What kind of car should an architect drive?


Just commented on dressing-the-part and wondered about driving-the-part. I’m a car nut so I may not count but doesn’t it matter? In reading past threads on dress I guess I wasn’t surprised that about 50% of the posts had rather relaxed ideas about dress. I suppose this translates to cars and even the type of houses architects live in. This idea that so long as I’m producing good work nothing else matters seems to have some population. Well I submit that it does matter. Would you invest your money with a financial advisor that drove a junk car?

I realize that there is a matter of economics involved but shouldn’t we dress-the-part, drive-the-part, live in-the-part and overall be-the-part?

Interested to know from you - what kind of car do you drive and/or type of car an architect should drive?

Sep 9, 14 11:56 am

the one you can afford !

Sep 9, 14 11:59 am

A Saab or a Volvo. Duh.


Not brand new, but also not an old junker. It should be black or grey and probably a station wagon. 

Ideal architect car is a Volvo V70-R in anthracite grey with tint. It says you are practical but also appreciate performance and looks, you are safe and will build safe buildings, but they will also look nice. 

Sep 9, 14 12:05 pm

Here in the detroit area you can get a nice looking used jag pretty cheap.

I don't meet with clients at all so my malibu maxx suits me just fine for transportation

Sep 9, 14 12:10 pm

I realize that there is a matter of economics involved but shouldn’t we dress-the-part, drive-the-part, live in-the-part and overall be-the-part?

Emphatic yes.

My car is a 2006 Mazda Miata convertible bought used off my father.  It's ALL about the driving experience.  I've never driven a car more satisfying, so I don't care that it's not a black BMW. And if it's above 50 d. and sunny, the top is definitely down.

Added benefit: it's small, and I'm tall, so when I unfold out of it I can make a stronger first impression on those contractors I'm about to keep in line. ;-)

Sep 9, 14 12:10 pm

Owned my first car from 2001 until a few weeks ago. 2000 Honda Accord sold at 155,000 miles, Cost = $0(gifted). Kept it in fantastic condition and clients respect someone who maintains their vehicle, even an older vehicle.  

I recently purchased my second car from a family member, 2002 Mercury Cougar >70,000 miles, Cost $1. Again in great condition inside and out. 

My primary transportation to and from work is my bike. Cost $475 w/ extras.

Clients really don't care what you drive. If you explain how you meticulously maintain an older vehicle instead of blowing your cash on a new BMW every 3-4 years then they are more likely to believe that you will be a good steward with their money as well.  

Jeep is exactly right. 

Sep 9, 14 12:11 pm

i like the minimum ornamentation of the Audi TT

Sep 9, 14 12:11 pm

Jeeps have the gas tank aft of the rear axel and tend to explode when rear-ended. Jaguars are now owned by the Indians and Volvo is owned by the Chinese. Audis are hideously overpriced and so cheaply made I couldn't believe it was German (I had one).

Sep 9, 14 12:49 pm

how I (and half my office) commute to work:


In terms of practicality, I really like the honda fit - it's a tiny car you can put a huge model in - not really an "architect" car, but a good city car.


although - my years of working on urban projects in older congested cities have led me to believe that personal cars (and requisite parking) are huge wastes of space.  so - I think architects should use car-sharing as much as possible.

Sep 9, 14 1:29 pm

Given the opportunity I prefer to use public transportation, and would encourage you to do the same.  It's a hell of a lit more stimulating riding the bus or train, than being alone in your car.  However, I feel a car should fit your personality and hobbies more so than your chosen profession.  When in California I surfed skied, so I had a small pickup I could throw my stuff in the back and go.  When in the Pacific North West I got a small SUV with a ski rack because it could haul more stuff without things getting wet.  Now that I'm in a place with neither oceans or snow I'm kind of having a hard time getting excited about anything.  That new Miata really looks nice though...

Sep 9, 14 1:47 pm

On the roughly two days a week I'm able to bike commute I embrace my utter dorkiness and enjoy my BikeE. Mine's blue, and again, it's all about the driving experience.

Sep 9, 14 2:13 pm

BMW M5...y'all jeally

Sep 9, 14 2:34 pm

Carrera frontin with the old dude attitude again. 

I don't want to be Don Draper, suits and ties, fancy cars, overpriced shitty condos?  

To me, it is just a bunch of showmanship that doesn't really amount to much besides conforming to some dated, preconceived idea as to what a professional should act and look like.  I am of the generation that just made it through the recession (luckily employed the whole time).  That has shaped what I want to spend my money on.   Yea, I could get some fancy ass car, but I would rather double up on my mortgage payments and save for my kids college education.   

Sep 9, 14 2:45 pm

chigurh, it's totally not about showmanship, it's about making considered choices about every aspect of how you build your life.

