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Daddy Needs New Wheels

As some of you know, I’ve been thinking for some time about buying a new car, and being a father has changed the way I think about transportation. When I was born my father traded in his sexy two seat convertible for a wood-paneled Ford station-wagon. So what choices are available to the modern dad?

The kind of vintage station wagon my dad switched to after having us kids

Yes, my dad was one of the original Mad Men!

Let’s look at the extremes. Cars like the following Lamborghini Diablo that get a whopping 8 miles per gallon (down hill with a tail wind) are not very high on my list. Even if they got 100 miles per gallon, I’m afraid its physical length and hefty price tag clearly shout, “I’m overcompensating for something!”

Of course going to the other extreme, while avoiding the whole inverse-proportion overcompensation concern, may not strike quite the right chord either. I’m all for being green, but I fear the car below screams something like, “Hi, I’m Mr. Bean!” So, what’s a tree-hugging metrosexual dad on a budget to do?

I may have found the solution. Ever since a buddy recently admitted his secret lust for a retro Vespa, they’ve been popping into my head. At 60 miles or more per gallon, they appeal to my ecologically conservative side, and also to some nostalgic longing for the imagined romance and simplicity of the 60’s.

I grew up in Europe, so I saw people riding these everywhere as a kid. That leads me to a few questions. What do you think, can a real man ride a motor scooter? I could put our daughter in a sidecar with a helmet and it would be almost as safe as a car, right?  Okay… okay… a hybrid mini-van it is.  Sigh…

So, what do you recommend?

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  1. Robin

    My hubby loves his 2000 Kia Sportage but, the new models are p-i-m-p!

    1. Michael Schmid

      LOL. Yeah the sportage is nice. Kia is making some pretty cool cars. In 2000 I’d barely heard of them, though. I keep seeing Kia Souls driving to and from work. I may not be fly enough to drive one of them, though. Thanks for dropping by, Robin. Have a good night.

  2. CM

    Too funny, my dad traded in his convertible when I was born too! Small world.

    Following from Blog Frog. Nice to meet a DADDY blogger, way cool!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hey, it’s good to see you again. I think I visited your blog last week? Sorry about “sprout” inheriting your eyes. Glasses for a little boy are a pain, but plenty of kids need them. As for the subject of this blog… dads trading in sports cars for family cars is a time-honored tradition. LOL. Have a great weekend!

  3. Kurt

    Dude….you know how I feel about the Vespas. It’s really a no brainer. I vote Vespa. In fact, you should see if you’re blog can get Vespa sponsorship.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Kurt, you know all too well that you are the friend I was talking about in the blog that got me thinking about a Vespa. Of course my wife would never allow it for safety reasons. I’ll know I’m in trouble with her if she starts to suggest I get one. 😉 You guys have a great weekend!

  4. Heather

    my husband traded in his mustang for an extend cap pick up – I think thats about as kid friendly that he is going to get! Following & FB “LIKE” from MomLoop FF! Have a great weekend!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks so much for dropping by from Mom Loop. Trading in a Mustang for an extended cab pickup qualifies, I think. Hey, we guys have to stick together. Love your online magazine. I recognize a few of your contributors. You have a great weekend, too!

  5. Nicole

    We have a Dodge Caravan Stow and Go. I love it!! Most the time we have the 2nd middle seat stowed away so we have more room for groceries. It’s great! Plus you can store travel toys in the cargo spaces when the seats are up!
    Hope you have a great day and weekend!! =)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Nicole. Appreciate the tip on the Caravan. I’ll really be buying the new car for my wife and I’ll drive her Subaru. I think she’d like something larger like that. She’d enjoy the extra space for groceries and such, and also for family road-trips. How’s the gas mileage? Have a wonderful weekend!

      1. Nicole

        I’ll have to get back to you on the gas mileage. lol It’s pretty good though. It’s actually my husbands company van but he pays so much out of his check and we can use it for personal use.

        I love it though because it is so big! There is a bench seat in the very back, I can’t remember if that folds down too but I am thinking it does, then the two separate buckets in the next row. Like I said you can fold them both down or keep 1 up 1 down and when its not down you can store blankets for the winter in it or toys. LOVE IT!

