As nice as some things are...

I'd really like a car that I can drive for 200 thousand miles and only change the oil regularly. It'd be really nice. Really.

As much as I love the 1997 LHS that we own, it's been a serious pain in the backside. Fuel o-rings, fuel rail, steering rack, ac head unit going bad, condenser failure, mechanics breaking the headlight doors (due to admittedly poor design)... the list is staggering. I'll give it that it's 10 years old. I just rolled over 80 thousand miles.

It has some great points. The sound it makes when you crack the throttle is just glorious. When you're on the interstate, the car just eats miles like candy. It has enough power for its size so you don't feel like the thing is a laggard when attempting to pass someone. It feels planted for something its size when you need to twitch it to miss that piece of tire that the semi lost. The body roll is noticeable, but not unmanageable.


It's getting to where the 20 year old Maxima with over 200 thousand miles on it is a more reliable car. And it's more fun to drive. It's Not quite as comfortable, but more fun. It'd be a hell of a lot more fun if I would dump the coin into it to get it right, but it's a 20 year old car with 200 thousand miles on it. Why bother for something that, realistically, isn't *that* much fun. If it were something really special, it'd be different, but it's a 20 year old Nissan Maxima with an automatic. My luck, I'd get it completely square and the engine would leap out of the engine bay, or the transmission would spread itself all over the interstate while I was driving it from a job site. Probably both at the same time. It's just the way my luck goes. I've come to accept this, and generally try to plan around it.

Bah. I still love my cars, but sometimes, they seem very fickle.


Misc. rumours floating that I find somewhat interesting:

The Kia project "Snowflake". Looks great, but it needs a hard top, and preferably a more powerful engine than Kia currently offers. Rear wheel drive or four wheel drive would be nice as well. I'd prefer to see rear wheel drive before four wheel drive, considering the power output of most of Kia's engines.

A rear wheel drive Hyundai Tiberon. An interesting development. The V6 that they put in the current Tiberon is not a complete slouch. Hyundai's quality control has been excellent over the past few years. Something to look into if you want an inexpensive sports car, assuming they put a real suspension under it.


Why can't the big three design beautiful cars anymore?

I'm going to step out of my pragmatic box, and tread on subjective waters for a little bit. Please bear with me. This is new to me.

Style wise, about the only thing that really moves me from any of the US manufacturers is the new Mustang (God, WHY did you not offer a real independent rear suspension! Optional even would have been nice!), the upcoming Dodge Challenger, the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro, and the Pontiac Solstice. The first three only because of nostalgia. I'm not really that excited about the Camaro. Too many angles. I begrudgingly put the Pontiac Solstice on here, but it isn't that unique: GM wanted a piece of Mazda's pie. I think the Miata does a better job of it anyway.

Don't get me wrong, the Corvette and the Viper are impressive cars, but neither one of them make me want to go out to the parking lot and say "wow, that's a beautiful car.".

It's been this way for a number of years too. Annoying as hell. If you want beautiful cars, you have to go to Europe. Most of them can't be brought here for one reason or another either, without some finagling from your Congresscritter.

Aston Martin. You name it, if it has that nameplate, it's likely beautiful. Been that way for years. Here's an excellent example.

Jaguar. Not quite as consistent as Aston, but still, a lot of beautiful specimens. Oh, hey, another example.

Alfa Romeo, Bugatti (check previous posts), Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, some of the Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi stuff... Many, many beautiful cars. Not all models from these manufacturers are beautiful, but they each offer one or two, some more. Some are even brought over here and approach affordable.

But not a single US made unit. It makes me sad, because we were the first to mass produce cars, but can't design anything that I'd really love owning, outside of "loving it for freedom". The US was the reason why cars really became a serious mode of personal transport. With the huge distances to cover, it was really not practical any other way. Horses and trains can only go so far.

It's not that we didn't know how to make them beautiful either. We did. Look at the 60's Corvette, most of the Dodge and Chrysler stuff from the 40s and 50s are beautiful, curvy, if a bit on the portly side. The Ford GT40 and GT are both gorgeous. The Chrysler Prowler wasn't bad either.

Now, it's Econoboxes (not even very good ones... The Ford Ka, available almost everywhere else gets almost 50 MPG from it's tiny engine and light weight. I don't think there's an econobox over here that gets close to that.), Trucks, or the nasty oversized station wagons called "Crossover Vehicles". Please. Please. I beg you, get something beautiful released over here. Preferably in rear drive and not costing over $80,000. I know that we have designers that can draw pretty pictures. Don't be afraid of trying to produce something like them.


Concerning my love of cars

Don't get me wrong. I love supercars, some of the hypercars are interesting, but my love of cars comes from something completely different than what many would think.

Second only to the firearm, a car represents freedom.

Without a car, your options from anywhere are as follows:
1. Walk/bicycle. 80-150 miles a day on a bicycle if you're a monster. Less than a quarter of that walking.
2. Public transport. Basically, you are relegated to where the line will take you, when it will take you. That line may or may not be on time, full, or otherwise out of service with or without notice.

With a car, you are liberated from both of these limitations. You are free to go where the road goes... when you wish. If you're adventurous, get a large off road vehicle and make your own path. Even to the North Pole. It's been done, in a heavily modified Toyota Hilux.

So even if I have to drive a Trabant for the rest of my life (God, PLEASE forbid), I will be happy, and I will love it. I will have the cheapest form of freedom that can be bought: The freedom to go. Where I wish, when I wish.

Well... in a Trabant, it's kind of iffy, but you get my meaning.