Friday, November 17, 2006

To drive or not to drive

There is a guilty secret in my life. Cars. Vehicular transport. Gas Guzzling monstrosities. I’ve owned more than a few, been a major contributor to the auto industry really. I've also done more than my fair share towards CO2 increases. In my teens and early twenties it was motorcycles, started with a moped, moved up to a scooter, then essentially got given an old Triumph that lasted all of six months before it fell apart (literally). When I got my first job out of uni my indulgence started.

Car number one was an aged but very sporty Toyota Celica. A hot hatch, or at least I thought. Since then there’s been twelve others that I can call my own. This doesn’t include my indulging the passion through LL (who’s only had three, three!) and a couple of cars bought for the nanny.

I’ve liked different cars for different reasons. At a rough time in my life I had a brand spanking new Jeep with a soft top. For those unfamiliar with North American cars think of a WWII movie where the US soldiers drive about in an open topped car, that’s a Jeep. I drove myself around North and Central America in that Jeep. There’s lots of fond memories of that car.

For a while I owned a venerable Jag XJS. There was this monster of a six litre, V12 engine that purred like, well… a jaguar. The least tap to the accelerator and it would roar to life and press you back into the seat. However, if you sneezed, something fell off. I spent double on maintenance that it cost to by the dear old thing.

There is an early version of the Audi A4 Quattro in the list. Not the most inspiring of cars to look at, but it was a real pleasure to drive. I had a horrible experience with a Ford Explorer, one of Ford’s 4x4’s. It was a company car I agreed to take for a year on the remaining lease. There was nothing pleasurable about driving that car. It drank petrol like you wouldn’t believe, I think it maybe got 10-15 miles to the gallon. Handled like a wallowing hippo.

Now though, I’ve got a quandary. The nanny currently has a Ford Focus. Great car really, handles well, top marks in the crash tests, good fuel economy, nice little engine under the bonnet. Thing is, the kids have outgrown it, or more the laws have forced it to be outgrown. Can’t fit three car seat along the back, and you can’t turn off the airbag to allow one to go in the front.

My current car is a nice big chufty BMW. One of my top three cars. Handles better than the Jag, and its engine is nearly as good (despite being a diesel and getting amazing milage (does better mileage than one of those Prius thingies)). We’ve figured out a safe way to deal with the car seats in the back, and in a pinch a child can be allowed in the front seat. So, that means we don’t have to get people carrier (hurrah!).

But that means the nanny gets the bmer during the week. I have self examined and cogitated, and turned myself around 20 times. Though my ego in most things is a rather robust and strong one, I just can’t quite bring myself to trade the bmer for a focus. Sad, isn’t it?

So, I’m going to trade it in for a Smart car instead. If I’m going to have to downsize I’m going to completely downsize. Thing is, it will save heaps of money. Seriously. Smart cars get parking for 50% off at my station. Plus it positively sips petrol, does 60 miles per gallon. On top of that its insurance class 1, so you pay next to nothing. I get a car that’s cute even if it doesn’t handle particularly well, and I can assuage my sore ego by all that lovely dosh I’m saving.

However, LL had to promise I could get a Porche or Jag when the mortgage is paid off…


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