        He usually gets a new one every few years or so many miles and sometimes they offer it to you at a cheaper rate, which is great! Work takes care of the maintenance on it and my husband usually makes sure to take it in on time for maintenance. I am hoping we will buy it when it’s time for the new one!

        Here’s a link.
        Dodge Caravan Stow & Go
        How cool is that? The newer ones the chairs can sit backwards and there’s a table!!! Cool!! Our’s is only a year or so old so this must be a new thing…

        1. Michael Schmid

          Wow… that really is pretty cool. My wife would totally dig the revolving chairs and that table. The loaded model starts at $30K so it’s good your hubby’s work helps with that. Thanks so much for all the info. We’ll def check it out.

          1. Nicole

            WOW! Yeah I didn’t look at the price, sorry.. lol

            I asked him about the mileage and he said that he doesn’t really keep track but thinks its about 25 mpg so….

            Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

          2. Michael Schmid

            That’s not too bad (the mileage) for a vehicle that size. That said I’d love to do better. I fear gas prices will be climbing sooner or later. It really is a cool car, so we’ll def check it out. Perhaps the less pricey models will still have the features we’d want.

          3. Nicole

            Yeah I know. Gas prices are ridiculous!

            Ours is a lower end model and I still love all the features it has.
            Well it only has the stow and go but that makes a huge difference!

  6. Kelli

    I love my Hyundai Santa Fe for my family of 4… it drives like a car, but it fits a ton of stuff when we go anywhere for a weekend or a week. Gas mileage is great for an SUV too!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Something like a Hyundai Santa Fe is probably a good choice. As I noted in another comment, the car really will be for my wife. She’d enjoy the extra space for hauling stuff and also for family road-trips. Cool that it has decent mileage. Thanks for the tip. Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. laughwithusblog

    I lost all sense of cool and went for the high top conversion van! 🙂 Stopping from Mom Loop.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks for stopping by, Esther. A conversion van, really? Wow. I fear a van may be in our future… and our garage soon. LOL. Have a great evening.

  8. L. Eleana

    You’ve got me laughing over here, especially about the Mr. Bean one. I think you can get away with the Vespa. Not with the baby in it, lol! Please Please Please I’m begging you not to get a minivan. I know they’re really cost efficient, but they are screaming the word “soccer mom” all over them. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m so fighting the urge to buy a minivan.

    1. Michael Schmid

      LOL. So I can’t buy a mini-van because YOU are fighting the urge? Hmmm. I think I can totally pull off the soccer-mom look. Plus our two year old is showing some pretty good skills with a ball already. I’m hoping for a college scholarship. Actually I played soccer in college, but certainly wasn’t good enough for a scholarship. Fun fact: that Mr. Bean car I posted in the blog was actually made by Vespa, believe it or not. Have a great weekend!

  9. Frank

    Minivan…it’s the vehicle for real men…what’s more manly than pulling up in a van full off your offspring?

    1. Michael Schmid

      Good point, Frank. Mini-van’s are not just for soccer-moms any more. Sort of like Guinness isn’t just for breakfast any more. As for this commercial… my wife loves it. She posted it on her blog a while back. Have a great weekend!

  10. http://www.davidmcgrieveyillustration.com/

    Vespas are big here in NYC because they are cool and practical, they always remind me of Rome. You will however be arrested if you put your baby on one.
    What about a Mini Cooper? These cars were made cool in the film The Italian Job, in fact the cars are the stars of the film, one of the best car chase scenes since The French Connection.
    If you get one , send me your thoughts as I am toying with the idea of buying one
    David, NYC

    1. Michael Schmid

      Funny you should say that about the mini cooper, David. My wife will tell you I’ve been thinking about one for several years now. I grew up on Europe and so saw the original minis… adorable little death-traps that they were.

      The new ones are really great, though. I saw one in the Wholefoods parking lot the other day with two kids seats in back, so it is possible, though not very practical. Plus at two years of age our toddler was already three feet tall, so I’m not sure how fast she’d outgrow that back seat.

      Both the Vespa and the Mini seem to fit pretty well with your “style”. I need to get a “style”. Right now mine is probably closer to soccer-mom. Have a great weekend!

      p.s. Now don’t leave out Bullitt when you mention car chases. Sure it was on that OTHER coast, but it’s still a classic.

