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Stereotypes: The Granny Hatch

old lady driverUsually seen: In driveways or garages of little cottages or units, supermarket carparks in the middle of the day, outside charity shops.

Typical examples: Suzuki Swift , Fiat Uno, Honda Jazz .


(Disclaimer: although this car is referred to as a granny hatch, it could equally be driven by Grandpa. However, given the life expectancy stats for the sexes, it’s more likely that the lone elderly driver will be female.)

Granny hatchbacks are, of course, hatchbacks, usually of the three-doored variety, unless Granny has taken to breeding dogs in her semi-retirement, in which case she will have a five-door to let the doggies in and out. Even if she isn’t a dog breeder, there is a high chance that there will be something small, fluffy and yappy bouncing up and down on the rear seat when Granny is in the supermarket picking up the groceries.

Granny does her best on a small pension, so frugality is the name of the game.  When she does get down to the garage where the attendant will fill up the tank for her, she doesn’t want a nasty bill at the end of it, especially as she remembers the days when fuel was a lot less than a dollar a litre (the price of things these days….). The hatchback will have a teeny weeny engine and superb fuel economy – the engine size will never be over 2.5 litres. The granny hatch of today may be a hybrid or even an electric car. However, the granny hatch has probably been Granny’s faithful form of transport for years. In some cases, the car even has a name.

There is probably a pillow on the driver’s seat to supplement any lumbar support in the seats. Apart from this, you will not find much floating around in the cabin. Inspection of the glovebox and other storage compartments will reveal a very well-thumbed map that is somewhat yellowed and softened with age, with some bits rubbed off where the creases have been folded and unfolded for years. The map is probably also out-of-date and doesn’t have the bypass leading to the new subdivision on the edge of town. You will also find a packet of old-fashioned wrapped sweets, such as barley sugars or Lifesaver mints, a box of tissues and a few loose coins just in case. . If Granny is particularly old-fashioned, there may be a pair of driving gloves. Some cars have a strategically placed plastic bag for used tissues and sweet wrappers. Recent additions may include a doggy seatbelt to comply with the new dogs in cars laws in some states

When Granny passes on to a better world or becomes incapable of driving, used car salespeople will rub their hands in glee at the prospect of being able to sell a car that really has had one little old lady owner. However, prospective buyers ought to be aware that if this really is the truth, the engine won’t have had much hot running and the clutch has seen a lot of action and may be a bit worn.

Of course, not all grannies drive little hatchbacks.  My late grandmother bought herself an Alfa Romeo sports car when she reached her 70s.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get it in her legacy (I got the collection of vintage clothing).

Safe and happy driving,