Can’t you just smell the Virginia Slims from here?
Radwood helped make the otherwise-forgotten cars of the ‘80s and ‘90s cool, and brought a wider appreciation for the unloved machines that ferried our grandparents through the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. Quirky cars like classic Volvos and diesel Mercedes’ have always been popular with some enthusiasts, but the current TikTok trend celebrating “cigarette cars” tickles my sadistic side as I see young folks celebrating automotive outcasts.
Cigarette cars are old, run-down, and often rusty cars that folks love despite their glaring faults and looming demise. Cigarette cars exist on a spectrum, and there are no tangible qualities that are required for a vehicle to qualify as a cigarette car.
There are no strict requirements for a car to qualify as a cigarette car, it’s more of a vibe that a car embodies, and yes the Pontiac Vibe embodies the cigarette car vibe. A rusty Ford F-150 can be a cigarette car, a clapped out Lexus LS with peeling paint and a smashed headlight can be a cigarette car, any vehicle that’s looking worse for wear but still chugging on down the road is eligible for the venerable title of cigarette car.
This is a totally nonsensical trend, but I am glad that a movement exists to draw folks closer to their piles of wheeled junk. One of the best parts of owning a car is the platonic relationship that develops when you give your car a name and a personality– it becomes a part of your family, flaws and all.
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