Journal: Which Classic Car Is Surprisingly Practical?

Which Classic Car Is Surprisingly Practical?

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
December 18, 2015
21 comments

This is one of those articles that pops onto the editorial calendar after you’ve seen how well someone packs his Porsche 914 2.0, which then reminded me of all the times I’ve stuffed vehicles to the gills. The most extreme was probably four grown men packed for an entire 5-hour-road-trip-each-way-weekend to the Canadian Grand Prix…in a Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Convertible that I’d borrowed for a story.  

I wouldn’t call it practical, though.

What’s practical? Cars with removable furniture (seats, tables) that are usable outside of the vehicle; if you’re a smoker, the near-perfect positioning of cigarette lighters and ashtrays; the way classic cars almost always artfully stored the spare tire to save space; how some classics have an interior map light on a wire, so you’re able to reposition it around the cabin during a long-distance drive…

Practicality is in the eye of the beholder.

Arguably, vehicles like the Toyota FJ are 100% practical, except maybe for a regular morning commute. For that task, I found the 2CV surprisingly adept at the modern morning in-town rush hour—if you’re paying attention, it’s nearly as fast as a lazily-driven taxi. Pretty fast, indeed.

Which classic has surprised you with its practicality—and for what purpose?

 

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Alex HabrDaniel WillisIsaiah StanleyPM SummerChris Greta Recent comment authors
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Alex Habr

My Lancia Integrale 16v was pretty damn practical and not too bad on the fuel economy if driven sensibly.
If.

Isaiah Stanley
Isaiah Stanley

I daily drive a 1967 VW bug, and even without a radio or A/C it is such a practical vehicle. I can take my bug anywhere, albeit at a slower pace than most modern cars.

Daniel Willis
Daniel Willis

I, too, have a ’67 Bug.
The seats are super-easy to remove; they simply slide forward off their rails.
I can fit a double-bass in mine (without removing seats), and have transported all sorts of things (wheelbarrows, huge guitar amps, etc.) on the roof-rack.

I’ve reduced its practical nature though; it’s lowered, uneconomical (taken out to nearly 1800cc with two big fat double-barrelled Webers), and loud.

But gosh it’s fun.

PM Summer
PM Summer

My old BMW 2002.

Massive trunk, spacious interior (considering), easy to maintain.

Chris Greta
Chris Greta

The car is a 1971 Citroen DS and I’ve had it coming up on four years.

It’s a VERY practical car. It’s easy to keep running, has plenty of room inside and it’s easy to pull out the back seat and carry something huge in the trunk. I popped out the back seat and carried a 16 ft. roll of carpet out the back. It get’s great gas mileage and always starts right up and runs great.

And besides, it’s the most fun ever.

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers

Maverick. Does everything an Accord/Camry/Fusion sedan does but with RWD. Swap in a manual transmission and the engine of your choosing.

Stany94
Stany94

Fiat 126! Best city car ever! 🙂

Jay C
Jay C

Being me, I don`t like to conform, so I would go to the rare-ish Renault 4F (or Renault 4 Fourgonnette, to give it it`s full name). It`s big, it can carry up to 4 people, it`s suuuuper comfortable and it`s economical. I know the 1108cc “Cléon” 4-cylinder that powers it isn`t the fastest thing in the world, but driving one of these you can never be in a hurry. Just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Collin Scott
Collin Scott

The Delorean can be suprisingly practical, if it was cared for and not neglected. It gets good mileage, the manual transmission is wonderful, a single or twin-turbo system solves any horsepower problems.

Praveen Piyadasa
Praveen Piyadasa

The first Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. It’s there for me when I encounter difficult terrain, it’s there for me when I need it most, it’s incredibly durable when maintained lovingly, it’s efficient, it’s got a 470kg payload, massive space in the rear, 8-seater, everything. It has everything you need it to have, to be immensely practical. And it’s almost a true classic (1990-1996, LJ78).

Joel Friesen
Joel Friesen

I had a Volvo 122 for a few years, that was pretty practical. I took it on the Spring Thaw a couple times, and one year had the trunk space to take a floor jack, and a case of tools – I never needed it, but it was used by other people.

Jonathan Russell
Jonathan Russell

I loved my 1987 Delphin Grau E30. I could pack everything I needed in it for the trek to and from college. It had a 5 speed and the eta engine so it was fun to drive and got good mileage on the highway. And with a few sandbags in the boot it was more than up to handling winter weather – I passed countless SUVs that had gotten stuck in the median after spinning out. Freude am fahren!

Frank Endling
Frank Endling

When I tell friends that the practical aspect is something I strongly considered when I finally bought my dream car three years ago, a 1992 Porsche 928 S4 with ~140.000 miles at the time, they laughed. But they were quite impressed when I showed one could easily pack two mountain bikes and baggage for the weekend in the boot (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICpvQf8x0Dw). This car is incredibly comfortable and smooth, good looking, and reliable. I wish it had the economy of the 944 mentioned in an earlier comment!

Patrick Pullens
Patrick Pullens

I drive an ’86 Volvo 240, imported from Sweden with only 104.000 km on the odo. The first owner was 65 when he bought it and 24 years later I, as a 20 year old student, bought it as my first car. Now, 5 years later I am still surprised by how practical the car is and the quality of the ride itself. Also, the running costs of a 240 are lower than most modern cars.

Jason Melhuish
Jason Melhuish

I run a Porsche 944S2 as a daily drive. It’s amazing what you can get in the car. Also you get excellent fuel economy on long road trips and it’s not to shabby on the track.The only downside it’s a two person car, even my kids can’t get in the back now.

Max Acree
Max Acree

I always liked the underhood light that early Datsun Z-Cars were equipped with. With a 1/4 turn you could take the bulb section out and the wire would uncoil so you could inspect whatever may be wrong with the car. That is a practical touch on an otherwise less-than-practical 2 seat sports car.
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/z/ra4AAOSw1vlUwZME/$_1.JPG