Whatever happened to the mid-life crisis automobile?

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Fraiser, The Doctor is Out, Season 11, Ep. 3, 2003 (IMDb).

Well, this is awkward. The mid-life crisis automobile has gone missing.

The mid-life crisis machines of yesterday seemingly fit stylishly neat in any parking situation.

Parked here, and parked there from distressed urban centers to leaf-blown lawns of the suburbs, mid-life crisises on wheels were seemingly parked everywhere like your favorite video rental stores of the 1990’s.

These sharp jawed, curvaceous machines had something to say for themselves and the bravado of the men piloting them. They gratuitously loud-mouthed the latest pop singles and proudly became open-top runways for scandalously dressed women with voluminous, wind friendly hair.

Occasionally, misplaced children in soccer uniforms would appear every other weekend.

The Hangover, 2009 (IMDb).

On the way to work, these eager machines promiscuously blended in amongst the motorized by-products of the previous decade. They were the perfect complement to a narrow, lawyer’s briefcase and a wonderful contrast against the pale blue scrubs of the neighborhood doctor.

The occupants, fashion, and revs were all high on the blissful and humorous accomplishments of the new-age lifestyle.

These machines were quickly taken for granted, becoming notable co-stars of our favorite films and TV programs, generously exploited for our equal-part curiosity and jealously. They quickly became symbols for elitism, excess, and ignorance, bearing the burden of dysfunctional families and a spurring economy.

I Broke The Window Again Scene from the film, A Night at the Roxbury (1998). Image sourced via YouTube.

Then they disappeared.

Previously, the mid-life crisis automobile role had been fulfilled by questionable styling cues fitted to a chassis begging for attention, powered by the rushed ideals of a value-driven philosophy that efficiently seduced impulsive purchasers of equal measure.

One-by-one, they became allusive, and a little missed like your favorite Blockbuster or Hollywood Video.

If mid-life crisis males have a garage, we are having a hard-time locating the evidence. Image sourced via Chicago Car Club.

You might say that they have all passed on or grown-up.

The manual transmission is beginning to suffer the familiar fate of the four wheeled-machine symbolic of a mid-life crisis. Both subjects require lengthy debates and marketing explanations that failingly describe intangibles to excuse sensible reasoning.

Illustration depicting the subtle and thoughtful evolution of the Mazda Miata. Image sourced via Top Miata.

Perhaps the designer’s superficial ideals has finally become the reality of life.

Multinational corporations are large animals. The industrialized ego of a designer often gets blurred across time zones, corporate jargon, financial spreadsheets, and regulatory hinderances.

Today’s latest and greatest from the most renowned manufacturers still leave us scratching our heads at times. Chief designers to this day are often left in the dark on the mechanical persona that will don their eventual signature.

Previously, this type of divisive corporate environment regularly delivered a cascade of half-executed gimmicks on the heels of tall pre-delivery promises.

The victims of those failed gimmicks were those helplessly desiring an authentic dosage of accomplishment and joy.

Today, the marketplace is more congruent and less intimidating for those after an authentic experience from the online configurator to the first drive, yet there remains plenty of pitfalls for the educated offspring of mid-lifers.

This is not an STI edition Subaru, it is the Subaru BRZ tS — an average consumer product designed for your next average consumer track day. Image sourced via Subaru.

Because, Zoom-Zoom inspired a generation.

The Miata was not so welcomed into American communities at launch as it would be today. It was a sexually-charged period in American history and the Miata challenged our practicality and our sexuality. Yet the Miata’s resilience through design and voice of cheerful optimism has given us all a little Miata. The Miata created a safe-space for a docile entry level sports car to be appreciated as a sanctuary for the purity of driving.

Mazda Miata MX-5 pictured with a Subaru BRZ. Image sourced via Motor Trend.

Or maybe they are all still parked at work…

Retiring later rather than sooner is a common fact-of-life these days. What we may have previously described as the average mid-life crisis machine to be is now unabashedly our daily commuter. The higher average pricing of your average, boring vehicle will expose this average working class fact.

In the earnest to exploit the fast and dumb, major manufacturers have resorted to non-functional aesthetic design to intrigue popular interest and provide more apparent space for annual model revisions.

Many average vehicles attempt to earn attention and validate pricing within their class by promoting themselves as a luxury or sports-car enthused experience.

If there is no more room for retirement, and no more room for mid-life crisis machines within the market-place as they once were, these new Camry releases may just be what the doctored ordered for a mid-life crisis.

2019 Toyota Camry. Image sourced via Toyota.

Mid-life activities have evolved into a practice for celebrating the past and its benefit for physical connection.

Inflation is real. So is the average depreciation of wages for the average connoisseur of life. The artificial hoopla of today just does not cut it for mid-lifers nor their off-spring. Thus, even the youth has joined in on this enjoyment of retrospective pleasures, we call them Millennials.