Jefferson is clearly proud of and comfortable in his/her BMW.  I'm just *not* a BMW person, so I woudl never drive one, as it's just not in keeping with how I live and thus present myself to the world. A Miata is perfect for me, as it's a cheap car but with a great driving experience, which puts a smile on my face, and I like things that make me smile.

It's about personal style, not showmanship. Style can be super cheap, but it has to be considered, aka designed.

Sep 9, 14 2:51 pm

Why do I have the vision of an architect in a cashmere sweater, dress pants, and highly polished shoes trying to drive his shiny BMW to a remote, muddy building site where he dons a hard hat and tries to act like he has a clue? Civil engineers generally dress in khakis or blue jeans, polo shirts, chukka boots and drive a pick-up truck ( the better to pull the architect's BMW out of the mud).

Sep 9, 14 3:06 pm

If you are choosing to drive a specific car or dress a certain way to develop a personal style that is great.  

I think Carrera is talking about dressing and driving the part to project some idealized image to clients, builders, consultants...that is totally about showmanship.  It is just a check box.  I don't care what kind of car my financial advisor drives...I've never even met the guy face to face he is halfway across the country, he invests my money and does a good job.

Sep 9, 14 3:15 pm

I drive a Subaru Outback.


My dad (architect) drove a ford ranger pickup.


They both do the job, who cares what they look like (or drive). We selected them based on function. Form, while considered, followed the needs of function.

Sep 9, 14 4:31 pm
Subarus are super-functional cars. I've enjoyed every Subaru I've driven, and my husband has one now.
Sep 9, 14 4:54 pm

I drive my Subaru Forester to the job site. Love everything about that car...

Auto eines architekten.

Sep 9, 14 4:58 pm

I had one... 240D... best car I ever owned


Chigurh, I think you may have misinterpreted the question/statement; I’m not talking about “stylin” around in a Caddy - on the contrary…..I think Donna has it right here, it’s a matter of looking like what you are. While I guess I could afford more I drive an Audi A4 Quattro (station wagon) and wear an M&Co. watch that cost 100 Bucks - because of the reasons stated by Donna and archanonymous’ ideas about a Volvo. You are not alone in your thinking but making tasteful and prudent design decisions is what we do and reflecting that in ones personal choices is an important consideration.

I don’t think you need to buy new as said and with many cars not changing style that often anymore you can keep one for years….just keeping it clean says a lot.

Donna, thank you for your comments which should be learned from….I had a Honda S2000 and could still get that little ribbon of hair I have left to blow in the wind.

Sep 9, 14 5:22 pm

Black Subaru Impreza. Quick, Nimble yet classy. No no, Im not describing myself...

Sep 9, 14 7:14 pm


Sep 9, 14 7:40 pm

Miles…classic! Is it yours? You offer a perfect option for an architect – buy a classic car. One could even pull off an old classic Cadillac. I started an architectural glass business with an old friend who ran it and instead of buying a $46k pickup for him to run between jobs we bought a 1949 Ford pickup, all original, for less and had our logo/name hand drawn/lettered on the doors – said everything about us.

Sep 9, 14 8:07 pm

'81 280E. Drives beautifully and fits me perfectly: stylish and well-built. 

I try to use a bicycle around town.

Sep 9, 14 8:47 pm

2-door chevy

i should be in this

but i'm not

Sep 9, 14 8:55 pm
won and done williams
Not a big fan of the M5. I like the 328i xdrive wagon. I've driven a lot of cars and nothing can touch a BMW. Audi and Volvo are cheap in comparison.
Sep 9, 14 9:31 pm

Now, that's what an Architect needs.

Sep 9, 14 9:58 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

architect's i worked for in the past, a few examples

Sep 9, 14 10:35 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

oh, and the architect who owned the Porsche also had one of these.  it was a form of payment from a developer that owed him money - at least that's what he told me.  his wife would not let him drive it, supposedly.  he drove me home once in his Porsche...he made sure I experienced the car  do 0-60mph in 4-5 seconds...

Sep 9, 14 10:42 pm

Carrera your comment about the old truck inspired me to post my husband's shop truck for his fabrication business - one of 3 shop trucks, but this one has the most personality.  This is an old picture; it has since been updated with a custom push bumper made of a 2x8, striped.


I like LITS4FromZ's comment about maintenance - an older classic car but kept in great shape actually tells people a LOT about who you are and what you care about.

Sep 10, 14 11:17 am

Silver 4Door Toyota Tacoma. The drive is 1.5 miles so gas isnt bad at all.

Anyone else drive a pickup?

Sep 10, 14 12:12 pm

I've got a Taco for the build side. Third and least favorite Toyota, 4 recalls and a complaint to NYS attorney general before it got straightened out. And it rides like a brick. Actually I think a brick rides better.

Donna, that's waaaaay cool.

Sep 10, 14 1:45 pm

Porsche Carerra

Sep 10, 14 1:54 pm

^ If an architect pulled up to a design meeting in that I'd tell them to get back in it and drive away.

