Home » When Is A Car Too Nice To Daily Drive? Autopian Asks

When Is A Car Too Nice To Daily Drive? Autopian Asks

Autopian Asks Too Nice To Daily Drive
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If you own a fleet of cars, some likely see more use than others, and making that decision can be tricky. When is a car too nice to daily drive? Sure, in an age of more prevalent hybrid and remote work, daily driving might look very different to one person than to another, but the principles of a daily driver are the same regardless — it’s a car you’re okay with using and parking in public, that sees frequent use and isn’t afraid of the odd potential rock chip or door ding.

Admittedly, the condition of my Boxster has limited its daily driving scope, but only slightly. Sure, it might only have one previous owner, excellent records, and look proper, but since I don’t have a commute, I don’t feel guilty using it often. If it’s not winter and it’s not properly raining, I drive it, preferably with the top down. After all, cars are made to be driven, and my favorite part of car ownership is driving the things. The sensation of feeling the front end load up on corner entry, the sound of an engine when it comes on cam, the dance between driver and controls, there’s just something so performance art about it all.

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At the same time, Mercedes has a showroom-fresh third-generation Smart Fortwo that’s absolutely not a daily driver. It only has 7,000 miles on the clock, is likely one of the nicest specimens in North America, and Mercedes describes it as a “garage queen.”

However, everyone has different boundaries on what’s too nice to daily drive. I mean, I know someone who uses their McLaren 570S as a winter beater because carbon fiber doesn’t rust, and I also know someone who has a Toyota Camry that’s only used for special occasions. So, when is a car too nice for you to daily drive it? Let us know in the comments below.

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(Photo credits: Mercedes Streeter)

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CantoDrifto
CantoDrifto
24 days ago

The one that hurts when you find a new scratch/chip/dent.

I have 2 cars both worth about the same and in similar conditions. It hurts when I hear a rock bounce off car #1. When I hear a rock bounce off car #2, it makes my glad I wasn’t driving car #1.

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
25 days ago

I live in Florida. Anything can be and is a daily driver here. It’s totally normal to see classic and exotic cars on the road all the time. My only car is a 67 Chevy. My answer would be different if I still lived up north.

Steve_the_Nomad
Steve_the_Nomad
25 days ago

I wouldn’t DD a car that would be difficult or impossible to replace if damaged beyond repair. As far as I can tell GM made about 7,900 ’56 Nomads. I’ll drive mine about once every week or two, but considering how many other drivers are speeding and/or distracted, I won’t daily it.

It would be interesting to see if all the commenters who swear they’d DD really expensive cars, would actually do it given the opportunity. Especially knowing the massive depreciation hit that usually entails.

Last edited 25 days ago by Steve_the_Nomad
Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
25 days ago

I don’t care about keeping my cars pristine, so to me there is no such thing as too nice to daily drive. If it is a vehicle I can afford to buy, I will drive it. To me, the biggest automotive tragedy is a cool car locked away in garage out of sight. That is far worse than scratches or a few door dings. It would suck to have a cool car wrecked by some doofus in an Altima, but that is why you have car insurance.

Recently one of my non-car enthusiast friends asked me for advice on how to repair a scratch on his car. I stared blankly for a minute before realizing I had absolutely no idea. I have so little concern for scratches that it never occurred to me that someone might want to fix them.

Last edited 25 days ago by Stig's Cousin
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
25 days ago

I don’t have sheltered parking for anything nice—say, 7 out of 10 or higher—so I get to enjoy driving them. Plus it helps that I don’t want anything unique or so rare that balling it up would be a noticeable percentage of extant cars.

It’s freeing driving something you can walk away from, but we all have different thresholds for that level.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
25 days ago

I am the owner of an original condition 1932 Chevrolet Confederate with mechanical brakes, no seatbelts and marginal add-on rearview mirrors. I have added turn signals using the original housing in the rear and on the coach lights on the front. I have become adept with the non-synchro box as well as the direct mechanical steering. Despite having developed these skills as well as a myriad other smaller ones, I am never comfortable driving in urban traffic. County roads are more its forte.

‘Nuff said!

Logan King
Logan King
25 days ago

Never. If you buy car to use it with the knowledge that you will need to work harder to maintain it and keep it presentable then there’s no conflict.
There’s perhaps cars that are too impractical to use as such but I alternate my daily drive between an Elise and a C4, spent several years driving a VW Cabriolet with no roof, and constantly see people driving Slingshots every day; so even where that line is is a tolerance/life situation thing than a hard rule.

Last edited 25 days ago by Logan King
Myk El
Myk El
25 days ago

A lot of it I think is going to depend a lot on the location. If you live where it gets cold and snowy where salt is used, that’s gotta impact the math. Also, traffic density, quality of drivers, etc. Then you get into what happens if it gets damaged, your emotional attachment to said car and on down the line.

