American Rides

We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled programing. A friend has commented some concern as to the direction this blog has been taking recently, and as Fashion and Love have been my past two topics of monologue, I am inclined to agree that a dosage of testosterone is in order. With that having been said we move on to a field that until recently I had cared about less than your average guy; Cars.

Now don’t get me wrong, I grew up with Hotwheels and Matchbox cars like everyone else (I remember a metallic blue racer that was totally ‘wicked sweet’) and really liked any enjoyed the tracks  you could put them on to race against other’s. I enjoyed games like Burnout 3, with its crash mini-game to rack up thousands of dollars of property damage, though I still am horrid at the actual racing aspects of car games. But “He’s Just Not That Into You” applied to me. Cars were something to get you from point A to point B in something less than a few hours of walking.

I was wrong. Cars are more than just a mode of transportation, they are an expression of yourself, a political statement, an object of patriotism, and just plain fun. Some mix therein for people of whom cars hold meaning at least, there are people for whom a car ignobly preforms the purpose of point A to point B. These people should take the bus.

I learned to drive on my mother’s Explorer, a giant beast of the “Soccer Mom,” a title that does nothing to fully express the amount of work she did for my brother’s and I growing up. Before she’d had a minivan and station wagon (which I’m sure has at least $20 in quarters under the speaker grills in the back.) For her, it was the only thing big enough to cart around four growing boys, a single friend, herself and my dad to any family trip, such as Church (though dad always drove when he was in the car.) As an added bonus, it could carry a lot of stuff with it, and could support more on the roof. The thing also has a fair beast of an engine, which I’m sure she enjoyed when towing stuff around. The Explorer symbolized the family for her, and said “I need something bigger than a sissy little minivan and more practical than a ‘Swagger-wagon’ and I don’t care that I’m now large enough to need binoculars to see a little car in the lane next to me.”

But for me, it was just this utterly ridiculous tank that turned horridly, never had the right radio stations saved, and held a number of frustrated groans after another day of dad trying to teach me to drive. I did indeed eventually learn and later passed my test with dad’s Passat, complete with a turbocharged V4 German engine. For my dad, it was a car that was kinda sporty (see the turbocharged engine) and yet also conservative enough for a paster to be seen owning. And it is a fun car to drive, having taken it to Fresno in the past and driving home, I had to change the music to keep myself from speeding. Its just fun and easy, and with a car that small you can really almost feel like you’re racing as you turn at higher speeds. For me, its a vehicle with the purpose of getting  you somewhere and having fun at the same time, or getting nowhere and having fun at the same time.

After getting my license I was given my dad’s old ’95 Ford Ranger, “Ratbert” as I’ve affectionately named him. This car has hit 94 mph accidently once in its life (of course the speedometer is a bit off so it was probably much lower) going downhill, and struggles to get past 80. Going uphill… yeah its not so pretty, right lane for me and I’ve had semi’s pass me, no joke. But its mine, and its a Truck. I love trucks, and dysfunctional as it is, I love Ratbert. Since my family has owned the car, we’ve had to replace the wheels a few times, the brakes, and an Oxygen Sensor. Thats all. I’m pretty sure Ratbert would take me through a volcano and be alright, minus a little cosmetic aging.

For me, Ratbert, and other trucks are the freedom to go pretty much anywhere. I went to do a little offroading with a friend a few years ago, and got better milage then than I do in the city, though that may be a product of my driving. More recently, I drove up to Yosemite and back over two days, and got to do a bit of driving there as well, amidst the beautiful scenery. Trucks can also tow things, got a motorcycle that needs transporting after its chain shreds? No problem, 1000 lbs of brick from you grandmother’s planter is nothing, though you will feel like you’re riding a bit low. People with trucks are also a bit more popular with others (or used, as you prefer,) you’ve got a truck and you’ll be invited over for moving parties and for that bit of furniture that needs moving. And, they’re Prius replant (see a bit later.)

