I’ve long had an attraction to songs about cars from Beep Beep by the Playmates to Drive My Car by the Beatles to Cars by Gary Numan (the instrumental opening is often running through my head) to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, the songs have often held sway. Heck, I’m listening to that Rik Osacek group even as I write this.
Yet, I’ve never actually been interested in actual cars, and I don’t know cars. Few questions do I duck if I can at work, but ones about motor vehicles -unless it involves statistics or regulations – tend to make M.E.G.O.
At least when I was a kid, I knew that all the Chevy cars started with C, such as Chevette and Corvair, and even I knew that Ford made the Mustang (“ride, Sally, ride”). Now, if you give me a car model, my chance of correctly identifying the make is about 1 in 5. Maybe. I loved the VW Beetle because it was SO easy to identify – the old one, not the new one – but I knew people who could tell the difference between the 1964 and 1966 model, e.g., unfathomable to me.
My wife has had this 1997 Ford Taurus since she was working for a credit union association, traveling all over the Northeast. When she left in early 1999 to go back to school – and not so incidentally, to get ready to marry me – she bought the car with 50-something thousand miles on it. It continued to serve her, and us, well.
But somewhere north of 120,000 miles, small things started taking place. First, a lot more dings, and a little rust, then more substantial things (don’t ask me what – she told me, but I have no memory of car stuff).
So, it came to pass that Carol found herself in the market for another car this fall, when a series of knocks, electrical problems, and notably a gas leak would cost about $2000 to fix.
My wife began studying cars with the passion I associate with a horse racing handicapper. Not one generally known as one to use the Internet, except as it specifically applied to her job, she was spending so much time online that it was becoming difficult for me to even blog. (Horrors!) She looked at Carfax, the Kelley Blue Book Cars.com, Enterprise Car Sales, plus dealers’ websites.
She went to at least three dealers, test drove at least a half dozen cars. She asked if I wanted to go along. Not particularly. I DID care about how much it would cost, but she is the far better fiscal agent in the household, so I pretty much trusted her to determine what kind of car she wanted and whether we could afford it.
Ultimately, in September, she bought her first non-American car. Truth is, I simply cannot remember the model with remembering that it has something to do with Bryan Ferry – oh yeah, the Avalon. By whomever. And it’s a good car.
There’s a part of that old Taurus that I think Carol misses, though. And even I was a little sad to discover that the Taurus is no longer being made. How the most popular car turned into an automotive also-ran would be astonishing to me if I understood cars at all.
And we BOTH have the problem that if we didn’t have the ability to use the remote unlocking mechanism and/or be able to see the license plate number, we STILL wouldn’t really RECOGNIZE our own car in the midst of other vehicles of similar color and shape.