Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
Frozen Toast
Google Search
The Juice

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09 

Personally On the Juice
Scott Takes On Society
Comedy 101
Kick Out the Jams (Music Pieces)
Even Baseball Stories Here
Link to Scott's NSFW Sports Site
Please Explain: American Automobiles
2007-08-04 14:01
by Scott Long

I'm not a car guy. I have never changed my own oil. My knowledge basically extends to I know how to unscrew the gas cap and on some cars, know where to check the coolant. When something goes wrong with my car, I follow a basic process. I take my car into a shop and shake my head up and down, while listening to the mechanic use words that could be absolute bullshit, as gasket and manifold might as well be Mandarin Chinese to my ears. The mechanic then tells me how much it will be, which brings about the only thing I'm sure about; I'm about to get bent over for the full Jiffy-lube service.

Whenever something does go wrong with my car, I start thinking again about why haven't I cultivated a friendship with someone who really likes to work on cars. Then I remember that I would rather pay double to have it fixed than to sit at some neighborhood barbecue listening to stories about overhauling a muscle car. It's probably true that if I didn't like football and pussy so much, I would probably have no qualifications to be a member in the Real Man club.

With this lack of interest in the inner-workings of a car, when I go shop for one I'm basically like some housewife who is only concerned with getting a cute, low-maintenance vehicle. Add good gas mileage to the mix and it isn't likely that you will see me in car made by Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler.

This isn't to say that I haven't owned American cars. I grew up in a household that considered the UAW as holy as Christianity and red meat. Both my Grandfathers and my Father worked at the Maytag Plant in Newton, Iowa, building home appliances that kept the Maytag repairman lonely. While they never received anywhere close to the kind of money that the United Auto Workers made, the UAW did provide a decent wage for the hard work they produced. As a member of the clan, it was considered a sacrilege to buy anything but an American-made car.

The first car I ever purchased on my own was after I graduated from college. While I had never really clung to anything which could be considered traditional or patriotic, I bought a Chevy Beretta because I knew it would make my Grandpa happy. I'm not sure there is anything that makes you feel more like an adult than buying your first car. Sadly, part of being an adult is having to pay for fixing stuff and the Beretta became nothing but a headache. It's major mechanical flaw was that it would constantly stall when it came to a halt, after going at high speeds. Since I was living in Chicago at the time, this was a real problem, considering I was given the honor of paying a toll every 4 miles on my way to work.

I can think of few cars that seemed to disappear off the roads more quickly than the Chevy Beretta. While Accords and Camrys from the early 90's still are plentiful, by the the end of the last decade it was really rare to see the Beretta. The most rare thing was to see a Beretta with it's original paint job, as almost the whole fleet of this model started losing its paiint by year 2. It was like the Beretta suffered from Vitiligo. Chevrolet should have included a large surgical mask to cover it up, much like Michael Jackson would wear.

Cars can be like people, as sometimes you can fall in love with quirky good looks, but within a couple of years you wonder what you ever originally saw in them. The Beretta was this type of car, which also was the case for my second car, the 1996 Ford Taurus. I figured that my bad luck with Chevy might be an abberation and I despite knowing that Toyota and Honda graded out better, I took a chance with the Taurus, especially since it had a better stereo system and leather seats than the Camry..

This was a bad decision, as combined with my girlfriend's miserable 1994 Pontiac Grand AM, we would be looking at one car repair after another for the next 4 years. The Grand AM was the biggest piece of shit car I've ever driven (and this includes the 1985 Yugo that my step-father owned.) This Grand AM used to overheat faster than Caligula at a Donkey Show. The Taurus was pretty luxrious and drove decently, but ended up dropping its transmission during year 3, going up a hill in Western Maryland.

Towed into a transmission shop in Cumberland, Maryland, the owner looked at me like I was the ticket for a new hot-tub for his patio. This was probably accented by the fact that I was coming home from a vacation and was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He gave me the Doc Hollywood treatment, saying that it would take a few days for him to get a transmission in-stock. Let me offer up that there was no (NSFW) Julie Warner to make my stay more delightful. Unlike the movies, I was to discover I was more likely to meet the kind of babe who would put Cumberland on the map a decade later, with her zany antics in Abu Ghraib. (Oh Lynndie, you know what I like. Now put the cigarette in your mouth,,, Yes, now point... I feel like Bruce Weber.)

