Home » Quick Question: What Car Was Most Like A Beret In The Sense That It Works Well In Incredibly Different Contexts?

Quick Question: What Car Was Most Like A Beret In The Sense That It Works Well In Incredibly Different Contexts?

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Okay, just hear me out here: I was thinking about berets the other day. You know, that traditionally French hat that’s shaped like a jelly donut someone sat on? I was thinking about them because, in the Headwear Cinematic Universe, berets have a really extraordinary range of associations. At one extreme, they’re the headgear of choice for mimes, one of the most reviled and mocked sub-classes of humanity, and on the other extreme they’re the hats of elite military units all over the world; for example, the U.S. Army Special Forces are even nicknamed the Green Berets after the damn things. In raspberry color, they’re sexy as hell. The breadth of identity a beret is capable of adapting to is remarkable, but, like all interesting thoughts, it’s bullshit until applied to automobiles, so let’s do that. Name a car that enjoys a similar degree of acceptance across such a huge cultural and utilitarian spectrum? In short, what car is a beret?

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This is a tricky question, I think. There are some cars that come close, like the original Mini (which was both a small, economical city car and also the basis of many iconic rally cars) or the original Volkswagen Beetle, a post-war basic people’s car and also the basis for dune buggies and desert racers. But I’m not sure that’s enough, really. Lots of cars filled a wide variety of roles – Crown Vics were taxicabs and cop cars and family cars, BMWs have been the steeds of choice for everyone from performance driving enthusiasts to rich douchebags to douchebags that seem rich, but are really in massive debt. But none of these are really beret-level breadth.

Jeeps

One candidate that may be worthy is the Jeep Wrangler. And, I think we need to make the distinction between the older CJ Jeeps and military Jeeps and use the Wrangler for this, starting with the square-headlight YJ generation. The Wrangler managed to take on a surprising number of quite varied roles in modern life and culture, from being the vehicle of choice for the Alicia Silverstone’s main character in the movie Clueless, being an off-roading icon, an icon of the gay community, a vehicle for letting everyone know how angry you are all the time,  and, of course, serving in armed forces all over the world.

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That’s a decent range of roles and positions in the spectrum of human endeavors, but is it really beret-level? Maybe? I suspect that you may have your own ideas, so let’s hear them! Hop in the comments, propose your automotive beret, and let the arguments and evaluations and recriminations and tears and laughter and catharses unfold! Have at it!

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Myk El
Myk El
1 year ago

Yeah, I think I have to agree with the original Mini. Practical economy car but also a style icon oh, yeah, and you could race it. I saw one over the weekend and I’m still impressed by the overall packaging.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago

Geo Trackers! Popular with beach girls but also with hoodlums who put Daytons and hydraulics on them. And as with berets, almost no one except for those outliers like them.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
1 year ago

The premise is wrong; it shouldn’t be the car that is like a beret, it should be a car accessory that is like a beret for the car, just like a beret is an accessory for a person.

I believe that accessory is a continental spare tire. One some cars, it is incredible. On some, it is practical (I’m thinking like a jeep, and I know it’s not a “Continental” spare according to Hoyle….) On others, it’s absurd.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago

I would say the Toyota Hilux (AKA “Truck” over here)

Tyler S
Tyler S
1 year ago

What vehicle has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame? The chevy suburban (and the other vehicles based off it) are used everywhere by everyone. Dictators and rebels, cops and gangsters, soccer moms and teens on a date. When my best friends grandma rolled her suburban the local fire dept’s suburban had the tools to cut her out and the local coroner’s suburban hauled her off.

Keon R
Keon R
1 year ago
Reply to  Tyler S

I agree with you, but man that turned grim quickly.

Tyler S
Tyler S
1 year ago
Reply to  Keon R

Dad was a firefighter and a livestock farmer, mom was at one time an EMT, so my childhood left me a little blasé when it comes to these kinda things.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 year ago

Any Subaru wagon. I once showed up to paint a $10+ million dollar mansion in my Subaru Legacy and the owner was driving the same car, just in way better nick. Royals drive them and paupers. They are the ultimate stealth wealth

Steve Schriefer
Steve Schriefer
1 year ago

Renault Espace F1. It is French, it is something seen all over the world in cheap imitations that can never replicate the original and while you’d never want to be seen in a minivan, the Espace F1 makes you think, “maybe I can pull this off”…

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

The VW 181 “Thing”:
Incredible 2WD off road and military abilities.
Fun silly hippie mobile on the road for privateers 😎

Ford_Timelord
Ford_Timelord
1 year ago

I’ve narrowed it down to two types and am looking at cars available today

1/ These are semi premium cars that go under the radar and are sought after as second hand cars.

