39. The new car

Two weeks ago, we bought a new car. My old car was 11 years old; Carole’s is just eight. So we figured my car was ready to be put out to pasture. Just writing those words – I bought a new car – makes my heart beat faster.

I have a thing about new cars. Like most unhealthy obsessions in my life, it goes back to my childhood. I spend my adult life enjoying things I couldn’t enjoy in my kid life: sleeping late on Sundays, beer in the fridge, and sexy new cars.

My parents bought a lot of new cars, and they all had two things in common: they were practical (black-wall tires), and they were boring (AM only). (See Old Guy #30) We had a couple Hudsons. (Most of you have never heard of a Hudson automobile. For good reason.) We owned a Desoto station wagon with wood trim. And when the Chevy Corvair ushered in the compact car era with its bad-ass 4-cylinder rear engine, we bought one of the first. We Mitcheners have always been soooo ahead of our time.

Over the 50+ years I’ve been buying cars on my own, my purchase decisions have evolved. My first automotive device was a Vespa motor scooter, so that doesn’t count. In cars, I went from practical cars that did not embarrass me (FM radio), to more comfortable cars with some options (Remember when air conditioning was an option?), to the more recent very comfortable cars with some bells and whistles.

With the car we just bought, I crossed a significant automotive frontier. We bought a hybrid automobile.

As a card-carrying liberal, I’ve always felt guilty about driving 6-cylinder gas-burning automobiles. I thought I’d have to give up comfort and bells and whistles in order to drive a hybrid. (Okay, I admit it: I’m a selfish, myopic liberal.) Alas, that’s not the case anymore. The car we just bought – a Toyota Avalon Hybrid – gets 43 mpg, has plenty of space, and has more electronic gadgets than you can shake your iPhone charger at.

And I sleep more soundly now since I’m not contributing as much to snowcone glaciers.

My wife says that her cars are more practical. Her car has one purpose: to transport her safely and dependably from point A to point B. With some music, of course. And NPR. And air conditioning. Decent gas mileage. And maybe sunroof. When pressed, she agrees that she enjoys a comfortable ride and some bells and whistles, too.

So we’re both pleased with our new car, and look forward to comfortable, cross-country trips. I haven’t finished the owner’s manual yet; we may not have to drive the car at all. I think we can just set the navigation system for the address of our Los Angeles hotel, and then take a nap. It wakes us up when we get to the hotel.

Would you like to know how much gas is in the tank? It’s almost full… 7/8 of a tank. I have 187 miles on the car, and we won’t need gasoline for another 353 miles. All four doors are locked, windows and moon roof closed. And last night, we drove 17.4 miles roundtrip to our friends’ house for dinner. Are you wondering how I know all of that? I just checked the Toyota app on my cell phone. Cool, huh? When I figure out how to turn the radio on, I’ll be in good shape.

So, what will my next car be? I’m already looking at the 2031 models.

Maybe an all-electric car, to match our condo. A Tesla? Probably not. I have enough problem keeping my cell phone charged. Plugging my car in would be one more nightly chore: take out the trash, brush my teeth, plug in the car.

And I’d probably run out of charge in the middle of Death Valley in August. It’d be environmentalist karma for all the greenhouse gases I’ve emitted all these years.

2 thoughts on “39. The new car

  1. I remember your Vespa, Larry! You took me and Marty Ballou on it to buy a little Christmas tree when we were seniors at Mizzou. I caught glimpses of us in building window reflections – the middle person holding the tree -funny! I drive a 2002 bright yellow VW bug – world’s cutest car. Just turned 123,000. I will do whatever to keep it running. People smile at me in it and ask me in parking lots if the engine is still in the back…(not)

  2. (Note: This is Larry Mitchener. I’m posting this response on behalf of a neighbor.)
    Oh, that was good. Thanks for including me – it made an otherwise boring day better. Took me back to my first car – a used Chevy Bel Air hardtop and my friends called me Evy and her Chevy since I was the only one with a car and had to haul them around. Thanks again. I’ll check out your new car when I go to the garage.

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