So by 1998, I had my fill with buying American. I wanted to support my union tradition, but considering I put at least 30,000 miles per year on my car and can't change a tire, I needed a lower maintenance vehicle. Thus began my days driving Toyota's, which have served me very well.

Oh yeah, this was a Please Explain piece on American Automobiles. According to Consumer Reports and JD Power rankings, the American car companies have made a lot of progress in quality. Much of Detroit wonders why consumers haven't been more receptive, because of these improvements? Truthfully, I wonder why as many people buy them as they do. American automobiles could be just as reliable as their foreign competitors, but I wouldn't buy one now because they are some ugly-ass pieces of shit sheet metal.

Most of the really hideous looking cars on the road came from Detroit. The Chevy Malibu and Impala or the Ford Focus or Fusion might have look good from some angles, but the architects of these cars always seem to mess up the back or front. These cars are the equivalent to the pretty girl with bad teeth and a lumpy ass. You know, an ugly grill and lousy back end. While I'm not a fan of Chrysler, I give them some props for trying something different with their batmobile-influenced cars. Let me offer up, though, that when Dodge does those ads about a HEMI, I never feel less like a man, as I'm about as lost as when I watch an ad for a maxi-pad having wings.

The one place that Detroit was beating the foreign companies was in the SUV/Truck category. With the increase in gas prices and Japan getting more competitive in this category, Detroit is getting to the point where there is talk of bankruptcy. Sure union benefits (especially retirees health benefits) are really hurting the Big 3 in trying to compete with the Foreign automakers, but unitl they start designing better-looking automobiles, I don't know see why the tide will turn.

I perform standup in Michigan a lot and it is one of my favorite states in the country. Parts of the Lake Michigan coast are among the most beautiful places I've ever been in the US, and I love the people of the state. Currently the state is bleeding red ink and it's depressing for me to see. I know I'm part of the problem, as I just bought a Honda CR-V, instead of a Big 3 product.  I have chosen globalization over US Made following the path of Thomas Friedman over Lou Dobbs. I want to be a protectionist, but I can't do it unilaterally.

Please Explain to me why I should buy American when it comes to a sedan or compact car?

2007-08-04 15:06:38
1.   Vishal
Most of the really hideous looking cars on the road came from Detroit.

actually, several of them come from toyota... see: rav4, echo, matrix, the mid-90s camry

detroit does make some ugly ones too, though.

2007-08-04 15:13:59
2.   Penarol1916
I thought that most Japanese cars are made in America now anyway. Although you are supporting non-union workers in the South when you buy Japanese.
2007-08-04 15:16:53
3.   Scott Long
I think the Rav is decent, though the tire on the backend doesn't work. The Matrix is a bit nerdy, but it's better than it's sister product the Pontiac Vibe and most of the other knockoffs of the small crossover vehicles. (See the Ford, Chevy, or Mazda hatchbacks.)
2007-08-04 15:20:11
4.   Scott Long
I don't know what percentage of foreign cars are made over here, but for example, the CR-V all come from Japan. The wages and benefits are about half of what the Big 3 pay. Good for the hayseed towns these foreign automakers set up shop in, but nowhere close to the benefit that Henry Ford offered up.
2007-08-04 15:32:50
5.   Vishal
[3] really? i guess the newer ones are okay, looking, but this was one of the ugliest cars ever built, i thought. and the back end looked melted, like it had driven too close to a mushroom cloud:
2007-08-04 15:33:02
6.   Vishal
er, that was supposed to be okay-looking.
2007-08-04 15:42:15
7.   fordprefect
Scott, you've already done your patriotic duty buying, then maintaining, at great personal expense, all those Detroit p o s cars. No need to guilt-trip yourself about it. Enjoy the low-maintenance car(s) you've got. Supporting Detroit's is not your responsibility.
My father was constantly having to fix our family sedans & cars (Fords) when we were young and I swore then that I'd never subject myself or my family to that kind of misery. Hence, nothing but Toyotas and Hondas here.
2007-08-04 17:19:27
8.   Elliot
I just bought my first car this summer at age 23 (unless you count the 16-year-old $700 Buick I had in high school), and after reading this post I only feel better and better about picking up an Accord.
2007-08-04 18:23:40
9.   Vishal
i'll return to this, because i like cars. my first car was a saturn and while it was great to drive, it broke down a heck of a lot more than it should have, and i didn't drive it nearly as hard as you seem to drive your cars.

anyway, my next car was a nissan pickup and so far it's been great.

