It happened very quickly.
Jay, my oldest son, was shopping for a newer car to replace his dying (and uncool) Toyota Corolla. He invited me to look at a car he was considering. I drooled, and he yawned. The car was just not his style – but it did fit my age group rather well.
Heather, Rachel and I played around with the idea of replacing our Honda Fit that year-older German car – with very little difference between each sale price. Our discussion turned into action… within a week, the title was signed over to us.
But it has a manual transmission.
A few years back, I said that I’d probably not get another car with a manual – you know, it’s just too much work in any stop-and-go commute.
But the car was so nice. The previous owner had maintained it meticulously and kept complete service records. “Only Mobil 1 for oil changes.” I could tell he was not lying, judging by the condition of every part of the car.
After a few weeks of driving, I realize that the extra effort of shifting has faded into the background. I love it.
Don’t say, “never again.”
Jay and I went for a test drive in a 1967 MG Midget. He was the driver, as his 2001 Toyota Corolla burns a quart of oil for every two tanks of gas and it’s nearing time for a replacement.
We both were surprised at how small the car is – and at how 30 mph seemed like 70 mph.
Alas, a much newer car can be had for the same money – and one that wouldn’t need $500 worth of work to be road-legal.
But what a piece of history!
The intricate wire wheels aren’t available on any new car, regardless of price. The engine was so simple that it wouldn’t take an engineering degree to change the spark plugs. And what joy to drive a car that no-one else drives!
It was a marriage not meant to be. When the quick honeymoon ended, the heartaches would begin.
Epilogue: In a recent issue of Autoweek, a 1967 Datsun Roadster – a direct competitor – sold for ten times what the MG was going for.
From the perspective of a Denver dweller, where Porsche SUVs are as common as hamburgers, the Tesla Model X is a fairly rare sight.
They got the proportions wrong. It’s like a beautiful Model S that was injected with way too much Play Doh.
The strange “Falcon Wing” doors are way too complicated (and apparently a bit trouble-prone).
Sorry, I’ll pass. (But starting at about $95,000, I don’t have much choice in the matter.)
Photo courtesy of Tesla.
This quote, “Is there a 4WD in the range? Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t” is from Top Gear magazine.
Top Gear is more than a popular British TV show – it started as a magazine and expanded into television, garnering a far wider audience than the magazine could ever hope for.
Back to the quote – you would never read that in an American magazine, but it makes sense in a British context because:
- It rarely snows in the parts of England where people actually live.
- Fuel economy is a smaller deal in the States, since fuel is (currently) so cheap.
- To an American, owning a front-wheel drive crossover or SUV is like drinking decaffeinated coffee.
- Because of these two reasons, 2WD crossovers and SUVs are very hard to sell – think of selling bags of ice to Eskimos. So if you buy one new, you are dooming yourself to a larger loss of money when it comes time to sell it on the used market.
Having said all that, if you are in the market for a new car and don’t live in a place that gets a ton of snow, I would urge you to consider a car that is front-wheel drive.
I live in a suburb of Denver and have never owned a 4WD vehicle. We get an average of 57 inches of snow a year. In my 20 years of commuting here, I have only gotten stuck in snow about two times.
We bought a set of snow tires and wheels for one of our cars and even take it up to ski. We’ve never gotten stuck.
I’m not condemning anyone who has a 4WD or AWD vehicle. They’re great. I’m just asking you to consider a car if you are in the market for a different vehicle. And if you like off-roading, you can rent a Jeep.
That figure is what this Jeep owner paid to have gigantic wheels and tires. He (or she) sits head and shoulders above many of the teeming masses below.
Besides the added financial cost, they pay the price for this privilege in several other ways:
- Reduced fuel economy
- Increased road noise
- Reduced number of off-road trails that can be accessed, due to the massive width
- Reduced top speed
- Increased opportunities to end up head-over-heels, due to a much higher center of gravity
- Greatly reduced visibility out the rear-view mirror
- Inaccurate speed readings from the speedometer
- Scaring drivers that are faint of heart
Is it worth the extra cost? I’m sure the owner thinks so.
My take? Buy a large bumper sticker that expresses your individuality.
My vehicle? No added exterior content. No bumper stickers. (I express my individuality in other ways – like by writing this.)
Lincoln bought the emperor’s new clothes.
This ad appeared in the February 2017 Fast Company magazine (in a very high-priced spot – the inside front cover). Lincoln paid a massive amount of money for the ad series, shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Agency Hudson Rouge made out like a bandit.
But Lincoln did not think about their real audience. Showing a 20-something person behind the wheel of a $60,000-ish luxury car, newly-minted from a marque typically bought by people above 60, will not make 20-something people want to buy one. Nor will it make 60-year olds who want to be 20-something want to buy one.
No matter how much the critics like the car.
Yes, it would have been appropriate for Lincoln to push the envelope in their marketing – but not so far.
Maybe they should have put kids under 10 behind the wheel – that audience will need to buy cars, eventually.
Many of us are still trying to figure out how Mr. Trump won. Whether or not you like him and what he represents – or the Democratic party and what they represent – one thing is certain – we do not know what tomorrow brings.
Alfa Romeo is trying to make inroads onto our roads. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a beautiful high-performance four-door sedan. Car critics are praising it from their rooftops.
But American has largely abandoned the four-door sedan. As you know, crossovers (suburbia-biased SUVs) have taken over.
Conventional wisdom from car manufacturers dictates introducing a flagship top-of-the-line vehicle to generate excitement in America about other vehicles they have to offer.
I would like to respectfully disagree with that wisdom.
They should have launched an affordable but exciting small crossover. They will sell a crossover – the Stelvio. But it is priced in a similar range as the Quadrifoglio (more than $70,000) – out of the range of most Americans.
Start at the bottom and work your way up. It worked for Mr. Trump.
Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo UK – and used without permission. (If you live in the UK, go out and buy a Quadrifoglio now, and they will be happy.)
“Gray accent leather on the doors and the top of the instrument panel is called Porpoise, but, like other hides, it comes from land animals and not sea creatures” – from a Car and Driver article about the Bentley Continental GT V-8 S.
Why is it that the thought of someone killing porpoises for our use is more repellant than the thought of someone killing cows for our use?
When I was a kid, Flipper was a TV show about a friendly sea creature that came to the rescue of different people every week. Think Lassie in the sea.
I don’t know of any TV shows about friendly cows.
The quote about Bentley’s choice of an upholstery name made me think of the whole veganism culture and philosophies – one end of the animal rights spectrum. Porpoise killers might be the other end of the spectrum.
And then I thought of my friend who is a cattle rancher in Oklahoma. She loves her cows more than just about anybody I know. And yet she sells them to be slaughtered.
I don’t know how to reconcile all these things.
- The photo is courtesy of the Bentley website and is used without permission.
- If there are any modern TV shows starring animals, I wouldn’t know them, since I watch very little mainstream TV.
I love spotting the shiny bits – the things that pass most people by – the details.
(And that’s why I love hanging out with, living with and working with those who see the big picture. Contrast is healthy for our souls.)
In Fort Collins a few weeks ago, I spotted the back of this Honda. You’ll note it says “Fit” on the left and “Jazz” on the right.
In America, the smallest Honda is the Fit. It’s called the Jazz in the rest of the world. The owner of this car appreciated that fact enough to find a badge from both places.
I love it!!
(And I love Fits. We have one.)