Tall and tedious repair bills aside, there is a wonderful library of affordable classic sports-cars (and vintage Italian scooters) showcasing tasteful design pedigree. Even a sensible, understated domestique designed for a small collection of daily groceries and the occasional movie night can satisfy the deepest despairs of a mid-life crisis.

Chances are, if you are caught red-handed with a mid-life crisis these days, you likely may be driving a Japanese import to your local Sonic with an electronic cigarette in-hand or donning your preferred dad hat in your very loud colored American sportscar.

Jerry Seinfeld captured on a Lambretta Series II from 1959 in New York City during the filming of Comedians in Cars Season 11, Episode 7. Image sourced via Instagram Profile: jerryseinfeld.

Maybe the mid-life crisis has simply moved online?

Affordable one-day motoring experiences, revisable life-defining social profile biographies, and the latest SnapChat filter may just have done the trick for today’s underpaid, over-educated males that need to validate and share their relevancy.

If you are not into this paragraph, you will have to scroll-down, swipe left does not work here.

James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson, stars of Top Gear, The Grand Tour, and DriveTribe are featured with WIRED Magazine’s Last Thing On My Phone. Image sourced via WIRED.

Your next motivational machine may likely be safe from public criticism, but your motives may not be so forgiving.

Before you dash out in belief that you are safe to purchase your most prized resolution to that surging desperation, consider your life circumstances and its carefully developed habitual routines.

You may discover that you are on your way to driving your next mid-life crisis machine if…

  • your life is tedious but could easily benefit from the simplification of a two-door roadster; if you are going for minimalism, this may just be the answer.
  • your life has recently involved a family attorney or your significant other happens to now have blonde hair.
  • your primary garage is more than 500 kilometers from the nearest Italian or Japanese border. If you are reaching to calculate a conversion to miles on this point, just forget it.
  • you do not hold a valid beauty license and prefer to wait-in-line to receive a haircut by the timely order of arrival.
  • you are not presently enrolled in university courses and your idea of a hot, sweaty night at the local taco bar involves a drive-thru.
  • the last art gallery showing you attended included a mangled, fingerprint emblazoned sculpture mashed together by your step-child.
  • you have trouble identifying sports-cars of significance — and no we are not discussing the latest Corvette or that robot from Knight Rider.
David Hasselhoff sitting inside his mechanically engineered and Hollywood glossed co-star, KITT.

Desirable features of your mid-life crisis machine may indicate a deeper need.

You may realize that your newfound desires for living already mirror what you have within your life if…

  • images of roof-racks keep popping into your head.
  • the vehicle you are considering is half the size of the average vehicle found within your immediate area of residency.
  • the storage capacity cannot accommodate your golf clubs nor your broken dreams.
  • the design language of the vehicle and its general performance requires a detailed explanation to your significant other, or friends for that matter.
  • the fuel tank receives regular without complaint and the A/C blows cool and hard in all conditions.
  • maintenance is eye-openingly reasonable.
  • you begin researching the purchase a driver’s helmet but have no intentions of participating in recreational motorsport.
Image from the Edmunds review of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Image sourced via Edmunds.

The Elegant Provenance of a Crisis Machine.

The pursuit being greater than the acquisition is an easy give-away for how you have made a few left turns, ended up with a compilation of colorful brochures and are now sweating in eagerness over a contract with a teeth-textured BIC pen as its lonely companion.

You may find yourself in this situation if…

  • your city’s professional sports team threatens to leave every season.
  • there are party balloons within sight of your immediate position.
  • you are in agreement with the sales manager that the vehicle’s specialness requires 20% more coin over the manufacturer’s suggested pricing.
  • you opted for the base model, and no it was not because of the manual transmission option.
  • you made more than five compromises in selecting your dream machine and cannot wait a few months to receive one on order.
  • the biggest competition in reserving your new life included your son’s friend, whom does not bear a license nor a financial account of any kind.
  • the showroom staff has still barred entry to the vehicle’s interior as it is the only vehicle resembling a sports-car on the property.
BIC Crystal Pen. Image sourced via The Outline.

Let’s take a look at some exhibits of fine, mid-life crisis machines, better known today as future modern classics.

The questionable allure of the Mazda Miata.

The quintessential champion for the mid-life crisis in all of us. This power-studded middle finger to oversized, Western sex-powered rockets has now matured into a bonafide collector’s piece.

Restorable by order with the assistance of Mazda themselves, this little sporty life tune-up may now serve something of greater market value these days, a late-life crisis. The current Mazda reproduction of the Miata spirit carries too much cultural respect to be degrading to any one individual.

Life insurance premiums may increase on this one, so watch out.

1989 Mazda Miata MX-5 (NA) / Eunos Roadster. Image sourced via Motoring Research.

The Bavarian machined sex-appeal of a BMW Z3.

