The War on Cars

The War on Cars has a long history. Once the story hits NPR, you know it’s real, or maybe the existence of the #WARONCARS hashtag proves it. While the debate continues, I have determined the The War on Cars is real. If you really love cars, you’ll be surprised which side of the war you should be on…

In Minnesota, we love to drive everywhere, but we really don’t have a “car culture.” It’s not like Vegas, LA, or San Diego where you can find thriving car clubs for many models.

Most of this has to do with the weather. A mentor once told me “If you can live in Minnesota, you can live anywhere. We have 140° total difference between winter and summer.” It’s true. Then there is an ongoing joke that in Minnesota we have two seasons: Winter and Road Construction – which is more of a reality than a joke. Because of the rigorous freeze/thaw cycle, the pavement is very susceptible to the dreaded pot-hole, and it’s a widespread problem. Driving around in my Subaru – with stock suspension – I can’t even sip a coffee without it splashing in my face.

Our lack of car culture could also be due to our penchant for being practical. Driving a high-horsepower rear-drive car year round here isn’t exactly practical. Are you going to put snow tires on your Nissan Z? They probably don’t even make snow tires for that size of wheel. Besides, I’ve seen the salt we put down rust out a car that is less than a year old.


Good luck, have fun!

At some point every Minnesota resident just said, “F**k it, I’m getting a Buick.” It’s inexpensive and cushy – who cares if it gets rusty.

So if you really love cars, you will want to be part of the War on Cars. But you really have to love cars. If you modify them, race them at the drag strip, enter them into car shows or competitions, drive them in parades, do autocross or road racing, and truly enjoy the car itself and not just the convenience, I’m talking to you. The side you will want to be on is the side that will get all of the Buicks and Camrys out of your way.

If you have a nice car you may have some disposable income. Would you pay to have less cars on the freeway? I would. Congestion pricing could do just that.

If you are a true car lover, you respect your vehicle enough not to drive it in the Minnesota winter. But instead of buying a winter beater, take the bus, and put your one car under comprehensive insurance only. You’re probably already paying for premium fuel which isn’t getting any cheaper. The fuel and insurance savings over the winter should be more than enough to cover your bus pass and congestion pass. You might even have some extra cash leftover, go buy yourself a fatbike for Christmas. It won’t fit in the rack on the front of the bus, but it will be awesome to ride around the paddock at the racetrack.

To the others that think they’re car lovers (but are really posers in love with the convenience, not the machine) – I’ve noticed you’re starting to trade your Buicks in for Priuses. I applaud the environmental effort, but I don’t want to see the streets crowded with hybrid cars. I’d rather they be crowded with hybrid buses and taxis, bikers and walkers. Think London, not the “mini Los Angeles” that our sprawl currently resembles.

Justin Foell

About Justin Foell

Justin is an aspiring urbanist stuck in suburbia. He enjoys cycling, beer, yo-yos, computers, and other geekery. Closet railfan.