And then there is the Ford Mustang (cue the drooling.) What is perhaps the most iconic and most American car in the world was introduced to us on the mass production assembly lines in 1964. Complete with that most American of means of locomotion, the Internal Combustion Engine, the car gets you from point A to point B by a series of controlled explosions. Get that? Order though controlled chaos. And it looks good doing so. There is something about the first few generations of this car that just reek of American beauty, and the Mustang is a car that no matter when it was built, you can still tell was a Mustang.

Unique to its time, the Mustang was a true consumer’s car, with options to put Wall Street to shame. The freedom to choose was entirely in keeping with a strong heritage of America; never before has there been a nation on this earth as tolerant to religion and pure choice as America. And here was the car that lets you choose almost everything about it. And on top of that, its a monster under the hood, a “I’m going to rip something’s face off, and its going to enjoy me doing it” kind of monster. With the muscle to back it, the Mustang has been, and remains an icon of American freedom and will to move by blowing things up while having fun. The car took 18 months to top 1,000,000,000 built.

The years gradually came and went, the Mustang went through a few years of looking plain ugly, and a number of oil crises later left some people looking for a way to get from point A to point B while saving a little in gas money. Enter the Prius, introduced to Japan in ’97 and the rest of the world in ’01. From Latin and meaning “To go before” the Prius is a vehicle that gets approximately 3500 miles per gallon, at an excitement level slightly below getting your tooth pulled. Now don’t get me wrong here, the Prius (the plural of which is evidently ‘Prii’ a term I shall be mockingly ignoring for ‘Priuses’ henceforth) will get you from point A to point B at a speed roughly that of a speeding… something slower than a Cheetah, at least if you want the advertised MPG (cue the “I want my MG’s” television jingle.)

There is another reason for a Prius, which is related to a lower gas usage (which we know is rather unpatriotic due to America’s foundation having been based on gunpowder and blowing things up, a reason we like guns so much,) and that is for the environment! It is cleaner, uses less gas, and produces fewer environment unfriendly emissions than most other cars on the roads these days. Just pay no attention to the obscenely high rate of emissions during construction….

The Prius has become something of a snobbish icon, a “Holier than Thou” trophy of the left to snub those heathens who are killing off the environment and supporting wars for oil. As a matter of contrast, it took the Prius about a decade  to reach a million units sold.
Another comparison, the Prius had 5 colors total, and for a decently upgraded Prius (read, I checked the most expensive model, our of 4 different choices) you will run around $31,000. A Mustang has 6 different coupe models, and 5 convertible, the option to choose manual over that pathetic “standard” choice in terms of transmission, and 9 base colors, with stripes available. All told you can spend hours with all the choices and spend anywhere from a fairly affordable $24,000 to about $55,000 for the drool inducing Shelby GT500 monster in vehicular form. Oh, and a Mustang can tow things if it needs too.

On the extreme polar opposite end of the Prius, and heavily favoring the Mustang is the fastest production car in the world; the Bugatti Veyron. This is the dire half-celestial cousin of the Mustang, on steroids. Conservatively estimated at putting out 1,001 horsepower (Bugatti  says the true number is closer to 1,200) and with a recorded top speed of 267.856 mph (at a fuel economy of a modest 3 mpg.) With a 0-60 of less than 2.46 seconds, a 0-248.5 of 50 seconds, and a 250-0 time of 10 seconds flat, this is the car I would love to own. Just to further prove the amazingness inherent to this vehicle, it chugs 1.388 gallons of gas a minute, traveling 4.166 miles over that period of time. True beauty of engineering there

So, we now live in a world where the Prii are attempting a takeover of the noble Mustang, and the fight does not end with cars, but is extending itself to SUV’s, trucks and even motorcycles. In my humble (and not so humble) opinion, there will always be an element, a Remnant, of America that holds to its true heritage and remembers what automobiles are here for. They’re not here to get you from point A to point B, thats what we have public transportation for. They’re here to show what and who you are, to occasionally make a political statement, and most importantly to have fun. Stay explosively my friends.

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: