Do you remember your first car ride?
Do you remember your first car ride?Of course not, you were an infant who couldn’t even support your own head. But I bet your parents have told you about it”
The glint of the cherry red Camaro caught my eye, luring me in for a closer look. It was a minter, my untrained eye guessing a ’68 model, its paint, chrome splashes and gleaming glass clearly the work of an owner that cared. A lot.
But it wasn’t until I leaned in to peer through the glass that I spotted the best part. Both front seats had been folded forward and wedged onto the rear bench were two bulky baby seats. “Now that...” whispered my inner monologue, “is parenting done right.”
I eagerly waved over my wife who was standing on the footpath, showing the patience of a woman used to me stopping to ogle at cars.
“Yes, it’s very nice Alex…” she started, but I cut her off. “No, check what’s in the back seat!”
A long pause followed as she digested the scene inside the Camaro, the bulky black shapes of the baby seats asking a silent question between us.
“That’s so cool...” said the wife, “but it’s not very safe is it?” And that right there, those five words – “not very safe is it” – neatly sums up my current predicament. As I write this the wife is 26 weeks pregnant with our first child (that’s just over six months for those who haven’t been indoctrinated into, or have forgotten, the confusing and unique language of pregnancy) and for the first time in my life I’m about to buy a car that isn’t just for me.
It feels a big decision, not just financially but emotionally, too. Do you remember your first car ride? Of course you don’t, you were a blubbering, dribbling infant who couldn’t even support your own head. But I bet your parents have told you about it. That first car trip home from the hospital is seminal, especially for the person doing the driving. Never have you had cargo more precious; never have you had more to worry about. Then there’s the realisation that no matter what car I pick to buy, it’s likely to have a long-lasting influence. My ride home from the hospital was in a sky blue XB Falcon but also parked in our driveway was a white Holden ute. Dad used to take me for long drives in that car, just the two of us, and when we’d arrive home mum and the family dog would join us in the tray for a ute party with snacks. It was brilliant. No wonder the first thing I bought when I’d saved enough money was my own Holden ute, in white.
Naturally, then, I want my first family car to be suitably cool. I’ve been putting money aside to buy an old car for years – ideally a cheap 911 or E46 3 Series – and for a while I clung to the idea that I’d just do the same thing as that Camaro owner. “But it’s not very safe is it?” Fear and guilt are strong factors for new parents so begrudgingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, it probably isn’t. The bigger issue is that determining exactly what is safe and what isn’t, is quite tricky.
The world of ANCAP star ratings can be confusing, especially for cars that are a few years old, but happily, our Wheels investigation on addresses exactly that along with many other pressing safety concerns. So the search for our new family wheels continues and I’m open to all suggestions. Something unique and interesting is the goal; hit me up online or on our letters page. I’m also keen to hear what car you were driven home from the hospital in.
Speaking of becoming a father, one thing I am looking forward to is Father’s Day and on that front, I have good news. Our biggest ever subscriber offer is back, meaning you can currently save 50 percent off the usual price for Wheels, MOTOR, 4X4 Australia, Street Machine and Unique Cars. So if you haven’t lined up a present for your old man yet, we have your back. Just like he did when he drove you home from the hospital...