The Mazda Miata for the one higher tax bracket. This Germanic, doctor-loving growler of a roadster was a Bond machine. Enough said.

The Z3 returns to the lost era of its predecessor, the beautiful and equally iconic BMW 507. The M-refined model provides a sporty smile for any driver.

If you do not mind a roof and possess a little sense of humor, the clown-shoe shaped Z3 M Coupe provides an equally love-able alternative.

BMW Z3 Roadster. Image sourced via Wheelsage.

Your local snob, wearing the Audi TT Roadster.

This elegant, subtle design statement on wheels is slowly coming-of-age in the shadows of the automotive community. It is gorgeously refined.

This slick design brought out the art-snob in all of us in just one pretentious glance of jealousy. Maybe one for the hairdressers, the Audi TT cut through the automotive snake oil of the period with a genuine presence.

One rare baseball-glove stitched interior away from the nearest yuppy-crowded taco stand, this Germanic sculpture has given way to its matured TT, a mere footnote in the Audi catalogue. What a shame.

2001 Audi TT Roadster. Image sourced via ConceptCarz.

The burn was more like wasabi, like a Honda S2000.

Well this is merely a prelude of what became as the standard today— the accessible and affordable contemporary sports category powered by Japanese manufacturers.

The Honda S2000 was a success, seen as intelligent and practical for its reliability and Japanese motoring heritage. There was no pretending within the motorsport department either, the Honda S2000 showcased Honda’s successful motorsport heritage for a decade.

Maybe not the most idyllic setting for a date for the premium it carried, but the Honda S2000 remains a top-choice for authentic, performance-oriented pleasures to this day.

Honda S2000 AP1 Roadster. Image sourced via Wheelsage.

For the corners and that date, the Porsche Boxster.

The return-to-the-future, water-cooled 550 Spyder for the refined, post-modern man. White-tee and creased denim jeans not included.

The Boxster in the post-Magnus Porsche marketplace serves as a reasonable and sophisticated opponent to the Mazda Miata in the eyes of young sports-car enthusiasts after the most efficient smiles per gallon rating.

Like-minded, mature gentleman seek its seductive German engineering and simplistic styling to accommodate women with ease on afternoon dates and weekend getaways.

Carrera and Cayman advantages aside, the Porsche Boxster may well very be the most successful and longest running mid-life crisis automobile platform to date.

Porsche Boxster 986. Image sourced via Autoevolution.

The everyday concept car by the Pontiac Solstice.

Another enjoyable surprise, overhype, and equal let down by the general machinists at General Motors.

Let’s give credit where its due — at least General Motors are experts in triggering those three actionable consumer responses for the better part of a century. Now if only they can make that profitable for more than five years at a time.

One day, just maybe — the Pontiac Solstice could be a showcase machine in the hallowed halls of the latest European-fragrance campaign championing a likening to your daughter’s temporal heart-throb. With the reinvention of so many of our beloved mid-life crisis machines, we may be in for a treat.

If you are into clown-shoed BMW Z3 M Coupes, check out the Pontiac Solstice wagon concept. You may also come across a few other interesting Solstice-related surprises in your Google search.

Pontiac Solstice. Image sourced via Serious Wheels.

Maybe it was a Lotus or perhaps, a Toyota MR2.

Mid-engined. Check.

Built by a marque that says I have better things to do than to write checks or talk to egotistical mechanics. Check.

Often confused with European sports-cars by my fellow plebeians and the desperate housewife next door. Check.

Although looked over as another confused yet respectable wannabe in its heyday or simply confused with the likes of Lotus — the MR2 is as clever and sharp as ever when kept clean and appreciated for its engineering.

The MR2 still catches the eye and is heralded around as a minty-fresh future classic show-piece by discerning enthusiasts and equably as so by project-obssessed motorists.

Second generation Toyota MR2. Image sourced via Wikipedia.

And in honor of your first, second, and third marriages,

this article has come and gone. It may leave you feeling a little incomplete, maybe a little unsettled with the thought of new opportunities for your life, but it has to end at some point.

I wish that this piece was entertaining and thought-provoking.

Thank you.

Jimmy Kimmel Hosts the 89th Academy Awards, 2017 (IMDb).

Legal Disclaimer

This article is originally created to be featured on my Medium.com profile. The nature of this profile is a personal expression of personal interests and personal talent. This article is opinionated content that is explicitly for entertainment and general informational purposes. Any information provided within this article should be shared or utilized at your own risk. I do not hold a professional license of any kind, thus this article does not contain any professional advice. Any relatable action requiring professional advice should be discussed with a licensed professional of your choice. This article does not reflect the opinions of any organizations or personalities mentioned herein. The information presented is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors, or mistakes. As the original author of this article, I reserve the right to add, change, edit, modify, remove, or revise any material or tone within this article at any time, for any reason.

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