2007-08-04 19:14:16
10.   Bluebleeder87
The Chevy Malibu and Impala or the Ford Focus or Fusion might have look good from some angles, but the architects of these cars always seem to mess up the back or front.

Exactly what I've always felt about american cars. My first car ever was a sky blue truck (1987 4x4 Ford Ranger) rally nice but so many things were wrong with it for starters the side mirrors would fold once you hit 50mph & I always had a problem with the 4 cylinder engine I never bought american again, my latest car is a 2003 Acura 3.2 S & I couldn't be happier with it.

2007-08-04 19:52:20
11.   Michael D
I still have my 91 Accord that I've been driving since high school, I've had it since 99. This thing has taken a major beating in my early days as it was my first car. It's about as close to bullet proof as you can get. I don't think I'll ever buy American.
2007-08-04 22:23:47
12.   snydes
scott, i'm with you, i don't know a thing about cars. i can't fix anything. my buddy once asked me to help him fix some springy thing on his screen door and i said, "wouldn't it be easier to just hang a for sale sign out front?"

and don't feel bad. back in the day, when your dad and granddad grew up, there was nothing better to do than monkey around with a car. if they had internet porn they would have bought foreign, too.

anyway, i had 270,000 miles on my '88 honda civic before i finally got rid of it last year. it was all rusty but the engine still worked great. living in AZ i just couldn't deal with no AC anymore. we bought a new civic to replace it. we also have a jeep grand cherokee for hauling kids. it's an '02 and it's been great.

2007-08-04 23:03:41
13.   chris in illinois
I guess I'll chime in on the side of the Red, White and Blue. The first car I ever really drove was my parent's 1980 Chevy Citation. Now there's an easy joke in that name, but I'm not the comedian. That car was crap.

My dad bought a 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88 when I was away at school (used 15k miles on it) and finally gave it away to a local charity in 2003 with 157k miles on it---never had anything go wrong with it, nothing. I truly enjoyed driving that car---rooooomy.

Before I continue I must confess something:

I'm 6'8".

Auto makers don't really factor height outliers like myself in their designs and many of my auto choices are a result of my semi-freakish height.

The first car I ever bought myself was a 1991 Mazda 323 2 door hatchback. That car was awesome. It was also my last foreign car. I put 100k on that car in three years (long story) and never had an issue with it.

I got a new job and a bit more cash so I traded the reliable 323 in for a Ford Probe (94). The Probe was the first car I ever had that had leather, a CD player, Auto locks/Windows, etc---all the goodies that are on almost all modern cars these days. I really liked that car until it started to fall apart.

I got out from under the Ford just in time and bought a brand new 99 Buick Century. It came down to the Buick or an Accord. Here is where I start to attempt to explain "American Cars". My recollection might be a bit fuzzy, but I paid 19k for that car at 1.9%, a similarly equipped Honda was 28k (@6.9% or 7.9%). In my estimation reliability didn't come with a 50% premium, so I went with the Buick.

American cars are cheaper.

I drove the Oldsmobuick for five plus years and 85k with nary an issue---hell I never changed my brake pads. I then decided to buy another car: a 2005 Magnum RT.

Now that car was sweet. Outside of having an incredible factory stereo (Boston Acoustics), it had the most room that I've ever had in a car. My other finalists were the Lincoln TownCar and the Cadillac Deville---remember, I'm a big guy. Anyway, after a year and a half of car-owner bliss I discovered that my wife was having twins, so I traded in my Magnum for a Dodge Grand Caravan. I got more in trade for my Magnum than I owed (depreciation?) and I got a flexible vehicle that has auto-everything, leather, DVD player, Infinity speakers, you name it for 10k less than what a new Toyota would have cost (similarly equipped) and at 0%.

Just this past April, my wife and I traded in her '03 Buick Rendezvous for an 2004 Suburban (needed a vehicle that fits four car seats---there really aren't any foreign cars that can fit four car seats in them). Prior to that she drove a 1997 Cavalier.

(Side Note: Anyone know why Warsteiner comes in 11.2 oz bottles?)

My experience with American cars has been overwhelmingly positive (minus the shitty Ford and the ancient Chevy).

Bottom line is that over the last ten years My wife and I have driven eight different American cars between 250k and 300k miles and outside of my crap Ford Probe, have had zero mechanical issues.

So Scott, I'd have to answer this please explain as:
1) Price and Financing and
2) Recent reliability.

