find out we have a cup holder in there! Just wouldn’t do.

Ø       The dash would be able to hold all the stuff I toss up there (and usually watch slip off under the seat somewhere when I pull away). The roof will be flat with gentle reinforcements to hold my electric bass when we go to the family reunion. But the car will not be able to tow a cabin cruiser or 8-horse trailer. If I want to pull a tractor trailer or boxcar, I’ll borrow my offspring’s guzzler or rent something! 

Ø       It will have sturdy, over-rated tires, low price and low “attractive factor” too.


Car companies, please don’t skid, smoke, dust-cloud any more ridiculous gigantic guzzle-mobiles at me on my TV screen. Here’s my pledge: you make a reasonable car as I have described, and I’ll probably buy one or two, and pitch them to all my friend (only have one).

–Fred Stock