2manybikes
2manybikes
25 days ago

Never. When in 2016 I was lucky enough to buy my dream car since I was 13 and saw a Viper on the cover of the March 1992 Car & Driver–it had gained another 250 HP waiting, just for me–it became my nearly-daily for three beautiful years, over 25K miles. When I finally let her go to the next lucky sod, the broker said I needed to expect low bids because it was “extraordinarily miles heavy.” I remember thinking, who buys these to NOT drive them? It still confuses me when I come across a special car with nearly no miles. The Drive did a post today about an F1 with 12 miles. Bless me, but who dreams of having a car they don’t drive?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
25 days ago

When you can’t afford or can’t folind the parts to fix it should it be likely damaged in regular usage.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
25 days ago

Well I “daily drive” my bikes and the CTA as much as possible but if I’m going to drive for transportation the cars that are “too nice” for it are the ones that are on classic insurance. Also my 911 would suck trying to get back and forth across Chicago.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
25 days ago

A car is too nice to DD when you worry about scratching it

Solved it. We can go home

Isis
Isis
25 days ago

It’s not so much when it’s too nice, it’s more of if it’s wildly impractical for your typical day. Stupid loud, no roof, RWD in winter, no back seats when you’re on dropoff, etc.

Jj
Jj
25 days ago

I’ve got a reunion coming up and want to impress people.

Think I can borrow that Camry?

Last edited 25 days ago by Jj
Alex Kwanten
Alex Kwanten
25 days ago

Like most things, it depends on your circumstances and the cars.

Once upon a time, I traded away a Peugeot 405 Mi16 for a really nice 1981 Fiat Brava (née 131). Really nice. Basically showroom condition, despite a couple of decades of regular use and a total lack of factory support almost from the day it was sold. It had come from Arizona.

But I lived in New York City, and indoor storage was too expensive for me at the time. I was perfectly happy to keep my beaters on the street and even parts cars occasionally, but this car? Could I really live with it on the street in salty sub-zero NYC winters? Within a couple of years, it would surely have degraded, and I just felt bad about it. So I sold it to a guy who drove it back to San Francisco.

Two years later I passed on buying a 1929 Essex for similar reasons. Are you going to drive that regularly in Manhattan or the Bronx? I mean, one could. If you like dealing with upkeep on a 90-year-old car that’s dicing with modern traffic on terrible roads and don’t ever want to use the highway. By then I had off-street storage (at considerable cost), but I was pretty sure such a car would get damaged on NYC streets, and I couldn’t really justify having a car that wasn’t all that useful as a driveable vehicle.

Now I live in the PNW, and if I had either of those cars today, they’d be in regular rotation. It’s easier to live with cars like that out here, and rust isn’t as much of a worry.

Joke #119!
Joke #119!
25 days ago

I’m not in a position to not daily-drive any of my cars, having only two cars with two drivers.
In a fantasy future, I would not daily-drive any of my 100 vehicles if it would lose value to drive it. “For display only” or for parades, I guess.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
25 days ago

No such thing 😀

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
25 days ago

All of mine get driven, if anything they are limited by being blocked in to the driveway and being inconvenient to get out. My Mustang gets driven the least because I average 13-14mpg of all city driving, however, it is my preferred choice for road trips because it has the best sound system, great a/c, the most room, and gets ~25mpg highway due to sitting at around 2100rpm at 80. The Miatas do most of the daily driving and the S10 is for bad weather and parts hauling. I do hope to buy a FD one day and it will be a garage queen for sure. Partially due to (hopefully) being nice and parts rarity and partially because rotary things.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
25 days ago

It’s not a matter of how nice the car is, but how rare its parts are. I had an ’02 Mazda Millenia S that took my shop over a month to replace the control arms simply because the parts are super hard to come by. It’s a wonderful car to drive, but when basic stuff – not to mention the complex, one-off engine – on a just 20 year old car is hard to replace, I can’t afford to daily it.

In the same vein, I bought spare tail lights for my CRZ, not because I needed them, but because it’s one of those “burned out bulbs mean replace the whole thing” units, and I don’t want to have to go searching for one in ten years.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
25 days ago

I will only refrain from daily driving a car if it’s too bad or too rare. I’ve never had a particularly rare car, so I’ve only ever hesitated to drive a car places because of things like bad ball joints/bushings, weather seal leaks or the like. Hypothetically, if/when I get something notorious for rust such as an Alfasud or MGB, I’ll refrain from driving it when the salt’s out, but today is not that day. I do wash my car regularly, though.

When I say rare, I mean something with few examples and fewer replacement parts left, and therefore very hard to replace or repair.

My Boxster isn’t in quite as nice a shape as yours, but I bought it specifically for daily driver duty, so I wasn’t too particular about imperfections like small dents, worn bolsters and faded plastics. That said, I bought it specifically because it’s hot-dip galvanized and features side-impact airbags, which places it a world away from most roadsters in that price range for daily-driving peace of mind.

I’d also be forced to not daily drive anything that has to be insured through Hagerty or other similar agreed-value policy with limited yearly mileage, but that’s contractual obligation rather than personal choice.

Last edited 25 days ago by Ricardo Mercio
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
25 days ago

Never, otherwise what’s the point of having it?

That said, I live in a temperate area with no snow or rust, and my answer would probably be different in snow country.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
25 days ago

If I’ve just hand-detailed my ’97 Grand Cherokee, it’s only leaving the garage on nice days. It also stays home on snow days, even though it’s my preferred winter vehicle. It handles quite well in bad weather, I just want to enjoy all that hard work before it gets washed away. (Also, I really distrust other drivers, especially if we’re talking about snow and/or ice.)

The ’03 TJ is mildly terrifying in torrential rains, so it too stays at home if storms are in the forecast.

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