2007-08-05 09:29:04
14.   avehoward
My family is a Saturn family, when it comes to the compact/sedan-type the three Saturns (albeit one is only a couple months old) we've owned, there has been one large problem ($1k in repairs) in over 300k miles. I'll take that. Of course I hesitate to call Saturn a "pure" American car...more like an American adaptation of Japanese autos.
2007-08-05 10:31:36
15.   Scott Long
This is what Please explain is for, to help me better understand.

A couple of things I think need to be brought up. On the West Coast, there is less patriotic loyalty towards cars, especially since most were built in the midwest. I'm guessing some of the east coast readers (especially new yorkers) are less passionate about the subject, since automobiles don't serve the same purpose, as mass transit has a large impact. Globalization has taken longer to be accepted in the flyover states, as we grew up with parents with fair paying, industrial jobs. Now many of us are in the service industry and push back against GATT and NAFTA like deals have strong appeal. We are going to make less than our parents.

Just like Chris brings up that he is really tall, so that has an effect in buying patterns, I drive a lot of miles per year, so after 5 years I have 160-plus on my car. My past experiences tell me that ain't going to happen with a Ford or Chevy. (From what I have seen, the best made American car is generally a Buick. Great comfort inside, but they are totally made for 70 year-olds, despite what Tiger Woods might try to market differently.)

Most everybody in Michigan seems to have a relative who worked for the Big 3 at one time, so you see mainly american cars, because of loyalty, but also employee discount pricing.

I think American non-luxury cars are generally more comfortable for bigger people, but they are just so fucking ugly. Outside of a limited item like the Ford Thunderbird, they just don't look good. Chrysler made some interesting stuff, which I'm guessing came in part because of German designers being involved.

I don't know this for a fact, but it does seem for too long that American designers were too caught up in making the engine go faster. Since this just appeals to car critics and a few buyers, it seems like a waste of energy. These companies need to hire a few women (or a guy like me) to help with design. Style, gas mileage, and reliability will sell more cars than if you have a HEMI.

2007-08-05 17:43:26
16.   Penarol1916
The good thing about the employee discount, is that my wife's is from Ford, so we always get Mazdas (the MPV is my favorite minivan).
2007-08-05 19:44:17
17.   Suffering Bruin
Scott's right about the west coast being less than patriotic when it comes to cars. We've been driving Toyota's and now we drive Honda's. They are reliable, you can drive them forever and they look good. And they are (finally!) making cars for taller people.
2007-08-06 07:09:06
18.   JasonO
Long, here's the deal:

American cars sucked from approx. 1975-1995. Styling, quality, performance, all sucked.

In the last decade, the quality gap between US and Japanese brands has been reduced to about equal. The styling and other brand issues are also improving, but it takes a long time to recover (shift customer perceptions) from that 20 year period of bad product decisions and a bad quality reputation.

But forget about all that. If the UAW does not agree to fundamental changes in the luxurious pension and healthcare contracts of their giant pool of retirees and also the current workforce, the US auto industry will cease to exist within 5-7 years. Similar to the American steel and textile industries.

It costs $1,500 more (per car) for Ford/GM/Chrysler to produce a car vs. Toyota, and that $1.5K is completely due to pension and healthcare benefits to the UAW workforce and retirees.

The point is, every car the US auto industry produced could be a sales hit and the tens of billions of dollars in contract obligations that the automakers are on the hook for (legacy costs) would still bury the industry.

2007-08-06 08:50:31
19.   Scott Long
I hear you, Jason, but...
As long as the designers of the American cars put ugly grills on the front and make cars that from the back look like the Malibu Maxx and the Pontiac Aztek, they could take away all former employees pensions and they would still be screwed. Executives of these companies pretty much ignored hybrid technology at the turn of the decade, which is more shortsighted vision by these executives.

The Detroit Lions are a micro view of what Ford auto is run like. No wonder...

What a mess.

2007-08-06 12:02:29
20.   jgpyke

Toyota is now one of the Big Three. It should be #2, actually, any day now (it's already #1 in the world).

There is a saying, "Horses for courses." Since you're a 30K+/yr driver, then Toyotas and Hondas seem to be exactly what you need.

I am surprised by the bad Taurus you had. They were fleet vehicles for a reason: reliability.

Me? I own a 1991 Civic Wagon with 175K on it. It's my work car (15 miles/day, around 4-5K/yr, all told). Runs like a champ, more or less. I could probably hop it in right now and drive to Alaska. However, I can't imagine it's the safest vehicle in the world.

