Driving a hot hatch in your sixties? Aged 18 but considering a Volvo? How old you are is crucial when deciding on a suitable car, says motor writer Rob Griffin.
There are times in a person's life when they have to face facts.
For some it's the realisation that denim makes them look like an ageing rocker.
For others it will be that they've become old before their time as they head to bed clutching hot water bottles.
These are wake-up calls – and it's no different when it comes to motoring.
My eureka moment
Unless you were lucky enough to buy a Porsche 911 on your 17th birthday, the chances are the cars you drove in your youth won't be suitable as you journey through life.
My eureka moment happened behind the wheel of my beloved Fiesta XR2, aged 25, when I saw a "yoof", aged around 17, in a similar machine. I realised it was time for a trade-in.
With that in mind, here is my take on what's suitable and what's inappropriate for different age groups.
In your 20s...
It's true that beggars can't be choosers, but being on a budget shouldn't mean you have to sacrifice style.
Consider: A Ford Fiesta – any type to be honest.
There are good reasons why it has topped bestseller lists so many times: it looks good, is reliable, practical and doesn’t cost the earth.
The new shape Mini is also über-cool at this age and affordable.
Avoid: If you do have a lot of cash avoid the temptation to drive around in an Audi.
Even if you've earned it yourself you'll just look like a trust fund kid.
Think TOWIE… see what I mean?
Steer clear of Skodas and Volvos too – they'll make you look too old.
In your 30s...
For many this will be the age of the people-carrier and a time when they take leave of their motoring fashion senses.
Consider: If you need a family car then opt for the Ford S-Max.
It looks good and can transport seven of you around efficiently.
If you've got cash to spare then a BMW, an Audi – ideally an R8 if resources are unlimited – or a little red sports car are worth considering.
Yes it's practical but need I say more?
Don't go for anything that ages you prematurely.
So, even if finances allow, steer clear of Jaguars or Bentleys – avoiding the latter also lessens the chance of being mistaken for a Premier League footballer.
In your 40s
A difficult age as picking the wrong car means you run the risk of being the mid-life crisis guy or gal.
Consider: An original hot hatch.
You can escape the sneers as these cars date from your youth so there's that whole retro vibe going on.
You can still get away with a Mazda RX8 (pictured) or Subaru Impreza, while if you have more to spend then an Aston Martin is the way to go.
Avoid: Anything too sporty as it looks like you're trying too hard to be young.
If you're a man then also avoid the little red convertible as you'll look like Noddy.
While I'm at it, the updated VW Beetle is never a great look but even less so at this age.
50s and older
You may have climbed high up the corporate ladder, your children have probably left home and car insurance is cheaper, so now's the time to indulge your motoring passion again.
Consider: An older Porsche 911 also falls into the timeless classic bracket.
A Jaguar, Mercedes or larger BMW will also be perfect.
If you still love tinkering under the bonnet then a sports car from yesteryear is still appropriate – think MGB.
Avoid: If you've had the same car for 30 years – especially if it's a Volvo estate – then sell it immediately.
Also - and again - step away from the red convertible.
It was questionable a decade ago but now looks frankly ridiculous. Hot hatches are also no-go areas.
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