My son Bradley was 10 when I bought him a 1960 Bugeye Sprite two years ago. I was setting us up to make father-and-son memories together. I chose a Bugeye because that was my first car. The day I turned 16, I was first in line to take my driving test. An hour later, after shelling out $30, I owned my first sports car. Getting Bradley a Bugeye was no different than a father wanting his son to play the same musical instruments he did, participate in the same sports — and maybe even go to the same schools. I bought it so we could have some shared common experiences. I thought having a Bugeye would ensure that.

What about a Miata?

When my daughter Alex turned 16 in 2007, I found her a 1995 BMW 318i with a 5-speed. The European sports car convertibles in our price range were slow and ugly, thanks to federal smog and safety regulations. I took Alex to see a used Miata. “Dad, you didn’t raise me to drive a Miata,” she said. But a Miata has become more attractive with each passing year. Our 1960s sports cars are increasingly expensive to maintain. They are unsafe in modern freeway traffic. If I offered Alex a choice between a 2008 Miata (worth $10,000) and our 1965 Giulia Spider (worth north of six figures) to use as her daily driver, I’m fairly certain which car she would pick. The Bugeye was not a wise financial decision. We have spent (invested?) about $30,000 on the car. We had local expert Chip Starr go through the car from stem to stern, building a 1,275-cc engine, finding a 3.7 rear end, and simply making sure that everything was working properly. Our friend Matt Crandall of the Avant Garde Collection ( is going to sell the car for us. If we get $20,000, I will consider it a success. The value of this car is not going to go up in the foreseeable future. It’s time to cut it loose, take my loss and save the money for the future. If we realize just $15,000, there are plenty of good Miatas and Boxsters to be found in that price range. Both cars have more comfort, performance and safety features than any car from the 1960s. A Bugeye was a great daily driver when I was 16. Not so much now.

A fun, safe, comfortable trip

In fact, some of my favorite memories with Alex revolve around a road trip we took in 2008 in our 2002 Boxster S. The Porsche was only six years old, but it was mostly depreciated. It was just a fun commodity — and cheap. We covered a quick 1,500 miles in four days, crossing central Oregon and heading to Eureka on the California coast before we headed home. The Porsche was comfortable and felt safe. The four airbags helped with that. I recall Alex’s sense of wonderment and mastery as she hit triple digits for the first time while we were crossing the wide-open Oregon plains on U.S. Highway 97.

It was the memories, not the car, that mattered.

I’ve abandoned, or at least modified, another fantasy with Bradley. When he turns 16, in 2023, I wanted us to re-create the road trip I took in a 1956 MGA in 1968. I tried to get to the Chicago Democratic National Convention and got as far as Colorado before the car killed itself. I was going to buy another MGA so we could set off for the heartland of America in a similar car, but that car would be almost 70 years old when we took that 2023 trip. I now realize that an incredible trip is more important than the car. If Bradley and I drove to the Midwest in a 10-year-old Miata or Boxster, the journey would be no less exciting for him. Would he be sad because he didn’t have to deal with a leaking top or a pathetic heater or wipers that didn’t wipe or the inevitable roadside repairs? I doubt it. When I asked him, he said, “I don’t care about the car, Dad, I just want to be with you.” So I have moved on in terms of the cars I am considering for us. And so have many of my cohorts. When we are looking for fun in an open sports car, there are many newer choices that provide all of the excitement with none of the drama of the cars from the 1960s. There is a reason that the prices of sports cars from that era have been flat or declining for the past decade. In just three years, I’ll start looking in earnest for a used sport car — from the modern era. There will be plenty of choices and no shortage of memories to be made. ♦

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