  11. Lori

    I loved driving my stick shift Honda Civic EX with sun roof until my 3rd child was born. Then it just wasn’t safe to have 2 car seats and a booster seat in the back, so we got a minivan and still have it. I love that I can carry 7, so when my children want to bring friends along it’s not a problem. BUT the sports car looks awesome and the scooter looks fun and probably good for the budget. Have fun car shopping.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Lori. My last car was a BMW with a stick, and it was fun. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a Mini Cooper (stick of course), but I’ll probably have to go the soccer mom route and get the mini-van. Concerning your current blog, what did you think of Waiting for Superman? 6pm Central Time won’t work for live participation in tonight’s interactive forum unfortunately. I’ll be feeding the wee one then… though maybe I could have it on. Hmmm. Thanks for letting me know. Have a great weekend!

  12. Wahneta

    I LOVE my Ford Escape Hybrid!
    Roomy, great mileage and when combined with the Vespa….
    Give one a test drive, made my husband re-think my choice (he was “it will be your ride, just don’t ask me to drive it”) now he enjoys it when his F-150 is not practical.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Wahneta. Great to hear from someone from my old stomping grounds in New York. I’ll definitely check out the hybrid Escape. It would be nice to buy American, and good mileage is certainly a plus. If your hubby drives a big truck, but likes your SUV, too, that’s a good sign in it’s favor. My wife will likely be the primary driver of what we buy and I do like that it sits slightly higher. Did you get one of the bright yellow ones? Have a great weekend.

      1. Wahneta

        No, deep blue, but a friend in NY got one of the first yellow ones…we all call it the ‘Tweety Mobile’ .

        1. Michael Schmid

          The Tweety Mobile… good name. Every time I see one of those bright yellow VW bugs it looks like a big smiley face to me. I guess they are probably good colors for visibility? And my wife might like the cheery colorfulness of it.

          1. Wahneta

            And you would see her coming for miles, but it would become orange after one of your local red dust storms. };-P
            Have a great weekend and enjoy the dad bits…it goes faster than you think.

          2. Michael Schmid

            Yes, every so often West Texas does blow in coating everything in red clay. LOL. Not too often fortunately. Thanks for the reminder to pay attention to all the moments. They do come and go fast. I love being a dad. I started kinda late, but I had to wait for the right woman. Have a good night and a wonderful weekend, Wahneta!

  13. Nikki

    I love the Mr. Bean car! lol. thats a great one! I think you could go for the motorbike vespa with a sidecar for Molly and Shan:)

    Martin has a motorcycle and we rode once together on it, but just haven’t had the moment to do it again. Its fun though! Just have to wear a helmet!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Vespas are pretty cool in a metrosexual kinda way. Though with all the big trucks down here in Texas, even with a helmet they’d be a risky ride. Good gas mileage though. As for the Mr Bean car above, it was actually made by Vespa. Probably has the same engine, too. You, Martin and Lealu have a great weekend!

  14. Chaplain Donna

    Hi! This is my first time stopping by your site and I like what I see. Daddy bloggers are few, but when they are good, they have it made! I can’t wait to see what car you decide to buy.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi. That’s weird, I responded to your comment, but it seems to have gotten lost. You said, “Daddy bloggers are few, but when they are good, they have it made!” I’m going to interpret that as a complement. 😉 I left a comment on your blog concerning self-confidence, and so thought I’d best exhibit some here. Have a great weekend!

  15. veronica lee

    Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog.
    Have a nice day!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks for dropping by from so far away. Have a lovely Sunday.

  16. jill conyers

    My husband is shopping for a new car and your post reminds me of some of the conversations we’ve had. We’re not a big fan of car shopping but have found this time to be humorous.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Jill! Great to see you again. Car shopping itself is no fun, you’re right. I try add a little fun and whimsy anyway. On an unrelated note, so cool you are doing P90X. I fear I need to start a bit more slowly than that. P90X would probably kill me from what I’ve seen of it. But in the long run that is a good goal for me to work toward. I gained some weight (my sympathy baby bump) when my wife was pregnant two years ago, and am still working that off. 😉 Have a great weekend!

