November 19, 2009

Porsche? No thanks, I'll take the Element

I was hitting the art galleries in Chelsea Saturday when I came upon this eyesore. Who would paint their Lexus turquoise? That's one ugly car. To each his own I guess.

I haven't owned a car in 15 years. That's sort of sad and sort of nice at the same time. Think of the money I've saved on insurance, registration, tags, repairs, gas etc. etc. Previous to moving to NYC I owned a few nice cars and some clunkers bought simply for transportation. Some were expensive and others I got for as little as a few hundred bucks.
My love for cars began as a high school junior with my first car, a 1969 Chevelle SS396. Silver with black interior, bucket seats, Hurst 4 speed, fat tires, Cragar mag wheels and loud dual exhaust. A redneck's wet dream. I thought it was so cool back then and now I wouldn't be caught dead in it unless it was returned back to complete stock. It used to be my brothers but my Dad helped me buy it and I paid him back....or at least I hope I did. I loved that car and I drove it everywhere. It loyally took me on hundreds of road trips, short and long. Most of my friends had great cars too. Bruce had a Roadrunner, a Corvette and a Duster, Tom had a Roadrunner, Mike had a Firebird. Back then muscle cars were just old enough to be affordable and easy to aquire. My good friend Mike Breen and I took my Chevelle to Rehoboth Beach Delaware after graduation and I remember it had no reverse. We would pull into a parking space and then have to push it backwards when we left (I repaired it shortly thereafter). We were always under the hoods of our cars fixing something. My friends were much better mechanics than me and I recruited them for their help often. After the Chevelle I no particular order...a Ford Bronco, another 69 Chevelle SS (emerald green), Datsun B210 (with red door), Ford F250 4wd truck, Chevy Blazer (for 2 weeks), Corvette, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Dodge Colt, Nissan station wagon, Nissan 200sx and maybe a few others I can't remember. One of my first jobs was parking cars at a used car dealership (while I was working on my doctoral degree in physics). I couldn't do many things well but after a year of parking cars I could back a car into the tightest of spots without hitting anything. Such a skill. I decided to drop out of the doctoral program at Yale to pursue a career in valet parking.
My friends and I all drove like maniacs and drag raced pretty much every Friday and Saturday night. Cruising Rte 50 back and forth for hours like a scene from American Graffiti. It's truly a miracle none of us died in a fiery crash.
Cars were a status symbol in my town. Without a car you didn't have much of a social life, not to mention many dates. And, I've seen some major nerds elevate their status up many many notches solely due to buying a cool car (Brian Caras, Bob Anderson...sorry)
And now here I am renting a car a few times a year and getting excited when there's a Prius in stock so I can get that great gas mileage. Both me and my love of cars have become middle-aged. Now I dream of the day when I have a little minivan or a small RV where I can toss a bunch of cameras and a sleeping bag in the back and go somewhere to take photos. Given the choice between a Porsche or a Honda Element.... that's pretty obvious.

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