As for American, our family car is a 2000 Ford Crown Vic (bought used about 2.5 yrs ago). Yes, it sucks the gas, but not as bad as you'd think. My Accord before that got 22/27, and this thing gets 19/25. Anyway, the Crown Vic is listed by Consumers and Edmunds as a used car best bet, super reliable, safe, etc. Cop cars and taxis are Vics for a reason. What's great about these cars on the used market is the depreciation: they're overpriced to begin with, so the depreciation means I get a cheap used car. And there's the old man factor: only octogenarians drive the damn things, so I get a gently used, always well-maintained ride.

Bought from a WW II vet (no xit), I paid exactly six grand and got a 5-yr-old used car with 60K miles, two years left on an extended warranty, five-star crash ratings, ABS, power everything, and a mafia trunk which means we can load the car for family trips without even thinking about it. No more car-trunk puzzle like with the Honda. If we go to the park, I can put my daughter's bike in the trunk and close it--and there's still room to load groceries.

Would I buy another big, sloppy, rear-wheel drive, V8, old man mobile like the Vic or Grand Marquis? Unless gas is five bucks a gallon, abso-freaking-lutely. Do I wish I had 20 grand to spend on a new Toyota instead? Yes. But for six to eight grand, I'll keep bottom feeding the old man segment of the market.

2007-08-06 13:03:38
21.   weatherman
I was once a used car salesman. I worked at a new car dealership, but most of what I sold was used. Before you ate me for this, understand that I am now in law school. Hate me for that first, please.

I learned a lot about cars during that time and have made it a point to stay on top of car industry news. First, let me tell you that Honda is probably the best car company in the world. Second, Toyota has been declining in quality over the last decade in such a way that the Chevy Impala is now a better made vehicle than the Camry. A lot of this has to do with Toyota coming over here and GM going over to South Korea. Speaking of South Korea, Kia and Hyundai are the Toyota and Honda of the future. South Korea is making awesome vehicles right now and cheap.

All that said, I will say without hesitation that if I could buy any car on the market, it would be the new Chevy Malibu/Saturn Aura. These are essentially the same car. They are beautiful, cheap, fuel-efficient and reliable.

Finally, unless you are going to have a car for 10 years past is Model year (i.e. keep a 2001 model until 2011), do not buy a car, lease. You will always have a car payment, regardless of what you do and if you lease, you are not investing in a depreciating product.

Selling cars was one of the worst jobs I've ever had because my customers refused to accept that I knew what I was talking about. I hated it that so many people allowed themselves to be ripped off by some shyster salesman because they would rather listen to lies than the truth.

2007-08-06 15:19:15
22.   Scott Long
Good stuff, Jgpyke and weatherman.

It appears that Jgpyke has taken the "go ugly early" approach to car buying. This approach in a bar is to go after a less glamorous woman early, as you end up spending less money and she will be more likely to provide "dependability and satisfaction." Of course, if you are bothered what others think as you are driving off the lot, you will go for the shiny number.

Weatherman. I can't go with you on the leasing, as if you put over 12 thousand miles per year on your car, you are screwed by leasing.

2007-08-06 15:26:51
23.   rstevens99
I recently started looking for something a little larger than a Honda CRV, due to an impending expansion in the family. My wife and I wanted something that would seat 5 comfortably. I got excited when I noticed a local dealer advertising 2 GMC Envoys-- 2007, 10k miles, recent rental cars, leather and all the bells and whistles. They were asking for about 10k less than a new one would cost. I went on GMC's website to check on the options list, and was given the impression this was quite the luxury suv.

Then I visited the dealer. The outside was fine, about what I expected. The interior was a 1980's horror show. My friend had a Chevy Celebrity that looked more modern inside than this piece of crap. The leather felt like rock-hard, slippery vinyl. The dash was covered with acres of hard plastic. The back seats didn't recline, a feature that is standard on most Japanese cars and vans and suv's these days.
To top it all off, the rental agency had deleted the Onstar, which was the one feature that might have made me overlook some of the interior drawbacks.

I didn't even drive it, I drove immediately to another dealer and bought a Mazda5.

2007-08-06 17:00:01
24.   scareduck
Several stories.

