MANzine » Cars Lifestyle magazine for men by men. Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:33:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 1959 Chevy Bel Air vs. 2009 Chevy Malibu Fri, 18 Sep 2009 13:34:00 +0000 James Joyner

The 1959 Chevy Bel Air, while not quite the iconic classic of its 1955-1957 forebears, is nonetheless a large, muscular vehicle from the Golden Age of the American automobile. The 2009 Chevy Malibu, by contrast, is a wimpy, nondescript midsize sedan that provides basic transportation but not much more. Which would you rather crash in? Right you are: As Robert Farago summarizes:
This is a sick way for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to “celebrate” its 50th anniversary, but we do love us some crash test video. Apparently, “the driver of the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air would have been killed instantly while the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu’s driver would walk away with a minor knee injury.”
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Can a Real Man Drive a Minivan? Mon, 24 Aug 2009 15:06:19 +0000 James Joyner


Well he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.

Those classic words, penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard months before I was born, are at least as true today. Despite what the advertisements may tell you, manhood has little to do with what kind of cigarettes you smoke, what car you drive, or how white your shirts could be.

The post’s title started as a placeholder; a prototype of the sort of posts we would write at MANzine.  But there seems to be serious question on this issue.

I happen to drive a Nissan 350Z Roadster, a two-seater, convertible sports car.  It’s easily the coolest, most fun car I’ve ever owned. Unless it’s raining, under 30 degrees, or above 100 degrees, I’ve got the top down.

A few weeks back, we learned that the practicalities of road trips with our infant daughter made it worthwhile to trade my wife’s small SUV for a minivan much like the one pictured atop this page.   I occasionally drive it.  While it’s neither as cool nor as much fun as the Z, my manhood doesn’t mysteriously vanish when I’m behind the wheel.

Sadly, manhood can’t be purchased for a few thousand dollars.

I get why men fear the minivan.  It is a pretty tangible symbol of giving up our youthful ideal in exchange for domestic life.   If we drive a sports car or motorcycle or pickup truck — or even an SUV — we can at least pretend the we haven’t changed.  But get a minivan, and it’s over.  You’re a daddy now.

This classic Peyton Manning commercial on the subject is pretty funny:

Because I married and became a dad later in life and I’m thus more financially secure than I would have been if I’d done those things in my 20s — and because our child care situation allows for it — I’ve managed to keep my sports car and drive the minivan only occasionally.  We’ll probably get a third car before I give it up entirely.

But who knows?  We’ve just got one child now, a 7-month-old.   The time may well come where I’ll be picking up a car pool and shuttling my kid off to soccer practice, making a two-seater silly rather than merely a luxury.  If so, I’ll do what tens of thousands of men before me have done and get a mini-van.

It could be worse.  Once upon a time, men had to make much bigger sacrifices.  Whether it was a long cattle drive or fighting off Indians, men often put their lives in danger to take care of their families.   Now, we’re called upon to set aside our egos and drive a less cool vehicle.


  • Vanessa reminds us that women hate the idea of driving minivans, too.
  • Chaz Hill contends that, “A Real Man drives whatever he goddamn well pleases, be it an old Jaguar or a New Beetle.”
  • Matthew @ Billy Ockham argues “[M]asculinity has nothing to do with possessions. Manliness has to do with responsibility first and foremost.”
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What is an American Car, Anyway? Thu, 06 Aug 2009 20:00:21 +0000 James Joyner


Recent news events have renewed a question that’s nagged me for years, What is an American car, anyway?

GM is selling Hummer, the instant classic vehicle based on the U.S. Army’s Jeep replacement, to a Chinese firm.  Assuming the deal goes through, will we think of Hummer as a Chinese car?

Chrysler, the “American” company that was recently owned by Germany’s Daimler is now co-owned by Italy’s Fiat and the  Canadian and U.S. Governments.  Even when its ownership was American, some of its major assembly plants were across the border in Canada.  And many of its key parts were made overseas in Japan and elsewhere.   Do those count as American cars?

The U.S. Government is bailing out GM and Chrysler in order to help save the jobs of American auto workers.  Yet tens of thousands of Americans are gainfully employed making cars right here in the U. S. of A. for companies with names like Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.   Some of the cars they make are sold only in America.  Are those Japanese or German cars?  Or are they American?

Despite the fact that my government now owns two car companies that make cars that haven’t captured our imagination (although I’d take a Corvette if it wasn’t  ridiculously overpriced) our streak of buying cars made outside of Motown continues.  We recently replaced the wife’s Acura SUV (made in Maryville, Ohio) with another American-made vehicle, a Toyota Sienna minivan manufactured in the American heartland (Princeton, Indiana). The last two American badge cars I purchased, both Fords, were manufactured in Claycomo, Missouri.

Indeed, my wife, my parents, my mother-in-law, and myself own five vehicles between us:  Three Nissans and two Toyotas.  Of the five, only mine (a Nissan 350Z roadster) was made outside the United States.  None was made in Detroit or the state of Michigan.

The law (the American Automobile Labeling Act of 1992) provides a rather arcane formula whereby manufacturers are required to label the “domestic content” of their cars based on where the parts were manufactured and assembled.  Canada counts as “America” for this exercise, although Mexico does not.

Kelsey Mays at lists the top “American” cars for 2008-2009:

  • Ford F-150: 80% domestic content, down from 90% for ’07
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 85% for ’08, down from 90% for ’07
  • Toyota Camry/Solara: 68% for ’08, down from 78% for ’07
  • Honda Accord: 60% for ’08, down from 65% for ’07
  • Toyota Corolla: 50% for ’09, down from 65% for ’08
  • Toyota Matrix: 65% for ’09, down from 75% for ’08
  • Dodge Ram: 68% for ’08, down from 72% for ’07
  • Honda Pilot: 70% for ’09, same as ’08
  • Honda Civic: 70% for ’08, up from 55% for ’07

That’s a rather amusing list, since only three of those vehicles — the Ford, Chevy, and Dodge full size pickup trucks — naturally come to mind as “American.”  And they’re not cars! But the truth of the matter is that they’re all much more “American” than most of the U.S. nameplate vehicles whose parts are primarily manufactured in low-wage foreign countries and “assembled” domestically.

What’s more, it turns out that, while people say they care whether they’re “Buying American” or not, their buying behavior says otherwise.  Most of us just want a good car at a good value.

And what could be more American than that?


BONUS: P.J. O’Rourke

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