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Merriam Webster defines the “dad bod” as “a physique regarded as typical of an average father. Especially: one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular.” As a father, I resent the use of the word, “typical.” Anyone who knows me knows that my “overweight and not extremely muscular” body is unique.

America’s most trusted dictionary does not have a definition for “dad car” but if it did, I’m sure it would run along the lines of “four-wheeled automobile owned by a male who is easily aroused, but fails to think things through.”

Dads and cars. They go together like two objects that really go together.

Father’s Day lands on June 19 and it’s a chance to consider the relationship between our patriarchs and their automobiles. Dads have been known to have strong feelings about their cars. Take, for example, the text I received from my father (who drove a Celica in the 1980s) after I wrote a column proclaiming my dream car was the 1982 VW Rabbit I bought from my mother.

A text exchange between Andrew Clark and his father after Clark published a column about how his dream car was the 1982 VW Rabbit he bought from his mother.Andrew Clark/The Globe and Mail

(Emojis are in CAPS)

“What PERPLEXED FACE, SWEARING FACE how could you fantasize about a VW rabbit over a Toyota Celica? EDVARD MUNCH THE SCREAM


Like I said, strong feelings. Keep in mind this torrent of emotion arrived despite having written a column praising drives I took in said 1979 Celica.

There are plenty of articles that tell you what make and model to buy your dad for Father’s Day. There are articles that explore what “reliable, practical and safe” vehicles are the best dad cars. Rather than rehash this territory, let’s look at the men themselves - at the different types of “Car Dads.” After all, automobiles come and go, the dad remains the same.

Clean car dad: He’s not pathologically obsessed with having a clean car. He just believes having a car so pristine that it could be in a showroom is “easier.” Are you eating a sandwich? No problem, he’s not uptight about the mess. But maybe it would be easier for you to finish it and wash your hands before getting into the car?

New car dad: If you did the math, and factored in resale value, depreciation and the fact that he sells the old one himself, and, that he doesn’t spend money on lavish frills and hardly goes on vacation, you’d see that buying a new car every two to four years makes sound financial sense.

Quiet car dad: He’s concentrating on driving.

Cold car dad: Would you like the heat turned up? Of course, he’ll get right to that in a minute. No. He won’t. Ever. I encountered the most severe case of Cold Car Dad when, as a 15-year-old, I worked as a magician opening for Willy and Floyd (Bill Luxton and Les Lye) on their Christmas concert tours of the Ottawa Valley. Lye drove and he kept the driver’s side window cracked open. Seated in the back dressed in a top hat and tails, I froze. Lye and Luxton had served in the armed forces and did not seem to believe in heated automobiles.

Same car dad: He doesn’t only buy Fords. He just likes Fords. So, he buys them. Always.

Early adopter car dad: He bought a Tesla in 2012. His next vehicle will come with smart visors, in-car biometric technology, brain-to-car connectivity and augmented reality systems. And it will be in a colour as yet unknown to the universe.

Wishes he was riding his motorcycle dad: “Yes, my Toyota Siena is great, I can fit my kids and their friends and all their stuff but…” His eye is dressed by a single tear.

Divorce car dad: It’s the car of his dreams, if his dreams are a used car that he once shared with his spouse.

Philosopher car dad: He doesn’t talk that much about the meaning of life and why we’re all here, but stick a windshield in front of him and voila: Socrates!

He’s just hoping you’re considering grad school car dad: He’s just hoping you’re considering grad school, that’s all. Now, where did he need to drop you off?

Gearhead car dad: “So, this is a piston, this would have been out of the latter series engines, probably 52 or 53, you can see the rings are quite thick, and this engine was run to death, the ring lands are blown out, this ring was worked really hard and they also had four rings, they added a secondary ring at the bottom of the piston, you see another ring…”

Classic rock car dad: Did you know that the members of Van Halen were all classically trained pianists? Yes, you did, you learned that the first time he played “Panama” for you when you were five. But did you know that Eddie Van Halen couldn’t read music? Yes, you learned that the first time he played “Runnin’ with the Devil.” You can listen to any station you want so long as it starts with Q.

Have I missed one? Add your own Car Dad to the illustrious list.

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