  17. Melody

    hahahaha, “Mr. BE-EAn”
    Also, I absolutely Love the Swagor Wagon comercials! Died laughing.
    Found you through the Mom-Deal
    http://www.mytwistedstitches.blogspot.com

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Mel. Thank you so much for dropping by my humble daddy blog. My wife also loves that Swagger Wagon commercial. I think it’s hit a chord with many of us parents who lament our inevitable decline in cool. 😉

  18. Daniel Costello

    I think you are being very closed minded! There is nothing cooler than a bike with a sidecar. Most sidecars are big enough for child seats! What screams awesome more than this!

    I’m JUST KIDDING SHAN! Well, for the most part. On a more serious note, you don’t have to go minivan to be responsible. I’ve been buying Subaru’s for years, and have never once been let down. They are amazing cars, very safe, durable and sport a large capacity not only for your most precious cargo, but also wood from home depot. Check out the Legacy wagon. I’m excited to see what you get!

    1. Daniel Costello

      Wow, my image link totally failed. This is what I was shooting for.

      http://www.dmcsidecars.com/Sidecars/images/BMW_1200GS_with_M72D.JPG

      1. Michael Schmid

        I must admit, that’s pretty cool. A BMW no less. I’m sure Shan will have no problem with me putting our wee one in that side car. One of our current vehicles, the one Shan drives, is a Subaru. I’m very pleased with it. We’re going to keep it, and I’ll probably start driving it and get the new vehicle for Shannon. The Vespa (though now I’m thinking BMW) is just a day-dream for the fun of it. Have a great weekend, Daniel. Thanks for dropping in from the big city.

        p.s. I fixed the image link so it’d display now in your original post.

        1. Daniel Costello

          So you did! Thanks! It is a sweet bike. I would like to have it. Tommy would love riding around in it. His mother would put a hit out on me though.

          1. Michael Schmid

            Yep, same here. She’d probably carry out the hit personally. 😉

  19. Erin

    My husband and I dealt with the car issue recently. He just couldn’t do the minivan, and I don’t blame him..a lot of me/parents don’t want to give in to that. We got a Suburban (his choice) It’s huge and not my favorite thing to drive around, but it has a lot of space and is still somewhat “manly”.

    Great blog by the way ! I stumbled upon it somehow and I’m glad I did !!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I can see the appeal of the big truck based SUV, though I’m not even sure that would fit in our garage. It’s huge. We only have the one toddler, so other than carting around a bunch of her friends probably don’t need that kind of size. And I’d worry about gas prices going back up. Off subject, I dropped by your blog and noticed you were watching “Sister Wives”. I watched the first episode, but fear these sorts of shows must be a girl thing. I personally can’t imagine trying to keep three (or will it be four soon) wives happy… it’s enough of a challenge for most guys to keep one happy. Have a great weekend.

  20. veronica lee

    Hi! I’m a new follower of your awesome blog.

    Have a nice day!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Veronica. I follow your blog as well. Was that Thai dish you posted recently as hot as it looked? Looked yummy, though. Have a great week.

  21. Yakut

    My husband Joe had to trade in his beloved Corvette last week for a VW Toureage, as we have a 16-month old ourselves. Our aim was to get a 4-door GTI and don’t ask me how we went from that to a Toureage! Gas mileage is a worry, of course, but it is a good drive. We got a 2010 and 2011 comes with new design.

    Sending love and kisses to both your girls!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yakut, how very nice to hear from you! So your hubby traded in his Vette for a Touareg? Now that’s love! At least that’s an awfully nice car to trade in to. I haven’t driven a Touareg, but wouldn’t say no if someone wanted to give me one. Our love back to you all, too!

  22. rose molloy

    sorry late seeing your post. i would suggest a mini van . i like the KIA., plenty of room and if I can recall wasn’t bad. good luck with this. rosie

    1. Michael Schmid

      I will definitely see what KIA has to offer. You’re not the only one to mention them, and I’ve started noticing some nice looking ones on the road down here. Thanks so much dropping by. I never get to visit all the blogs I want, so definitely don’t apologize. Have a great evening!

  23. Summer

    Just started following your blog!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you so much, Summer. Loved the description of your perfect moment in your most recent blog. Oh, and have a great time this weekend. Sounds action packed. We’re up in Dallas, so may pass you on the road. Have a good one!

