I was surfing the internet yesterday and landed on the Petrolicious website. If you haven’t been there, it is a car junky’s paradise. While poking around I came across this short little car profile about a Jaguar titled “The shift from owning a car as appliance to a car of consequence.” And then I stumbled across a video about Jack Olsen’s 911 titled, “One Car to do it all”.
This got me to thinking about my daily appliance. Due to the machinations that are life I have gradually gone from having a daily driver that I enjoyed, and cared for, and wanted to put a million miles on, and pass on to my son, to having an appliance.
Now don’t get me wrong the VW CC that I am driving, is stylish, it is well equipped, it is reasonably powerful, it gets good fuel economy, it is safe, and it is reliable. Unfortunately, it bores me to tears to drive it. Don’t get all bent out of shape about 1st world problems, or as a friend of mine calls them, “luxury problems”. This is the automotive version of throwing things away vs caring for them and maintaining them, which, let’s face it, seems to be a societal issue these days.
My friend Aaron recently bought a well used, and well worn Porsche 944 S2. In a way it is a dream car, a car he will own for a very long time, which he will customize, until it is exactly the way he wants it to be, much like Jack Olsen has done with his 911. Every time Aaron and his car come to visit, and he nearly always arrive in his car, I get a little vehicular envy. My 6 year old son knows the car has arrived just from the sound as it pulls in the driveway. Aaron steps out of his car nearly always with a smile on his face just from the pure enjoyment of driving it. Not because he was thrashing it, but just because the man/machine connection provides all the sensations that give a driving enthusiast pleasure. The directness of the steering, the tautness of the suspension, the response of the brakes, the sound of the engine. All these things in this particular car provide a level of driving satisfaction that I am not getting from my daily conveyance.
The flip side to this scenario is that every time Aaron comes to visit, he has to repair something on the car. Let’s face it, as good as it is, this car is nearly 23 years old, with 120,000+ miles on it. Things are going to wear, out, break, or just plain go bad. The money spent on purchasing this car and keeping it going is probably now in excess of what he would have spent to buy a few year old, GTI or similar, that he would probably keep until the costs got to been too much, then trade it for another similar car. Which is exactly the discussion we had before buying the Porsche. Aaron’s answer “I don’t want to own a disposable car”.
In the end, which scenario is better; to be custodian of a car, and a piece of automotive history, for the next generation, or to have the responsible appliance?
Aaron me called the other day, he was a few miles from home and had a clutch failure… On the one hand I’m thinking, wow, I am so glad I have a reliable car. On the other hand I’m looking for used Porsches and BMWs right now…