10 January 2011

Didn't realize I was into that kind of thing

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this. I really didn't think I was that kind of guy. I mean, I was CERTAIN that I wasn't that kind of guy.... until a few days ago.

You see, I'd always thought of cars as mere tools... just a way to get me and my things from point A to point B. Nothing more, nothing less. I have a long history of economical, practical driving relationships... 1990 Accura Integra, 1989 Toyota Camry, 2001 Honda Civic, and most recently, a 1997 Kia Sephia. No-frills, high miles, and for the most part, very fuel efficient vehicles. My most recent tool, the Kia, had been showing signs of trouble all year... the driver's side door handle broke, the vent system for the heating / AC did not work, it seems to have an annual appetite for ignition coils (not something one should have to replace every 5,000 miles), and the car reminded me of someone with nicotine shakes... the voltage in the electrical system would flutter - the headlights would pulsate in small cycles of brightness. It almost looked like I was running a stereo that was SO powerful, the amplifier was selfishly sucking up most of the car's juice to make the bass hit hard.... except that it wasn't.

Last tuesday morning, like an onery 6 year old who refuses to put her shoes on to leave for church, the Kia was not in the mood to start. It was obstinate. Cranking the engine over brought only sputtering protests. I knew this day was coming. I proceeded to jog to work, deciding to just go to work without her. Damn Kia can stay home, see if I care.

One of the routes I frequently deliver includes the Audi / Porsche dealership. There seems to be a certain kind of douchey person that the Audi dealership attracts... everyone is in a black turtle neck, everyone has a meticulously messy haircut, and everyone is wearing thick black rimmed glasses. Everyone reminds me of Steve Jobs. Everyone seems to look "artsy" but yet, one can tell that they really are just "accountanty". Audi drivers are lame, lame, lame.

Back to my dead Kia...

I was very stressed out. It was over due for inspection, it needed a host of repairs before it would pass, and I was not in a position to dump large amounts of money into this car. For those of you who have known me for a while, there was a point where I lived for 18 months without a car. My lifestyle has changed quite a bit since then, and a car is a complete necessity. I have weekly bass lessons in Draper, band practice (requiring me to transport bass and amplifier), and weekly photo shoots that often require some driving. And then there's the issue of getting to Logan to see my girls... I was stressed about my stranded state.

I was chatting with a friend about finding a repair shop, when he suggested that I buy his car from him. He had a car sitting in his driveway that he just never used, and was pretty happy to liquidate. I initially laughed, as said car was, in my mind, fantastically out of my price range. I shared that perspective with him, and he replied with a price that was shockingly low. After confirming that he was not drunk or high, I quickly accepted the offer. The amount he wanted for this car was, in all likelihood, very near the amount of money I'd need to sink into the Kia to get it back up and running in a reliable way... so it seemed a no-brainer.

One of the big lessons I seem to keep re-learning in life is that we often become just like those that we chide.

I just bought an Audi.

Hold on while I find my black turtleneck douche bag uniform...

The car could have been an old Honda, and it would have still been a fantastic deal. I really knew nothing about what it means to drive an Audi. For years, I have slightly scoffed at those who put resources into driving luxury European cars. It made no sense to me.


....until now.

See that filthy little A4 sitting in the garage? She and I just got done with a dirty romp on I-15. She is NOT a cheap date. She likes premium, and drinks it like a fish.

I must say though... she puts out. WOW, does she ever.... that was an amazing ride. She has more energy than cars 1/10th her age. Flawless body, incredibly responsive, and curves... I mean takes the curves, in a most enchanting way.

I get it now. I hate to admit this, but I'm in love with this car. I never thought I'd say that about ANY car, but I'm there now. This 1999 Audi A4 Quattro 2.8 is an amazing machine. It's got 127k miles on it, and yet it feels more new than most new cars. The leather interior is in perfect condition. The engine is oozing with power. The speedometer goes up to 160, and I totally believe it. I drove through snowy conditions in the canyon, and the quattro all wheel drive made that car stick to the road like white on rice. I've never been in a more sure footed vehicle. On the way home, I-15 was relatively empty and the roads were dry. I really struggled to not cruise at 95mph. This car drives so quietly, so smoothly, and with so much untapped power, 80mph feels like a granny's pace. The engine's boredom at anything less than 100mph is palpable. Like a man whose lover wants it again for the 7th time, but is overtaken by an inescapable 3 hour refractory period, I wished I could give Ms. A4 more, but I could not.

I won't bore you with all of the details about this car, it must suffice to say that it's really a work of art. The construction and design of this vehicle are incredible. Okay, I will bore you with this detail... I stopped for a latte before leaving Logan. Just before entering Sardine, I noticed that there was a pleasant, understated red glow illuminating the white lid of my coffee cup as it sat in the designated cup holder. I shit you not - there is a tiny red spot light that comes on to illuminate your drink, that matches the color of all the rest of the illuminated dash controls. Art, I tell you.

ROBBERY! Robbery, I tell you! At this point in the story, we have arrived back in SLC, and I'm topping off the tank before going home. I say "topping off" in a very liberal sense. What I really mean is "filling up". I left for Logan with a full tank of gas, and somehow, I've burned a large portion of it. 11 gallons in 211 miles? But... but... but.... my Kia got 35 miles / gallon!

I know, I know... I should not compare the two, just like you should not try to compare your current girlfriend to a past lover. You'll always walk away from that inner dialogue feeling funky. The Kia is probably not capable of speeds sufficient to arouse the interest of a highway patrolman. The Audi could probably outrun the highway patrolman, and if I'm to be honest with you, I fantasised about doing just that, all the way home.

I'm still mulling over the new ramifications of this new relationship to driving. I never thought I'd be a "car guy".... but I'm seriously considering committing. I've never had so much fun driving. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, that car will require a lot of maintenance... but wow. I'm kind of hooked.

Driving kicks ass now. I'm 16 all over again.

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