  24. John

    Um ya pass on the Vespa, just because it’s a Vespa. You don’t have to jump right to mini van either there are options available. I suggest you look until you find something that fits all your needs and at least some of your wants

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yeah, I’m pretty much kidding about the Vespa, John. I’ve seen guys riding them, and basically unless your leaning on a parked one on the Piazza Navona with a lovely girl on your arm, there is no way to make it look sexy. And after all isn’t that one of most guys’ decision points? I’ll be looking at safety and fuel economy as top factors, myself.

  25. Dana K

    I’m still going to push the toyota hybrid highlander. I love love love mine. MUCH bigger than the Ford Escape hybrid but gets almost the same mpg. In fact, it was the space inside that made me choose it over the Escape.

    Good luck!

    1. Michael Schmid

      As much as I’d love to buy American (or at least made here) a larger hybrid SUV does make some sense if it gets similar mileage. Thanks so much for your input, Dana!

  26. Tricia

    When we found out we were having multiples, my hubby convinced me it was time to let my 13 year old Honda Accord out to pasture. But I put my foot down. I was NOT going to get a minivan.

    We finally settled on the Honda Pilot. It’s deceptively large – and has a third row for when the twins need to be separated due to their trying to kill each other or conspire against their parents.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Interesting, Tricia. I would also have thought the Pilot was not as large as you describe. We’ll definitely need to add it to our list of test drives. The new car is really for my wife (and daughter… we just have one right now). How is the viability to the rear? I find so many new car designs really sacrifice that? I like your strategy for separating the twins. My brother and I were forever squabbling in the back of our station wagon (yes, my family had one when I was little). 🙂

  27. ChevyTexan

    Hey Michael! Have you checked out the Chevy Traverse at all? It’s sporty, dependable, gets great gas mileage and still keeps you looking like a dad and not a soccer mom. We’ve got a blog post with more info, here:

    http://drivingtheheartland.com/move-over-minivans-crossovers-let-dads-ride-in-style/

    Always enjoy reading the site – email us if you have any questions!

    1. Michael Schmid

      The Traverse is a lovely car and certainly has lots of storage if you fold down that small third row of seats. My wife loves the OnStar, which I think most of your cars have as an option. Frankly it may be a bit too big for our needs, and that rear viability (if you don’t opt for the camera) seems like it’d be a bit rough, but that’s the compromise one must make for the length and stylishly sloping back in (and thus small rear window). Really appreciate the tip. Chevy is without a doubt very high on our list.

  28. Sean Leacy (@GeekAthair)

    We’ve love our ’09 Camry Hybrid! I’m averaging around 35MPG and 500 miles to the tank. It’s super comfortable and feels like I’m driving a “real” car, a feeling I didn’t get when test driving the Prius or some of the all-electric cars.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hey, Sean. You and I have talked (tweeted?) about this on Twitter before. Does the Camry Hybrid feel big? I went from a Jeep Grand Cherokee to a smaller Subaru years ago now. I love it, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth so my eye is roaming. We just have one child (for now at least) so I wonder if a Camry is more car than we need? You say you like it’s “real” car feel. Would a Prius be a better choice if going smaller? [Okay, now feel I must look for a tree to hug]

      1. Sean

        I just saw you post this again and realized I never responded to you.

        No, it doesn’t feel “big”. It feels REALLY comfortable (especially with leather interior) and is a very quiet ride. We can fit 3 car seats in the bench seat (with our brand of car seats) and get an average of 32-37MPG depending on the week (on a road trip I’m usually pushing 40MPG and on bad traffic days I’m right around 30). The thing I hadn’t really thought about until I sat down with a friend who works at a dealership is that a lot of the safety ratings are showing it against it’s class/other like cars and where the Prius and others are against each-other the Camry Hybrid is against other “normal” sedan’s. It’s VERY safe to drive and has been incredible as a daily driver.

        If you want better gas mileage and something a bit smaller the Prius would likely be a better choice. It can get about 10MPG more than the Camry but at the loss of comfort and space.

        1. Michael Schmid

          Thanks, Sean! Yeah, the Camry has always had a reputation for comfort and reliability. Newer models (as with competing brands) have more attractive lines. Yes, I can be turned by a pretty face. But of course, it’s what’s inside that matter, and you raise a good point concerning safety. That very important to me. We did get my wife a new car fairly recently, but I’m still driving my Subaru. While I’d enjoy a new car with all the latest bells and whistles, it’s pretty hard to justify when I have a perfectly good, albeit 10-year-old, car.

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