Why can't we all be less judgmental on the road?

Photography Credit: Tim Suddard

You name it and I have likely driven it: Ford Model A, Edsel wagon, Manx dune buggy, and all the ’50s and ’60s favorites. I’ve found that each cool car seems to elicit its own reactions.

Drive a Model A Ford Coupe or, in our case, carry it on an open trailer from Massachusetts to Florida, and you get in plenty of conversations with old guys–and I mean really old guys. You hear stories about first cars and first loves. Some recall how a Model A could carry 12–no, make that 14–passengers. 

Fuel stops with an Edsel wagon can easily take an hour, especially with an old wooden Penn Yan boat on top and our 1961 Shasta travel trailer hooked up. We’ve had strangers yell their approval from the side of the road.

A ’60s roadster–British, Alfa, whatever–seems to universally get thumbs-up and respect. People approach at the gas station and want to learn more. They seem to think you’re kind of quirky and cool, and nobody gives you any attitude.

Drive a modified ’80s BMW or VW Rabbit GTI, and those in later imports seem to take notice–lots of approval from younger enthusiasts in Civics and Subarus. Older guys barely notice, however.

A new BMW M4–not mine but a press loaner–tends to generate less than welcoming responses: scowls, aggressive driving, some taunts to race. 

Most recently, I’ve been driving (and loving) the 2007 Guards Red Porsche 911 that we just bought to play around with. Suddenly, though, I’m the stereotype. It doesn’t matter that the Porsche cost me less than half the price of the Lexus SUVs and Ford pickups tailgating me. It seems like there are two kinds of people: Those who know how cool a Porsche is and those who approach them with scorn. 

When I got the car, I knew what I was getting into. I mean, come on, it’s a bright-red 911.

If I’m being honest, I can drive aggressively in my Honda Ridgeline and no one notices. (The fact that I’m installing my third set of tires at 70,000 miles probably says something.) In the Ridgeline, I just become part of the herd trying to get to work, maneuvering around the Buicks and Priuses that always seem to be blocking the slow lane and turning in front of me.

But in a bright-red Porsche, I need to think through my moves a bit more carefully to keep from getting flipped off–or worse. I found myself actually driving the car slow and steady just to keep the peace. 

And I admit that I can be just as judgmental. If I see a jacked-up pickup that’s clearly built for cruising, I instantly form an opinion–and it’s not a favorable one. Why increase ground clearance if you’re not going off road? Why all those little lights on the suspension? 

So why am I being the judgmental one here? It’s all just a bunch of crap. I don’t really know anything about that guy in the jacked-up truck, just as much he doesn’t know anything about me in my bright-red Porsche. Maybe we can find some common ground–a love of modified vehicles. 

While I’m probably not going to change the world with this story, I would suggest that the aggression on our highways has gotten to an insane level and we all might back it down a little and try to be more respectful of one another. At the end of the day we’re just trying to get from here to there, showing off a little individuality along the way. 

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Automobilist New Reader
5/26/22 1:43 p.m.

Lot's of "BroDozers" around here. Lifted trucks with huge tires sticking out the side, and goofy LED lights in the wheel wells, etc. Most folks view them as penis extenders...



husky450cr New Reader
5/28/22 6:17 p.m.

What attracted me to the Grassroots/Classic magazines decades ago, and has kept me a reader longer than any other publication, was the attitude and perspective that no matter what you drove or what project was in your garage...it was cool. 

hauckr1111 New Reader
8/3/22 11:19 a.m.

Thanks for the article and the message.  I'm afraid I have to plead guilty as charged.  Sometimes I just have to ask myself "what on earth are you doing?".  You write "probably not going to change the world with this story"... maybe but it got me to stop and think.  Thanks very much.  

TinBox New Reader
8/3/22 11:35 a.m.

Nailed it! 
I've been driving a period modified 60's mini like I stole it for 30yrs, and it's always met with a smile and a laugh. So approachable, unpresumtuous. 
Que the 911, a cherry car picked up in spring of '20, silver, quiet, and cost less than a new Honda Civic. Instantly I'm the shiny happy person, no matter how chill I drive....to the point I've stopped driving it to work, just not fun. Everyone seems to think you're some rich ahole in a Porschà, couldn't be further from it. I bought because I enjoy driving, and wanted to scratch that inch while I could, and have zero interest in impressing anyone (see the mini above) but jeeze it gets tiring. Hopefully the 5000km trip for car week will rekindle some good feelings for it. 

PetervonA2 New Reader
8/3/22 12:06 p.m.

In America going big is the default decision for just about everything, if you can buy it. Perceptions of safety, power and just more sells and dominates thinking.  Inconvenience, clutter and mindless mowing be damned.

Pickup trucks are as useful today for most driving and hawling as cowboy boots are for walking.

It takes more effort to make do with less. Defensive driving is harder. I get it, just don't like that part of our culture. And its not good for us. Its outrageous!

Our fleet is reduced to a low Volvo V60, a simple Mini Cooper S, two 1958 Giuliettas, a S1 Etype FHC and a Corvair Corsa. We've been "clocking" less than 10k miles annually since Covid and avoid highways like the plague because angry and distracted drivers seem to prefer them. 

tolyarutunoff New Reader
8/3/22 3:44 p.m.

i prefer zero mostel's line from 'the producers:'  'if you've got it, flaunt it.'  i wave at all drivers of odd vehicles, from a new porsche convertible to a coalrolling diesel pickup.  it makes life more fun.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/4/22 11:44 a.m.

In reply to Automobilist :

I get almost every type of automotive trend from Stance to low riders, but cannot get on board with thee bro-dozers and the kinds of people that drive them.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/4/22 11:45 a.m.

In reply to husky450cr :

Always inclusive and not exclusive. To us a Triumph Spitfire is just as cool, ok, maybe not quite as cool as our 997 Porche project.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/4/22 11:47 a.m.

In reply to hauckr1111 :

Happy to help and believe, me I am not exactly innocent when it comes to driving like an ass, but it has gotten to the point, I avoid interstates, because the lack of sense and talent and the ability to pay attention are gone in our society.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/4/22 11:48 a.m.

In reply to PetervonA2 :

Amen to that and not a bad garage line up.


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