Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Midlife crisis resolved – for now

Faithful readers of this blog may remember that I wanted to spend my “author” income on a proper midlife crisis, specifically a down payment on a white sports car. My first choice and the car I’ve wanted since childhood, the Ford Mustang, was a no-go because its curvy windshield gives me a headache after about an hour behind the wheel.

Since then I’ve been too busy to think about cars, until now, because the lease on my Honda Accord was coming to an end – and as the drumbeat of end-of-lease letters and even phone calls from Honda were starting to increase dramatically, things were getting to the point where I had to buy *something*, even if it was my old car. So I finally managed to squeeze out from behind my desk with the missus and look at cars last weekend.

My first stop was a BMW dealer, and to my surprise, I wasn’t impressed. Short, hard seats in a heavy car that indeed goes way too fast, for way too many Euros. Then came one just for fun, the Chevy HHR, a car I’ve rented and enjoyed before. Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t want to be driving around in something that looks like a 1940s milk truck for the next five years. We even checked out another same old same old Honda Accord, like I’ve been driving for much of the last two decades, and its great new styling for 2008 unfortunately couldn’t overcome a passenger seat that was a hard as a park bench. (I spend a lot of time in the passenger seat of my own car, writing on my laptop on business trips and weekend jaunts while my sweetie drives.)

So finally, I went to a Volkswagen dealer and tried out the Jetta for the first time in many years, and – wow – it was love at first sight. Slot-car handling, a nice firm ride, supremely comfortable seats, and its SE model is loaded with everything I ever wanted in a car: heated leather seats, sunroof, satellite radio, MP3, ABS, a zillion air bags, and a 10 (!) speaker premium stereo. Its 170 HP engine, based on a Lamborghini design, zips around nicely in traffic. And it is a beautiful white car, just like I imagined.

The one and only twinge in my decision was whether I should upgrade to the turbocharged Wolfsburg edition of the Jetta, giving me near-BMW performance for only a grand or so more. (Remember, this is supposed to be a proper midlife crisis.) Unfortunately, it has a couple of gotchas. First, it requires premium gas, adding a few hundred more a year to my car expenses. Second, and more important, it only comes in dull colors that seriously need more Prozac – grey, black, and silver – as well as a garish fire-engine red. The dealer was kind enough to let me take one home, and looking at it in my driveway, the thought of driving a dull grey car for five years was a showstopper. I’ve already been through the dull grey car phase of my life, thank you.

So now I have my white sports car – sort of. I love it. Now, back to writing.

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