Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cars: Old and Older

Note: Contains reference to a racist sports team name.

I bought my first new car in 1996. I was a Saturn, medium red (not to be confused with the regular red which resembles what is called fire engine red). My Saturn was manual - they had tried to talk me out of that at the dealership since my commute was, at the time, relatively short, but I had already been driving a manual and liked the control. And later it turned out when people I really didn't know thought they could ask to borrow my car, I could reply passively that it was manual. fortunately the combination of able to drive manual and willing to ask people I barely know if I can borrow their car, never seemed to intersect.

It had power windows and power lock (an improvement over my previous car). And it was mine. I drove that car to work. I drove it down as far as Williamsburg, Virginia and as far north as Providence, Rhode Island. It forgave me for that little problem when I didn't get the oil changed fast enough and was only in one real accident. We were rear-ended by a tow truck. Fortunately, we were at a stoplight so while it required some pretty work to get the trunk back to it's original shape, there was nothing too serious. I got harassed on the Beltway by a crazed Dallas fan, since I had Redskins stickers on the bumper (and later an antenna buddy). But really my car did well.

And then little things started. I don't want to focus too much on the negative, but there were some things. The speakers on the passenger side went out. The seal on the passenger side doors started to peel make things a bit breezy. The alignment was off just a tad. So, after ten years, I felt like maybe it was time for my car and I to part ways.

I announced this plan around February to my co-worker. Yeah, February. It took a little longer than I thought for the alignment of planets decision, price and money to converge. I had been thinking hybrid for a while. I talked to people who owned Priuses and Civics - all very happy. I noticed that the civic hybrid only came it what I feel are non-colors - silver, silver blue and silver green. Blah. Perhaps now is when I should mention that my brother and sister have both - independently - purchased very different cars that share one thing - the color silver. My brother of course commented at a holiday gathering, that really I should get a silver car. To which I responded, yuck, never gonna happen. So the fact that the Prius came in colors - blue and red - appealed to me.

Then I did some more research - I swung back and forth between Prius and Civic. I checked insurance rates - pretty comparable. I looked at car sites - narrowing it down to two places that consistently seemed to have them. (I had decided to buy used which narrowed my choices a bit. I had in fact planned to buy used when I got my Saturn but at the time ABS brakes and airbags were new and therefore optional, so it ended up making sense to buy new.)

All this led to me driving into a dealership last Thursday - just to look. And ended up with my driving away in my new (to me) Prius. It has all sorts of cool stuff - they have made great advances in design in the last ten years. Oh and the color - it's silver.