What to Drive

I preface this by telling you (well, those of you who have never met me) that I am a car guy. I make no effort to hide it. None. The joy the sound of macadam sliding beneath my wheels makes is only eclipsed by the thunder of gravel careening off the undercarriage.

I bleed 5W-30, I’m saying.

So when a photographer I like and admire writes a post about what to drive, I take interest. Stanley Leary’s choice makes perfect sense for him, but it might not be the right choice for everyone – as I love to say, it all depends.

For Leary, he hauls a lot of lighting gear around – many of his shoots are Big Productions, so the van approach makes sense.

If you live in a place where weather is an issue, you might be tempted to go the SUV route – four or all wheel drive is an absolute godsend when the going gets thick. But, again – all your stuff is in a big, open, easily accessible area. My security concerns pop up here – how worried are you about your stuff going on its own adventure.

(Aside: My good friend John Bohn drove a Toyota Land Cruiser for a few years when he worked in Boston, not exactly the safest parts of it, either. His solution: he found a company that made custom fit gun and rifle boxes that fit in the back and – here’s the genius – were carpeted on the top to match the interior of the truck. When you opened the rear, you found two big drawers that slid out. Light stands, tripods, long glass went on one side as I recall, the other had dividers for lenses, bodies, lights and other stuff. From the outside, it looked like the back of the truck was empty. Brilliant.)

For me, while I ran around in an all wheel drive wagon for a time and love the utility of hatchbacks, I want a sedan with a big, roomy trunk and a beefy lock. I want no evidence in the car of what I do and, if someone does decide to smash a window and steal a radio, the trunk release will be disabled. They’re going to have to crow bar that trunk to get to my gear.

Best car for securing gear I ever owned: 1987 Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor

Worst car for fuel mileage and winter handling: 1987 Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor

Best car I ever had for shooting up north: 1994 Audi 90 CS quattro sedan

Mark E. Johnson

2 Responses

  1. Good points about hiding your equipment. My van has really dark glass in the back and I really never drive around and leave the gear in the van. Just get there and unpack.

    What would be your dream vehicle with no gas issues or lack of funds?

  2. Given the need to get anywhere, at anytime, I’d probably want something with four wheel drive. The solution my friend found, with the gun cases sort of hidden in the floor of his Land Cruiser, was nice.

    Gas and environmental issues are a concern for me, not because of cost but because, well, I care about these things. If I could find or have made a custom gun locker for my gear, I would lean towards a Ford Escape Hybrid with all wheel drive. Would get me to 99% of the places I need to go with good mileage. Option two, if the lockers could be sourced, would be a Subaru Forester for essentially the same reasons.

    If the lockers can’t be found, a Subaru Legacy – big trunk, all wheel drive, great reliability and traction. Find a spec.B one and it’s even fun to drive …

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