1) My first car ever was a Chevy Vega. Only much later did I realize what a huge mistake I had made putting my limited funds into a full-fledged piece of crap like that. One newspaper wag said, "it's hard to trust a car that's rusting on the showroom floor". It was supposedly one of those bastard arrangements made with the union in the 70's that killed it; GM wanted robots and designed the car for assembly by them, but the union nixed that. Trouble was, that left fit and finish in the hands of less-certain union guys. Whether that's true or not seems to me to be largely immaterial, because the rust problems the car suffered from were simply enormous, and this was in California, where the amount of salt spray is miniscule compared to the north and midwest.

GM decided to use this car as a guinea pig for a lot of other "innovations" as well, including an aluminum-block engine. The dummies unfortunately elected to use steel piston rings, which caused massive, early scarring that caused immense oil burning. This was, I remember at the time, only fixable by boring out the cylinders and inserting iron sleeves, though Wikipedia has this as being the result of poorly-designed valves:

Just a total piece of junk.

2) 1994 Ford Thunderbird. Back in the days when gas was $1.29 a gallon, and that was in the expensive part of town, a big-block V8 was just about mandatory. Great, great, great road car, super comfortable for long trips -- and starting at about 2,000 miles after the warranty expired, the transmission started downshifting randomly during deceleration or acceleration. I took it to the transmission specialist shop nearby, and the owner told me that he got a lot of business from the local police department, whose Ford Crown Victorias had the same tranny and the same problem. Later, after repeating this cycle twice (once every 18 months), I took it to the dealership down the street. The service manager there told me they'd never heard of a problem like that, which told me (a) that they were lying, or (b) that nobody trusted these guys with complicated jobs like tranny rebuilds.

I ditched the car shortly thereafter.

2007-08-06 17:04:26
25.   scareduck
1a) Hyundai Excel. I used to work near LAX, which is a pretty rough neighborhood, and unfortunately our company (Hughes Aircraft, back when that was a going concern) didn't provide guarded parking. As a result of this, and the fact that I worked graves and swing shift often, resulted in my car being broken into frequently. The radio was very good and the car was easy to break into -- you just needed a pry bar to literally fold open the door. Embarrassing.

Also, the maker pulled tricks like putting a battery rack that only fit a 3/4-size battery nobody used in this country. Everything was cheap and it felt like it.

1b) My ex-boss's then-new 1985 Cadillac had door pillar covers made of cardboard and spray-on crushed velvet, and attached with spring clips. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

2007-08-06 17:05:58
26.   scareduck
20 - Unless gas is five bucks a gallon

This is a certainty. Buy the smallest car you can stand. It ain't going back down.

2007-08-06 21:16:26
27.   El Lay Dave
25 The aerospace and defense facilities in the area have better security now, but that is due more to 9/11 than concerns about our autos. (I never left Hughes, just got bought.)
2007-08-06 21:31:19
28.   El Lay Dave
My first car (in 1977) was a '66 Rambler, stock 199, three on the column, stipped. It was a dealer's "bait" car that my father, later to become a CPA, bought with cash after stubbornly refusing the switch. He wanted and got basic transportation. I drove through half my college years before it's solid unibody construction saved my from worse harm when a drunken coed traveling at freeway speed plowed her late model VW Rabbit into the rear of my slowly accelerating bolt-bucket.

Although I was eligible for the GM employee discount from 1985 until about 2000, we never bought a GM car.

Fast-forward to present, my latest car is a Prius. I live in L.A. I commute 68 miles a day round-trip. I have a carpool lane sticker. I am less insane than I used to be.

2007-08-06 23:59:50
29.   Voxter
I just wanted to say that *please explain* in general and this one in particular are why this is my favorite blog on these here interwebs.
2007-08-07 06:29:53
30.   jgpyke
Five dollar gas is a "certainty"? Maybe someday. I personally doubt it will be anytime soon, but no one can say for sure. I think oil would need to be about $200/bbl before that happens, though.

Scott--as much as you drive, too bad you can't get a Japanese diesel. Diesels last forever, get good mileage, and you could even do the biodiesel bit. However, it seems that only German cars (read: unreliable, expensive to fix) are the only real diesel option in the US, sadly.

2007-08-07 08:16:20
31.   Scott Long
I looked at a VW diesel a few years back, but was worried about breaking down in a smaller town (see above) and being stranded and eventually gouged, as no one would be able to fix it. I looked at the first Prius and wondered if mechanics would have a problem with it as well.
2007-08-07 08:26:11
32.   weatherman
22 - One can get 10K, 12K, 15K, or sometimes even 20K leases. I live in an area where a 1/2 hour commute is considered long, though. I'm sure it differs from place to place.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.