Sunday, March 30, 2008

Smart and Pretty

I'd really rather not own a car. They are difficult to enjoy. Their traffic, noise, gasoline and price conspire to mute the excitement I should feel having received word yesterday that my new Smart Car has been delivered and is ready for my acquisition.

Not a moment too soon. My 1999 Toyota RAV4 LX is showing symptoms of mysterious distress. When I turn it on for its first excursion of the day, it coughs up a puff of white smoke from the exhaust pipe. This only lasts a second or two and is not repeated in the course of the day. (I see no need to bring it to a repair shop. Afterall, my Vatican-based sense of mechanics tells me that white smoke is better than black smoke.) Parked as it is with an ocean view after years of triangulating to Montreal, New York and Provincetown, it can hardly be blamed for not wanting to move. This car has been entirely reliable but it's time to hand it off to some young-tuff who will find the latch to the hood and be not afraid to replace its internal organs as they fail with parts scavenged from junk yards. It has given me 160,000 miles. He'll easily get another 100,000 out of it.

No one ever called my RAV4 beautiful, but it has four-wheel drive that laughs at new snow, and the kind of alert brakes that have saved me thousands of dollars and aggravation from fender-benders averted in city traffic. Retractable sunroof and seats of pure leathuh. Best mileage of all the SUVs.

I was reading about last week's auto show in Manhattan. The freshly "redesigned" Nissan Maxima was unveiled.

Sorry. That's not a design. That's a non-design. A blob typical of most cars these days. I don't understand why people accept the fact that new cars are mostly indistinguishable, one from the other. Day was when you could tell a Ford from a Chevie, and you could align yourself with one particular make that appealed to you. Day was when the annual unveiling of new models was thrilling.

For instance, here is the most beautiful car ever built, the 1964 Buick Riviera in "marlin blue".

Here's a 1958 Riviera. Not at all bad. Each part invites your caress, and you can see how greatly the design evolved over a few years.

Here's Buick's "concept" for future Rivieras. Eh. They would build this in China where the Riviera is now selling in greater numbers than in the USA.

The luxury of an urban landscape graced with elegant older cars is just one more reason why I am packed and ready to swim over to Havana once it opens up. Meanwhile, this is how I've specified my new Smart Car.

It looks like a running shoe. And it's not much larger.


Gavin said...

When the news media was covering the initial shipments of the Smart a couple of weeks ago, I remembered that you said you'd put in a down payment and wondered if that was still in the works. cars and car shows give me a boner. :)

Anonymous said...

When are you picking it up? I want to see it, and how you fit in it. It looks so tiny, that I can't get my head around it. Do you have enough head and leg room?

circleinasquare said...

Smart Car!

Tony Adams said...

Tater, I test drove one last year. It's just as spacious as a normal car. I have to collect it within a month or I'll lost my reservation.

tornwordo said...

A friend of mine has one. Yes, amazingly roomy for the size. And parking, oh my god, the parking opportunities are everywhere.

Stash said...

It's really cute.

Michael Lehet said...

Congrats, I saw TWO of these (well not the convertibles) in the wild this weekend!

BigAssBelle said...

how cute! it looks a little like my sweet little mini. i love teensy cars and always regret having to drive my bigass pickup.

Anonymous said...

In this case, white smoke isn't preferable to black smoke. Your RAV4 is burning oil. It probably needs a valve job or new piston rings, which it will likely never receive. And it will still be running after another 100,000 miles if the next owner keeps the oil topped up.

Tony Adams said...

Dear DavidLBC,
Thank you! I was hoping someone would stop by who would diagnose the problem. It doesn't happen every day. I find that odd. At least now when a potential buyer stops by, I will be able to speak truthfully about what it needs.

willam said...

Tesla, much? Yes please!