the flux capacitor!

12/18/03

IanCrashedVolvo92(bl).jpg

I wanted to make this my 1993 Christmas card, but my erstwhile girlfriend wouldn’t let me

I have had nothing but shitty, shitty, shitty cars. Besides a 1971 white Karmann Ghia that I bought with summer job money, I have been on the receiving end of some of the worst vehicles ever created. The best that could said for them is they moved forward when you stepped on the gas pedal, but many of them, alas, didn’t even do that.

The Volvo pictured above was given to me for $100 by my brother Kent, and while it surely had its heyday in 1968, by the time I got it, you had to shove screwdrivers into the upholstery to keep the windows from falling inside the doors. The ignition started with a locker key, and occasionally the accelerator pedal would break, and I had to accelerate by pulling speaker wire attached to the idler.

My next car, a white diesel Rabbit, lost both first and second gear, meaning I had to start it by pushing it down a hill. My VW Fox had no door handles and seized on a LA freeway going 75mph. And my last car, a white Mustang convertible, still had vials of spent cocaine burned into the carpet, the top was patched with packing tape, and it gave off the smell of burning hair when it went more than 50 miles per hour.

I mention this because we bought a car yesterday. It is the first new car I have ever had. It is a Toyota Prius, and it fucking ROCKS THE FREE WORLD!!!

TessaIanPrius(bl).jpg

We’ve been obsessing over the Prius since last year’s model, so when we read the specs of the 2004 version, we went ahead and put our deposit down and hoped for the best. In the meantime, it became Motor Trends’ Car of the Year, which opened a floodgate of interest, and now we’re told ours is one of the first in NYC, and there is a 9 to 11-month waiting list. In California, the wait is a year and a half. Needless to say, we feel utterly blessed.

You don’t use your car keys like normal; you just need them in your pocket. They wirelessly open the doors and start the engine with the push of a button. The car is so quiet that Tessa accidentally left it running during the entirety of “Return of the King,” meaning that any Tolkein fan could have forgone Middle Earth and driven off with the Future. The base price is $19K, and ours came with a wicked video navigation system, a 9-speaker stereo, and an impenetrable anti-theft mechanism (my beloved wife notwithstanding). No, there is no “plugging it in,” and it goes as fast as you want.

Anyone with serious cock issues shouldn’t buy the Prius; it doesn’t rev and jolt out of intersections like most assholes in their Yukons. In fact, the physical feel of driving is so different that it takes some getting used to. At a full stop, the engine shuts off and you can hear whispers. On the highway, you can hear the bass of your favorite songs again. The transmission is so seamless that it almost feels like you’re on a mag-lev train, floating above the sand like the car Luke had in “Star Wars.”

We were willing to put up with a tiny car, but, like an Escher painting or the plot of House of Leaves, the interior seems to measure bigger than the car’s exterior. It’s called a “compact,” but the room inside – because of the smaller engine and battery – gives you the legroom and storage of a midsize. There’s more room in the back seat than the Land Rover, swear to god.

And it gets 60 miles a gallon in the city. In other words, you can drive 720 miles through Manhattan before you need to get more gas. This was why we’re doing this: we wanted to Stick It To The Man as hard as we possibly could. Dick Cheney and the Bush family is not getting one more fucking red cent from our oil purchases than we can bear. And since the car is almost zero-emissions, we are ensuring that our grandkids won’t have to wear SPF 400 sunscreen when it’s cloudy.

Hopefully, we can act as emissaries for this little baby, showing people that you don’t have to drive a cramped, slow car shaped like a Advil gelcap in order to get insane mileage. Put your name on the list and help us Kick the Man in the Nuts!

One thought on “the flux capacitor!

  1. Peter Rukavina

    When the ignition keys on my 1979 Datsun 510 wore down, I replaced the “turn the car on” system with a switch and a push button. I have no idea how I managed to figure out how to do that, for I have very little mechanical apptitude. Cars were simpler then, I guess.

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  2. Reinvented

    Ian and Tessa Let Out the Gas

    Because I am in possession of the gasoline receipts for Ian’s Land Rover trip from New York to Cavendish, I can attest to the fact that Ian and Tessa’s purchase of a Toyota Prius will be responsible for at least 10% of Brooklyn’s Kyoto committme…

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  3. Johnny Rukavina

    When I was about 5 years old, we were on a family motor trip to (I think) Pennsylvania in our 1969 Plymouth Satellite (I believe it got about 4 miles per gallon). Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the muffler disintegrated. In a MacGyver-esque fit of inspiration, my dad fashioned a crude muffler out of soda pop cans, sending us over to the garbage (this was the pre-recycyling era) at a nearby store to fetch raw materials. It worked quite well and got us to the next town in (relatively) quiet comfort. I liked the muffler because it was brightly coloured.

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  4. cullen

    Interesting that your license tag in the photo is blurred, as if your new car has a shiny halo from heaven above. My wife’s grandmother would leave pennies inconspicuously throughout the car to favor your fortune.
    Congratulations on the new baby. What will her name be? Isn’t it the trend that most cars have girl names, at least in the south, excluding Bo and Luke’s General Lee of course. I drove a more androgenous circa 1976 silver-gray Plymouth Arrow hatchback aptly called the Silver Bullet, though it really lacked the pick-up that plagued the Lone Ranger. Alas, there’s nothing like the snide New York winter to test a new ride. Good Luck!
    By the way, it’s early I know, but big game for the boys in blue tomorrow. Merry and Happy!

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  5. Dave

    The Prius sounds like a great deal of fun. The transmission is a CVT, hence the seamless shifts. Did all your previous cars (with the exception of the Volvo)die from lack of maintenance? To seize on the freeway is not a typical event in the life of a car owner. Take better care of the Prius.

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  6. kent

    The Blue Volvo was … well that was my beater for a couple years before you got it. If you’d maintained it (where by ‘maintaining’ means replacing doors, quarter panels, engines, leaf springs etc) it would still be running. It was sold to you under the proviso that I wasn’t sure it would make it back to North Carolina. It did that and much, much more.
    How the f*ck did you get that picture with it tipped up? Did you guys bash it up and tip it just to get that picture?
    And lest we forget — Melissa and I had, before that ‘vo, another Blue ‘vo except it was the ‘Saloon Car’ with the fuel injected straight six. We sold that to a couple of lesbians who for all I know are still driving it — it was still on the streets of Iowa City ten years after we sold it. And then there was another green Volvo which I can barely remember owning, that we sold to Sean Charles, who ignored the gauges and blew the head gasket, and left it somewhere west of Des Moines. Apparently they left it for so long before trying to retrieve it, it was gone and no one remembered it.

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  7. Ian

    Yeah, Kent’s blue Volvo actually did run for about three years, and was easily the most comfortable “road trip” vehicle known to man. You could sleep a family of four in the back seat.
    That photograph was from a movie shoot – some drunk bastards had smashed the hell out of the car after it had sat idle for a few months, so we made a prop out of it. Three of us flipped it over, and it was part of a crash scene in the short film. I climbed in and got a picture.

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  8. Jeffro

    Great story!…. Actually I found it because I was looking for specifications to make a working flux capacitor…. and wound up here…
    I am sorry to say that I have a Land Rover and I regrettably pay $40 every week to fill her up… But I like to run over things, and go up mountains…. what can you do…
    Good luck with your new car… Maroon is my favorite color!

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