Volvo 240 -1975-93
Hipsters, as we see it, are like the Ouroboros. As a group, hipsters are historically the outcasts of society who have fallen so far below societal normality that they circle back around and find themselves atop the trend ladder, shaping the society that has rejected them.
Volvos are the same way – especially the venerable 240. The Swedes designed the Volvo 240 to be safe above all else. Stylish, it ain’t. This made the 240 ideal for parents who wanted to transport their offspring around as safely as possible but could care less about how fast they went or how uncool they appeared. The 240, then, is the original Swedish minivan. And we needn’t tell you how uncool minivans are.
The Volvo 240 has become so uncool it is now hipster cool. Delightfully for hipsters, the Volvo 240 has also proven not only to be safe and fuel-efficient but also one of the most reliable cars ever built. Meaning, as it degrades on the inside and out, it can remain in tip-top running condition without any major financial investment. After all, a true hipster hasn’t any money anyhow.
Saab 900 – 1979-93
Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear once said that Saabs were built for architects, men who valued aesthetics and structural integrity above all else. Seems appropriate, then, that a hipster would adopt the quirky Swedish beast years down the road – perhaps even as a hand-me-down.
Just like the Volvo 240, the Saab 900 was also designed with safety at its core. But where the Volvo was simply a boxy safety cage with wheels and an engine, the Saab 900 was supposed to be dynamic and sporty, too.
Hipsters who love visual vigor and a bit of driving dynamism are wise to take a look at the Saab 900, as it offers both in spades – especially in the turbo models. Unlike the Volvo 240, however, the Saab 900 suffers from a horrendous long-term reliability rating. The Saab marketing often bragged the brand was ‘born from jets.’ If jets broke down as often as Saab 900s, no one would dare ever fly.
Ford F-100 – 1967-72
Of all the years of the F-Series, none is more coveted by hipsters than the fifth generation, which spanned the years from 1967 to 1972. Previous-gen F-Series trucks are now collectable and the generations following the fifth are still being used as the workhorses they were designed to be. But the fifth generation Fs have fallen into that middle realm where they’re too old to be useful on the worksite but also not yet cool enough to merit the momentous investment for restoration. This makes these trucks, then, perfect for hipsters who feel like they need a 1960s vehicle but also want something with some post-apocalyptic capability.
As great as these trucks might seem for the tragically hip, they have a deadly flaw even worse than their horrible brakes, loose steering, and absolute lack of any safety equipment.
Did you know a truck like the rudimentary fifth generation F-100 pollutes more just parked on the street leaking various fluids than a modern hybrid emits at 70mph on the highway? It’s true. So although you might spend most of your waking hours riding your fixie and railing against the planet-ruining corporations (like, say, Ford), you’re unwittingly poisoning the planet with the purchase of a F-100, even if you don’t drive it. So unless you’re comfortable being a hypocrite, which you already probably are anyhow, then the F-100 is a great vehicle to show off not only your manliness but also your dedication to the hard, cool life. Go for it.
Mercedes-Benz 300D 1968-76
What’s cooler than sticking it to the Man and powering your German luxury land ship off of homemade biodiesel? Nothing, if that’s what floats your (slow and noisy) boat.
Hipsters who feel like they’ve got it all figured out are often attracted to the 300D, as it has a certain classic understated European charm but also a keen ability to be powered outside of the societal norm. Plus, anyone in an old sweater and fedora looks great behind the wheel of the W114 Mercedes. That’s just a fact.
What most of the youngsters who invest in the 300D don’t realize, however, is that the 300D – like most big Mercedes-Benz sedans – was originally built as a rich man’s car. That means that parts now – just like in the early 1970s – are expensive. Plus, diesel engine bits are even more expensive than gasoline bits. So what might just be a pricey car to buy becomes ludicrously expensive to maintain. Making your own biodiesel, too, is a hassle. But we won’t even open that can of frialator oil.
But unlike some of the vehicles on this list, we’d actually recommend buying up a 300D – even to non-hipsters. That is, if you understand what you’re getting yourself into. With the right funds, the 300D could be a cool, albeit slow, distinctive eco-sedan.
Plymouth Valiant – 1963-66
The Plymouth Valiant had a long, healthy life from 1960 through to 1976. Hipsters often seem to be drawn to every generation of the Valiant but the second-gen model was the one we saw as best appealing to hipsterdom. For argument sake, however, the Ford Fairlane or Chevrolet Malibu could easily replace the Valiant, as they stand as ubiquitous 1960s American cars.
Anecdotally, hipster women who have found themselves with a steady income –usually from hairdressing or working in tattoo parlors – purchase the Valiant. And why? Because they want to be different, they want to stand out and feel cool when they drive down the road. In this way, it absolutely succeeds.
These Valiant-loving hipsters, though, have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. 1960s American cars aren’t like a 2001 Toyota Corolla. Your mechanic can’t simply plug a scanner into it and find out what’s wrong. Everything in the car – down to the ignition – is mechanical and it all needs fiddling with, and often. Parts still might be plentiful but they also might be two weeks away. That’s assuming you can find someone who’ll even work on it – or even know what a carburetor is/does, as there seems to be a dearth of hipster mechanics, except at bike shops.
As cute as the stylish Valiant might be, it’s a hard car to live with. Driving it is hard work. The brakes are heavy. The steering is heavy. The doors are heavy. It doesn’t handle. It doesn’t accelerate. It doesn’t get good gas mileage. And it’s not reliable by modern standards, or most any standard. At least not any more.
And if you’re thinking you can just work on it yourself, you should just scrap that whole pipedream at the outset. Get an old Volvo instead.
Did we miss your favorite hipster ride? Nominate your choice in comments!