Australia
Subaru Outback. Never out of place and basically autonomous for old money through to backpacking travellers and plain clothes police (Australia).
Toyota Land Cruiser. As above. More the 300series than the 70 Series
Suzuki Jimny. Popular in both the inner city and country areas less so in suburbia.

USA similar to Australia
Subaru Outback.
Toyota Land Cruiser.
Tesla Model 3

2/ These are all “an car” and as such have zero status and semi disposable but used by all members of society including police and often come in a variety of AWD / Wagon options.

All of the Europe have there own parochial small hatch.
France Peugeot 208
Germany / UK skoda Octavia and VW Golf
Italy Fiat Panda. True Story – I was living in Turin a decade ago in an old money part of the city. They were everywhere. At one stage there were 7 Pandas in a row (mostly gen 2).
Also Dacias and Skodas… everyone uses them especially through eastern europe

Rest of the world – Russia, Middle east, Africa, SE Asia
Toyota Corolla, Suzuki Jimny, Toyota Prius, Honda fit / Jazz

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 year ago

I don’t know who your dealer is but he’s definitely selling the premium grade stuff.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

He’s been selling the premium grade stuff since forever.

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Lead dust: not even once

Maymar
Maymar
1 year ago

The Toyota Prius has been an alt-status symbol, a taxi, something sturdy enough to thrive in Mongolia, and now just a benign low-cost commuter car.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 year ago
Reply to  Maymar

I would also add, if you check out Prius Offroad they can be economically be made mildly capable in that context, too. (I got their 1.5″ lift kit for reasons unrelated to offroading.)

Laurence Rogers
Laurence Rogers
1 year ago

Late to the chat, I’d agree on the Landcruiser being one of the most universal, and argue the WRX has one of the most diverse ownership, at least over here:

-P-platers who somehow got an exemption to drive a Bugeye WRX. Pumpin’ stereo install, tons of stickers and either replica wheels or plastidipped stock wheels

– Ladies in their early 20s with their first ‘professional jobs’ brand new WRX kept perfectly detailed with minor cosmetic mods like a front lip or wheels

– Other ladies in their early 20s with a used WRX with loud exhaust showing off on the main street

– Blokes in their 20s/30s with typical mods and a bunch of stickers trying to impress the ladies in the prior two groups

– Ladies in their 50s/60s buying a ‘fun car’ now the kids moved out. Kept completely stock

– Blokes in their 50s/60s with absolutely mint brand-new Sti models with only genuine or JDM accessories/mods, probably also had a WRX back in the 90s (maybe a new one every few years) and loyal to the brand

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

But.. flat brimmed baseball hat is already the official headwear of the WRX.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago

I guess I’m not a typical WRX owner. Middle aged, married, no kids, non-vaper. The AWD is great for Canadian winters, fuel economy is not bad if you don’t drive like an ass but it is fast enough to get out of its own way. The Impreza feels way underpowered, the STI is right quick, but the WRX is that in the middle bear territory.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

I most forcefully disagree. The beret is useless and silly looking in all ots useless and is only for ridiculous show. So i nominate the Smart car. Has many purposes does none of them well and are simply for show. Low mpg? Bigger cars have better. City car dangerous. Rally car well competes fine with anything worth under $500.

Robert Pridgen
Robert Pridgen
1 year ago

Ford Panther platform. One one end of the spectrum Grandma’s sand gold Crown Vic, on the other: the Mercury Marauder.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Pridgen

The mercury marauder being a somewhat hopped up version of Grandma’s sand gold Vic but it comes with a jacket.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
1 year ago

Chevy Suburban. You see them parked in the worst neighborhoods, next to the Gulfstream G650s in the UAE, and everywhere in between. And they always fit in like they are just part of the landscape.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 year ago
Reply to  Rapgomi

This is a good answer, especially if you include the Yukon XL in with it. People who can afford them love them, as do people who cannot unless they have five previous owners and 250,000 miles. As you say, they are ever-present and hardly noticed unless someone intentionally looks for them.

Extremely-Good-Opinions
Extremely-Good-Opinions
1 year ago

VW Beetle *obviously*. What other car gets driven by nazi high command and bay area hippies

Torque
Torque
1 year ago

As well as made for over 50 years with the basic design the same.
And as torch pointed out, turned in to dune buggies & rail buggies for off reading as well as The source for a plethora of kit cars for decades.
Beetle underpinnings of course also made in to the Bus, Karman ghia, taxi use, hippie mobile, military use, cheap car abuse etc…

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

I think the Mercedes W123 fits this description. You can find them driven by everyone from tasteful wealthy folks on beautiful estates to starving-artist hipster types in fashionable cities to Moroccan taxi drivers on brutal dirt roads to literally any type of family in the middle east and it fits all of its roles very well, with the love of the Mercedes W123 being one of the few unifying traits between all of those groups.

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