Apparently I drive a Granny car….

I was going to include this in a post entitled strange things people say, but I decided to focus on this particular gem on its own.

Now there were a number of things about this statement which caused me to raise the old eyebrows. Firstly, the person calling my car names is someone I’d consider a Granny driver, not that I’d say so to her. She drives only in her village and the neighbouring small town, avoids any longer journey by guilting her husband or other family member to drive instead. She never drives in the dark, or in a foreign country. I’d call her cautious, but I’d even go so far as to say she’s ponderous in her driving, and watching her manoeuvring is a positively painful experience.

Whereas me? Well, I’ve had a number of fines for driving over the speed limit, so numerous in fact that I’ve been on many a road safety education programme and thus now drive entirely within the rules. My natural instinct is still to put my foot down, but I reign it in as soon as I notice. But unlike this person, I like driving; I really enjoy it. An ex who tested and raced high performance cars called me a proper driver, which I considered high praise. Certainly I’ve long had confidence in my competence, much of which was gained during those years I managed a company car fleet, happily hopping in & out of different cars, running them to ‘n fro for their regular drivers. It was a point of pride to never ask “how do you…?” or “where is the…?” One colleague was an hugely unlikeable individual and the garage where he dropped his car for a service took to parking his car in ever tighter spaces. Without telling me this fact, he arranged that I collect his car. Each time I took it as a personal challenge to my skills not to ask for another car to be moved – and each time I successfully removed the car without harm to it or others. Until the day a mechanic spotted it was me driving, and told me the tale. I promised never to collect it again….

That said, I’ve never owned a new car, nor owned one with a big engine. I did own one relatively hot hatch in my forties – which had sports seats and a quick change gearbox. I absolutely loved it, and all my daughter’s male friends thought I was cool as **** Unfortunately the seats killed my back and my boyfriend of the time couldn’t handle the gearbox, so I sold it and bought a VW. I’d still happily be driving a(nother) VW, as I love their all round solidity and quality of manufacture – for while I enjoy driving, a car is just a tool to get from A to B for me.

But, just months before the world went into full pandemic mode, a knee injury flared up, leaving me in tears when I engaged the clutch in order to change gear in my latest VW. Fortunately, Himself was in the car, and took over the driving. Weeks followed, during which I discovered I was allergic to the suggested pain relief medication, and so surgery became urgent. What also became urgent was me having access to a car which I could drive without using my left knee. And so I bought it…. My Granny car. It’s a compact Honda, with 4 doors and a boot (trunk for my readers across the pond). It has an automatic gearbox, is a silver grey rectangle, it looks dull, dull, dull…. and it’s pretty uninspiring to drive too. But, it allowed me to get myself to and from hospital, even while on crutches, and I love anything that ensures my independence. Maybe once I’ve had (and recovered) from the full knee replacement, I’ll change it again. Perhaps I’ll take my time and find a(nother) VW, but one with an automatic gearbox, as I’ll admit it makes sitting in traffic to and from London to visit the grandchildren way less stressful. For while I bristled at my car being called Granny…. I am, indeed, a Grandma (and a proud one at that).

What do you think your car says about you? Do you love a big-engined beast, or a compact runaround? If cost and practicality were no object, what car might you buy?


Β© Debra Carey, 2021

26 thoughts on “Apparently I drive a Granny car….

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  1. Another goodie, keep them coming Debs. The only car I ever loved passionately (not being a car fanatic) was my Smart car. It did me well for 10 years but sadly has gone to another as we are down to one car!

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  2. Aw thanks Sarah x Being a lover of small cars I always rather fancied a Smart car, but Himself insists it’ll be too small for him and isn’t convinced by my telling him that (French rugby player) Sebastian Chabal used to drive one & loved it too πŸ™‚

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  3. I don’t like driving, nor own a car. That being said, we recently rented an Audi Quattro. Lived it. Don’t know what it says, but if I were to buy a car it would be that one

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  4. I drive a 4-door Honda with a boot, as you call it. At least I am in good company! I just don’t put much of my soul into what I drive.

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  5. I was confused. I used to drive a Honda, but now I drive a Ford. A granny car in both cases.

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  6. I’ve been driving for a v-e-r-y long time and at one time held an HGV Class 1 licence (that’s for those big articulated trucks) so have driven a lot of vehicles over the years. A few I recall – my first car a 1953 Triumph Mayflower which went really well; my father’s first edition Escort that was surprisingly sporty; an MG 1100 which was really fun to drive. The one I miss most, though was a modern Skoda Octavia diesel which not only moved like the proverbial bat out of …. but was also very economical. I could get 70 mpg on a long, fast run and the boot swallowed everything with no problem. After that came another Skoda, a Fabia this time as I am now retired and don’t need a bigger car. That was good to drive but I have just traded it in for a Suzuki Swift in which I have only driven 200 miles so far and I am still investigating its potential. It is a hybrid which a is totally new concept to me so I am watching carefully!

    If practicalities and price were no object I’d go for a 1949 Triumph Roadster 200 – fully restored of course. To my mind one of the most elegant cars ever produced.

    Petrolhead – moi? πŸ™‚

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  7. We’ve been driving Honda Civics since 1976! My current one, a manual shift, is 15 years old. 😊 My next one will be the smallest EV I can find in our neck of the woods. I have absolutely no interest in fancy cars.

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  8. My car is a Honda, but it’s not a granny car. It’s 18 years old, a sporty two-door sedan with a spoiler, and a V-6 engine that’ll get me going fast when I want to. I’ve seen teenage boys oogling my car then they see me and are shocked. I may look like a granny, but my car says otherwise. I enjoy sending the mixed message.

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  9. Hi Natalie, automatic transmissions are becoming much more common in the UK now. I do still love the experience of driving a manual (stick) transmission but I can accept that those days are behind me now πŸ™‚

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  10. Nice choice LA πŸ™‚ If I lived somewhere that public transport was reliable, I’d have given up my car years ago. But London prices are well beyond me.

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  11. I tell you Donna, I was offended on behalf of my Honda. I know a fair number of retired people choose one, but I felt it was unnecessary name calling.

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  12. I love it Alan, the fact that you’ve completely avoided being pigeon-holed thus with your choice of cars. A little Swift eh? I suspect you might find it fun to drive, although I’ve no idea how the hybrids fare in that area. Love the dream car – great choice πŸ™‚

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  13. Janet, I was pretty peeved with this person for casting aspersions on my Honda. It’s not flash or anything, but I can park on a sixpence (which I can assure you my friend cannot!) πŸ˜€

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  14. Jane, the driver in me would be happier with a manual shift, the automatic transmission just doesn’t offer the same driving experience. Himself & I are investigating hybrid and EV options for the next one either of us buys. At the moment, we live in an apartment so having access to a reliable charging point is an issue, but I’ve no doubt that’ll change.

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  15. Ah Ally, there is no greater tell that you have a great car when them teenage boys give it (and you by extension) the eye. I loved my little hot hatch, and felt the absolute bees knees when the boys crowded round it. I’d like to get something rash, but my daughter gives me a disapproving look over anything un-green, and what with petrol costing a bomb over here, I’m unlikely to indulge again. I envy you your V6 πŸ™‚ Himself would too πŸ™‚ We’ve a neighbour who drives a BMW V8 which positively growls – Himself just loves hearing it.

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  16. We’re in a similar situation wrt charging as we prepare to move to apt living as well. And finding the option of a manual shift in a new car seems to be becoming increasingly rare. Sigh.

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  17. I’ve always driven a manual transmission. And yes, of course all the silly men were impressed. But once I had a kid in the back and Los Angeles freeways to deal with…I traded in the little two-seater sports car for the bigger SUV (hatchbacks also become very important when you have large dogs).

    Thank goodness I could drive a manual, because that turned out to be our rental car on our trip in the UK. And despite having driven in Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, and Italy, the most terrified I’ve ever been was driving our of Heathrow Airport in a manual transmission on the left side of the road.

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  18. Driving somewhere new is quite the challenge without being on the other side of the road AND having to leave manual gear changing. I hope your husband was duly grateful for your expertise πŸ˜‰

    When I used to holiday in Italy with an ex, the Italian men at the hire car company could not believe it was me driving not him. I could understand enough Italian to know they were calling him names, while he enjoyed the company of the non-driving wives & girlfriends in blissful ignorance πŸ™‚

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  19. My husband was not grateful–to this day he insists that he had to yell “CURB!” far too often. I think the hardest part was shifting left-handed instead of right-handed. My left-handed friend who drove in South Africa, on the other hand (ha-ha), enjoyed driving manual.

    Ignorance is indeed bliss.

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  20. Autumn, I feel your pain. I had similar with my sister who’s been living in the US for decades now. I was surprised how easily she’d forgotten her years of driving not only in the UK, but in London. Her daughter loved the experience of driving fast along winding roads – those being the days before I got caught speeding) πŸ˜‰

    I get what you mean about the hand changeover, I find going around roundabouts on the continent has the same impact on me. I do it right but it causes feelings of physical discomfort and brain strain every time.

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