Sep 10, 14 1:57 pm

a stolen car

Sep 10, 14 2:02 pm

I think that picture is actually a 918 Spyder and at $845,000. a pop I don’t think you will see an architect pull up in that at a meeting. A 911 is a good choice – the older the better. Saw a ’84 on eBay for $20k…many around 10 years old for under $30k and a 2003 Carrera for $30k.

Sep 10, 14 3:33 pm

An architect or small firm might need one of these for the travel....

The RV (not a lemon but a working one... of course).

Sep 10, 14 3:42 pm

Um guys, I cannot believe no one has stated the obvious:


Sep 10, 14 4:26 pm

Yes, this ^^. I'm going to replace both of our cars in the near future with Teslas.


I knew a Realtor that had something much smaller all wrapped with advertising that he used for house-tours and to sign-deals…it went by the wayside, I think people felt creepy riding around in the thing. I also knew a builder that had something similar but every time I saw it all the window curtains were closed…I think he was using it to bonk his mistress on the side.

I thought of converting a stainless Air Stream into an architect’s job trailer which would be cool.

Airstream Flying Cloud travel trailer exterior

Sep 10, 14 4:36 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

Would love to own a Tesla....I prefer at the moment pulling up in the old Toyota Camry just so they know my fee is low and fair.

Sep 10, 14 5:24 pm

My stable:  BMW M3, 300zx Twin Turbo, IH Scout II, Datsun 240z, and a Land Rover 88 project car.  I think of them as accessories to suit my mood. 

The one that I think screams 'architect' the most though is the classic Land Rover.  Just so much about the design I can appreciate and detest; it's both good and sinister... So if you are a believer in 'form follows function', it's a marvel of panelized construction and materials so you only need 2 tools to rebuild it.  Then even deeper marvel at the lunatics who put it together with a apparent strong belief in the mystical ... regular sacrifices to the Lucas gods must be made lest you try and sort out why every single wire is white and like finding the right white wire in a tangle of thousands of other white wires.  Mystical powers needed as well as minds that can see in abstract big picture terms.  So yes, your brake light electrical should be routed through the headlights after passing through the loom of wires... it all makes such sense when you start thinking Kidney and Pudding work together as well.  Also explains felt as gasket material and steel won't rust if unprotected if 'you believe hard enough', etc... 

My sad one:

Sep 10, 14 6:21 pm

i used to have a bike (rode it to job sites and walked the site in bike shoes)

now i have a full sized truck (drive it to job sites and walk the site in truck shoes)

surely there's a happy medium in there somewhere; i just haven't found it yet

Sep 10, 14 6:46 pm

^ Put the bike in the back of the truck.

Sep 10, 14 7:56 pm

Somewhat similar to your Landrover, mightyaa, the car I learned to drive on: Toyota Landcruiser FJ40:

I would SO love to have one of these again, but well-restored FJ40s are going for $50k these days!

Sep 10, 14 11:53 pm

I love those FJ40's Donna...

Another ride I have.  First car I bought was a Scout, so I got another.  My teenaged son is driving it now...

Sep 11, 14 9:59 am

My dad traded in his similar Scout for the FJ! Cars match personalities, it seems. And a recent study shows that people *do* tend to choose cars that look like their own face. Science!

Sep 11, 14 10:08 am

Furthermore, not only did cars resemble their owners, but cars also resembled the owners’ dogs

Looks like my next car will be a Greyhound Bus.

Sep 11, 14 10:19 am

My dad traded in his similar Scout for the FJ! Cars match personalities, it seems.

Actually, I sort of use it backwards like a fashion accessory.  Who do I feel like I want to be today?  Then I pick the clothes and car...  A tie day doesn't work with the Scout, but fits the M3 just fine.  The Scout though is popular on a jobsite.

My Dad, also a architect has been questioned about his choice in cars (expensive).  His response was "Would you rather work with someone who is successful enough at business that they can afford it, or someone who can't and struggles?"

Also got a kick out of one of the local star architects.  He owns Ferrari's and Maserati's.  But he drives a Ford Taurus everyday to work.  I was chatting with him one day about it.  The basic fear is the image he gives the employee's.  He doesn't really want them knowing he can afford such toys, so he drives the same company cars as them.

Oh, my company cars... Thinking of trading both in for a Tesla when business picks up again. There are perks to being king:

I've heard the faces things and dogs.  Hmmm.... Mastiff's here.

Sep 11, 14 10:34 am

Oh and lol.... Also note the usual preference in 'black' color that architects tend to choose. :P

Sep 11, 14 10:36 am

i knew a guy who ran a home design business on the side, he had his business name put on his everyday car, unfortunately it was a p.o.s. toyota carolla, I could never imagine anyone hiring the guy based seeing that thing drive by.

Sep 12, 14 12:55 pm

Get the job first, keep the job, then concern yourself with what kind of car you want to drive.

Sep 12, 14 1:32 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: