Lester: Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird - the car I've always wanted, and now I have it. I rule!
This car is probably red, usually a convertible, always expensive and zippy, and necessarily driven by a middle-aged man. If he's been around for a while, this will be the first time he's shown any tendency to care about what he drives. It is almost always Compensating for Something.
Sometimes a motorcycle can fill the same function.
Very often becomes The Precious, Precious Car. Compare Cool Car (which generally comes with more weapons and gadgets and things), Hummer Dinger. Contrast The Alleged Car. Often referred to as a "Midlife Chrysler."
- Referenced twice in FoxTrot when both Roger and Andy were having difficulties with aging. In one arc, Roger got a toupee and Andy worried it was a sign of him hiding aging insecurities, mentioning this trope as another possible step. Later, when Andy turned 42 and had her own mid-life crisis, she briefly considered getting a Ferrari before she moved past it.
- Parodied in this cartoon from The New Yorker, currently illustrating the Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis trope.
- The Incredibles. Bob Parr buys a black sports car with the money he's earning with secret superhero work (the idea that he's going through a mid-life crisis is brought up in the movie). This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when he uses it to destroy Syndrome's plane at the end. Of course by that stage he's reconnected with his family, so it's not longer Compensating for Something.
- Bob is definitely showing signs of a mid-life crisis, but on the other hand ... prior to that he's a huge man driving a tiny car, so replacing that car once he can afford to do so is just practical. Replacing it with a sports car (as opposed to a sedan) is purely this trope, though.
- In American Beauty, Lester buys a 1970 Pontiac Firebird. He's not compensating for something, but rather pissing off his wife (who would later interrupt their first intimate encounter in years because she was afraid he would spill beer on her sofa).
- Albeit it wasn't originally bought with this trope in mind, the titular SUV Sharon from Venezuelan movie Mi Vida Por Sharon has become this for its owner.
- One of the more unpleasant characters in Cujo by Stephen King dubs this "sports car menopause".
- In the latter books of the Amber Brown series, Amber's father drives around a very fancy sports car that Amber's mother refers to as "your father's middle-aged-man-starting-over car." In Amber Brown Horses Around, it's revealed that it's a red sports car that he calls his Hot Tamale, though Amber's mother is now calling it the "Midlife Folly" as a snarky rhyme.
Amber: Sometimes I think it is no surprise my parents got divorced.
- In Robots and Empire, it is mentioned that older Spacers have a tendency to buy bigger and more powerful robotic servants.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- An old acquaintance of Agent Coulson tells him he's having a midlife crisis, what with the airborne mancave, renewed idealism, surrounding himself with attractive agents, and yes, the flying Corvette named Lola. Having just recovered from a Not-So-Near-Death Experience, he quips that it's "More of an afterlife crisis."
- A later episode has Coulson on the run, and when he attempts to buy a car, the seller immediately assumes he's looking for one of these.
- In Better Call Saul, Mike explicitly describes Daniel's circus wagonnote as one to Nacho.
- In an episode of Boy Meets World, Alan Matthews wants to get a midlife crisis motorcycle, but he eventually decides against it.
- Walt replacing his aging POS light green Pontiac Aztek with a new black Chrysler 300 in Breaking Bad is a (relatively) sensible example. In a straighter (though vicarious) example, he also gets his son a bright red Dodge Challenger at the same time (in season 4, he had earlier gotten Walt Jr. a different bright red Dodge Challenger, though that was specifically at Walt. Jr.'s instigation).
Walt Jr. (gesturing at a billboard): If you're going to buy me off, buy me off.
- Giles replaces The Alleged Car with one (a red, BMW M3 convertible) at the beginning of season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He claims it "seduced" him.
Spike: He's bound to have some kind of midlife crisis transport. Something red, shiny, shaped like a penis.
- In Californication, Hank Moody buys a Porsche after he earned some money from a writing gig. His agent Charlie Runkle is a bit worried though he should be used to Hank's irresponsibility by that time.
- Steve McDonald's midlife crisis dune buggy in Coronation Street. His wife Michelle is not impressed. Not at all.
- In an episode of The Cosby Show, one of Cliff's friends enters a mid-life crisis after his wife divorced him for being too boring. The first thing he does is go to the car dealership and try out the fastest, most expensive car they have. By the end of the episode he decides not to buy it though.
- CSI has an episode with Gil Grissom acting as though he's starting to go into mid-life crisis. Brass advises him, "Buy a convertible. It's cheaper."
- Doctor Who: In "Smith and Jones", Martha's father is driving such a car when he first appears, complete with a (much younger) girlfriend the script compares to a Big Brother evictee.
- Ross and Monica's father mentioned buying a Porsche when he turned fifty. A few seasons later he later gave it to Monica (as an apology for using the boxes with all her childhood relics to block flooding water in order to protect the car).
- Ross buys one of these. Too bad it's so small it gets stuck in the parking space and he spends most of the time trying to drive out. He also quickly abandons the car when an old, bald gentleman shows up driving the exact same car.
Old Guy: How cool are we!
- A female example: Joanna Clore in Green Wing asks a salesman which of two cars will make her look younger: the salesman deadpans, "Neither. They are just cars."
- In Leverage, the team asks Nate if he's buying a Mid-Life Crisis Car with his cut of their money, and mock him when he says he's getting an electric car. Then, he jumps into his Tesla Roadster, and they watch in awe as he drives away, agreeing that he's definitely having a midlife crisis.
- Political satirist Mark Russell, on one of his PBS specials in the 1980s, discussed the motorcycle version of the trope while joking about the number of espionage cases that had gone public in the recent past. Paraphrased, "It seems like these days, when guys hit a midlife crisis, they do one of three things: they acquire a mistress, they buy a fire-engine red motorcycle, or they sell secrets to the Russians."
- In Please Like Me, John's father buys himself a Porsche - despite his son and girlfriend mocking him for it.
- A variation in Red Dwarf. Kryten, a service mechanoid with a life expectancy of six million years, has a mid-life crisis at about three million years of age. While he does not buy a new car (impractical where he lives anyway), he does upgrade his chassis to a very goofy-looking "sporty" model.
- In an episode of Scrubs, Dr. Kelso comments that during his midlife crisis he bought an overpowered cigarette boat.
- Red from That70s Show buys a Corvette in the 4th season, which has been waiting 25 years to get because he had kids.
- In the TV Movie A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, the titular character taunts her soon-to-be ex about he should pose for the cover of "Midlife Crisis Magazine", citing his much younger (21 years old) new girlfriend, and of course, his flashy red sports car.
- Referenced in the song "Mid Life Chrysler" by Collin Raye.
- "He Got What He Deserved", a song in MID-LIFE! the Crisis Musical one of the ladies laments that her husband "traded in our mini-van / for a shiny sports car, naturally it's red."
- Aging crime boss Salvatore Leone buys one in one Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories mission, eagerly showing off his new "fully loaded, top of the line" sports car to Toni, and his moll, Maria, digs at him by claiming that she can smell Salvatore's mid-life crisis. Becomes a Brick Joke at the end of the mission when, on the drive back to Salvatore's, you'll find that he's already wrapped the car around a tree not far from where he was showing it off.
- Grand Theft Auto Online: One of the possible sports cars that you can steal in the Vehicle Cargo mission series is a Porsche 918 Spyder-Expy with the license plate M1DL1F3... well, at least it's (former) owner was honest about it.
- In Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Shutokou Battle 01, there is Sanjyushi, an entire gang of middle-aged men with souped up MLC cars in the Wangan area.
- As of The Sims 3's "Generations" Expansion Pack, Sims can have a Mid-Life Crisis once they reach adulthood. One of the wishes that can be triggered during their MLC is to purchase a new car worth at least 10,000 Simoleons, and doing so will earn your sim a lot of Lifetime Happiness points.
- Not to mention that the icons for both that wish and the Mid-life Crisis LTR are red cars.
- Early in Paper Mario: Color Splash, Mario encounters a Toad at Bloo Beach Bay who's determined to sail to the edge of the world. One of the other Toads thinks he's having a midlife crisis and tells him to "buy a convertible and be done with it".
- He'll never admit it, but the protagonist of this Fenspace story is flying around in a Mid-Life Crisis Spaceship.
- In hremail 2000, Homestar Runner claims that the signs that an old pair of sneakers are starting to wear out are the equivalent to "graying hair, buying a blue Miata and dating your graduate assistant".
- The Cinema Snob apparently has one picked out for when it's his time to have this.
"And I say that as a man who's already chosen his future automotive penis enhancer! Her name's Brenda, and she's a Chevy!""
- The Fairly OddParents!:
- Timmy's dad buys a cool car that he doesn't allow Timmy to ride in. Hilarity Ensues when Timmy wishes to be said car. The reason his father doesn't let him ride in the car is because it's VERY lacking in safety features, and while he realizes how dumb he's being by driving it around, he wouldn't endanger his son by letting him ride in it. So it's kind of cute, in a weird way.
- In the episode "Wishy Washy", Timmy's dad falls in love with it. His mom then tries to destroy it.
- Family Guy: Peter's car after he finds out that Chris is much larger than him in a certain... area. This whole sequence is a pisstake on the concept, with Peter's car being extremely phallic, him driving in and out of a tunnel repeatedly before the car gets crushed by oncoming traffic, and a group of cheerleaders giggling at him as he looks sad and mutters "Ow, my pride..."
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy lampshades this by calling it "The Hot Rod Stage" of Harold's midlife crisis. "Next stage is the Trophy Wife!"
- Stan's dad gets one in South Park when he and his wife divorce for the episode.
- The Finnish comedy cartoon Pasila featured a chronic speeder who drove a SUV big enough to fit another SUV in the trunk. He claims the car is not a penis extension, but constantly slips off the Freudian slope when he talks to anyone about it for any extended period of time.
- The Venture Bros. - after Rusty is called "old" he gets a 1970 Corvette, frightful "mod" clothes, and a ratty-looking wig in the episode "Mid-Life Chrysalis".
- Futurama: During Lrrr's midlife crisis we briefly see him trying out a small red hovercar.
- In The Simpsons' episode YOLO, Kirk van Houten gets a red convertible and tells Homer he signed up in a hip music course. Homer laughs at him, but later he suffers from a midlife crisis too and gets depressed.
- The Chevrolet Corvette: its owners are overwhelmingly white males between the ages of 40 and 69, with a median age of 53. The Corvette appeals to two demographics — high school and college boys who can't afford them (the rich kids who could afford one would go for something more upscale, like a Jaguar or a Porsche), and middle-aged men trying to recapture their youth.
- Unusually, the 1991-1999 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (the W140) as detailed on this page at The Other Wiki. It's often bought by people wanting to recapture their youth or relive a car the enjoyed in The '90s. Often, they'll go all out and buy the Mercedes-Benz S600L, which is highly expensive to run - it's got a 6.0-liter/402hp V12 engine. This may not typically be an example of this trope, but then again, they buy due to Mercedes-Benz brand image.
- Arguably invoked by GM's former brand marketing. Their plan was for their customers to age with the company, starting with a Chevy in their younger years and upgrading to a (now discontinued) Pontiac and then a Buick or Oldsmobile as they grow more established, finally retiring with a Cadillac. (In later years this grew more obtuse as more and more marques were added or discontinued; nowadays they just market the four remaining brands— Chevy, GMC, Buick and Cadillac— along very different lines.)