Monday, August 2, 2010

Car Talk

During this year’s Malice Domestic, I participated in the New Kids on the Block Panel moderated by Margaret Maron. Margaret pointed out the protagonist of my Broken Vows mystery series sells high performance cars. Then she asked what I really know about them. I replied, “Let’s not put it to the test.”

But today I’m going to state what I know—or think—about cars. If I’m wrong, please be so kind as to not disagree. Here we go:

  • In America the overall number of passenger vehicles outnumbers licensed drivers. (Hence I thought cars might be of interest to some readers.)

  • Automatic cars are simpler to drive than standard (read: the accelerator can be used like an “on-off” switch which is how I like it).

  • Drivers’ tests are easier in an automatic, even one the size of a Dodge Polara (read: boat).

  • My protagonist drives a standard—a Porsche. I drive an automatic (see above). This is not to say I have never driven a standard. It is to say I didn’t learn to do it well, which is why I never drove my husband’s Corvette or Porsche.

  • Good visibility is important. My first car was a used 1972 Ford Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood’s car in the 2008 movie Gran Torino, only navy with a black top). It had a lot of horsepower and very little rear window visibility, especially for a petite teen. I backed into the trash cans in our driveway, which my dad still finds hilarious.

  • It is always fortuitous to resell your first used car before the bolts rust through and the transmission falls out on a major roadway. (Consider the slogan: “Have you driven a Ford lately?)

  • Never buy a used Monza (car number two) at night in a dim garage or you might end up with an oxidized hood and white leather upholstery covered in dog hair.

  • $800 off the sticker price of a new Chevy Cavalier IS NOT a good deal, even if your father thinks it is.

  • Red sporty cars like an Eagle Talon attract attention and compliments. They are not, however, convenient for car seats and must be sacrificed upon birth of first child to obtain a four-door Subaru Legacy. Having beloved Talon crashed by new teenage owner within a week only adds insult to injury (the teenager was fine, really).

  • It is not so much fun to be a racer’s wife when your husband’s car is slammed frontend-first into the wall right in front of you and your children. It’s better to be one when your husband gets out of the car, hopping mad.

  • With time and skill, a crunched or rusted car can be awesome again. [Kinda wished I still had that Gran Torino when Clint’s movie came out.]

I own a Mazda Tribute now. So, anyone else want to share car tales? What was your first or favorite car?


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think you know a lot more about cars than I do, Lisa!

I've got a Honda Odyssey minivan that I love, only because I can haul people and materials around with lots of room. :)

Mary said...

You know much more than you think you do.
My first car was a VW. I loved that little thing. I still prefer a stick to automatic because you pay more attention when you drive.

Alan Orloff said...

Nice post, Lisa "Gearhead" Bork.

My first car was a Ford Granada. Talk about chick magnets!

Lisa Bork said...

Elizabeth - Oh, yes, the minivan. That has to be one of the most popular car models for just the reason you stated. I know the school parking lot is always a sea of them.

Mary - Herbie the Love Bug is very popular at our house.

Alan - Another Ford as a first. I think the Granada replaced the Torino in Ford's lineup.

Beth Groundwater said...

My first car was a little Datsun B210 that I saved for years for, so I could plunk down cash instead of taking out a loan. I've paid cash for every car since (2 minivans, then my Toyota Prius). My Prius is my favorite car, because after 2 decades of hauling kids around in minivans, I'm now driving a sporty little car again!

Darrell James said...

My early cars were muscle cars: Fairlane 500 GT, Firebird 400. Later I went with the sports cars. I've owned a whole string of Mazda RX7s. But people kept crashing into me, so now I drive a truck.

Lisa Bork said...

Beth - My dad has a Prius. I never think it's running because it makes so little engine noise.

Darrell - Love the Firebird, ever since The Rockford Files. Were your RX7s red? I think the color red attracts tickets and accidents.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Very fun post, Lisa!

I bought my first car during my freshman year in college for $200. It was a powder blue 1964 Dodge Dart with a push button transmission. I sold it a year later for $150. Gas was $0.25-0.30 a gallon back then. Yes, I am that old.

I don't give much thought to cars, which is odd since I live in an area awash with Mercedes, Beemers, Lexus, Jags and even the occassional Rolls Royce, Bentley and Ferrari. I drive a Ford Focus and am always amused by the looks of disdain I receive from valets.

G.M. Malliet said...

I am also not a car person, except I do love my Jeep. First car was also a VW.

Joni said...

I had a great first car, a 1974 Camaro, brand new. My mom was at the time the first (and possibly still the only) woman car salesman in Arkansas, and she had been watching out for the right first car for me. This one was dark red, with a black and white houndstooth interior, and an 8 track tape player. I was uptown, let me tell you. And with Mom in the car business for another ten years, I continued to get cool cars, like a couple of 240 and 280Zs!

Beth Groundwater said...

Ah, Joni, I remember the 280Z! I loved riding around in my then-boyfriend's 280Z (he's now my hubby). :)

Brenda B. said...

My first car was a well-used 1966 with a leaky windshield. My sister and I shared it - we kept a jumbo roll of paper towels under the front seat in case of rain.

Sue Ann, that baby blue Dodge sounds like a cousin to the pale gray '62 Dart wagon my parents drove. The push button transmission never did catch on, eh?

Kathleen Ernst said...

Oh my, I had a string of junkers, all second (or third) hand. Ford Pinto, Chevy Nova (which my bilingual daughter reminds me says "No go" in Spanish), some AMC I can't even remember the model of. My first new car was a Renault, which died completely at about 60,000 miles.

Now my husband and I both drive Priuses.

I am not a "car person," but I loved your book!

Sheila Deeth said...

Lots of good car tales there Lisa.

My car-knowledge generally stops are the four-wheels and what-color-is-it stage. Surprisingly, so does one of my sons'.

Alan Orloff said...

Darrell - I loved my RX-7 (in fact, that's the car Channing Hayes drives in KILLER ROUTINE), but I had to sell it to pay grad school tuition :(

Lisa Bork said...

Sue Ann - My grandma had a Dodge Dart. Hers had plastic flowers tied to the antenna so she could spot in parking lots, though. What do you think a valet would do when he saw that?

Gin - My husband and I owned two Jeeps in the course of our marriage. We like them, too.

Joni - My husband's first car was a 240Z which is why his first race car is also a 240Z.

Brenda - Used cars come with lots of fun challenges, don't they?!

Kathleen - Was it the AMC Pacer with the big windows that made it like driving in a fishbowl? Or maybe a Gremlin, which was similar to the Pinto?

Sheila - I always ask "What color is it?" Car companies spend a lot of time thinking of cool names for all their colors, but to me, my father-in-law's "magenta" car will always be just plain "purple."

Kathleen Ernst said...

OK, I got curious and did some Googling. I think my old car was a Hornet. Green, in fact.

Lisa Bork said...

The Green Hornet--perfect!!

Cricket McRae said...

My first car was a yellow Bug with a black convertible top. It leaked in the winter, but was great in the summer!
Hearth Cricket

Lisa Bork said...

Cricket - The Bugs are so cute--no wonder they came back a second time! We often see two of the new models driving around town: one painted like a ladybug and one painted like Herbie.

N. R. Williams said...

I can't remember my first car, it was that memorable. We drive a Dodge Caravan now that takes E-85. When ever I fill up the tank I am thankful to pay less and glad I'm not contributing to those guys with funny hats in the middle east.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author