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Conveyance Considerations

Posted on 2007.03.06 at 20:58
Current Location: 63134
Current Music: Best Film 100 Classics

I like American-made cars. That's no secret. Perhaps it was simply the era in which I grew up? Either way, I have a particular distaste for Japanese cars. That is, until fairly recently.

These aren't the droids you're looking for.

And I'm damn picky. I generally drive a vehicle into the ground before I decide to buy a new one. None of this lease business for me. I easily put 25k miles a year on my cars - well over the quota for a lease.

And while my first car spoiled me for V8's, it's been a long, rocky road ever since. I like my car, don't get me wrong - it was the car for the time. I had a 150-mile commute putting 3000 monthly on my car and my aging Lumina was costing me $400 a month just to keep running. I traded it in for a used Cav with under 9000 miles on it for under $200 a month and once I had the windows tinted Texas-legal dark, I was set. But the savings in a few mpg turned out to not be worth the cost in horsepower. Unfortunately for me, this car has been a workhorse, with very little mechanical incidents. It just keeps running.

Fast forward to my first trip to D.C. last year. I'm at a pre-meeting for my client's largest event, in the middle of summer, and we're let go fairly early. My flight (which I ended up missing anyway) wasn't for several hours, and photogoot stopped to pick me up. As we leave the hotel I ask, "Where's your little tin can?" Referring to his despised VW Jetta.

Sorry baby, but I had to crash that Honda.

He leads me to this rather large, gleaming silver vehicle. It was magnificent! I asked him (ok, I instructed him to turn on the air - hey, I was dying here) and he thankfully complied. Unfortunately, what happened next neither of us really talk about, but I opened two doors to the vehicle and stripped naked (I was wearing a coat, tie, and a t-shirt under my white shirt - they were all completely soaked) and quickly changed into shorts and a polo. Once we were underway and I cooled off, I asked the obvious question, "WTF is this?"

This, as it turned out, was a 2004 Toyota Avalon Touring. And in The Blues Brothers fashion, as soon as I began to criticize him for purchasing a 'Tee-Oh-Ta' (as my father-in-law calls them) he floors the accelerator propelling us to over 100 mph! Shit! 280-horsepower V6 he tells me. (Later, he imparts a very humorous story about out-running a youth in his brand-spanking-new Mustang, a feat he himself was unaware that his car could pull off, and embarrassing his young opponent to frustration).

Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now!

Now he's got my attention. And the car was $6000 less than the American-made equivalent he was first considering. Very interesting indeed. Either way, I'm pretty picky. I prefer a coupe, I don't like spending too much money on car (they're not investments like a house, for example) and I don't want an inline-four. This greatly limits my scope. I can't afford a BMW or Mercedes, and GM's are too over-priced. Chrysler, in their rush to world-domination, has decided that America wants a 4-door sports sedan. Odd, they never asked me! What to do, what to do...

photogoot, who sometimes knows me better than I know myself, called several months later and suggested the new yet-to-be-released 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe. "Not interested." I say immediately. You see, the last time I drove an Altima was in 2000, it was rental car I had in Massachusetts. I drove it for a week before taking it back and demanding an American-made car. They replaced it with an Oldsmobile Alero, which I was quite at home in. Either way, Altima - ugh!

Darkness warshed over the dude.

Bored, perhaps, or some other mentally debilitating affliction led me to follow up his lead. I ate crow the next day when I called him. THIS! THIS IS WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR! I exclaimed. Of course, he already knew that. So...when the time comes, whenever it may be, I believe I've found my next car. Hopefully, things will work to my advantage where it will be between one and two years old by the time I'm ready for it. I no longer purchase new cars. I unveil to you know, the 270-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe:

A running tally, replete with photographs of all my cars is also available on my links list.


galinda822 at 2007-03-07 03:14 (UTC) (Link)
Nice - very, very nice! Hopefully one day it'll become your reality.

I might have to check it out when I'm ready to trade mine in! :)
ehowton at 2007-03-07 16:56 (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you like it. My wife thinks its me. She initially wanted me to buy a Dodge Status R/T (an upgraded replacement to my Sebring LXi) but if this car is less expensive - and since the Stratus R/T is no longer available, I'm going to keep my eye out for this one!
ximo at 2007-03-07 03:44 (UTC) (Link)
So you're just now realizing that the more modern japanese imports aren't what you're used to from the late 80s/early 90s? Any particular reason you're looking only for a v6+? Mind you, there are several naturally aspirated 200-240+ HP inline-4s. When you consider the weight of alot of these more modern ~300 HP v6 cars vs the 4 bangers, it's pretty much even (and in several cases, in the poor little 4 banger's favor).
ehowton at 2007-03-07 16:00 (UTC) (Link)
A couple, actually:

  1. I want something a little larger and more substantial than your average econobox chassis. I want something in the size of my Sebring. Yes, the Sebring came in an available 4-cylinder engine, and yes that would have been woefully underpowered. The only way a naturally aspirated 200-240+ HP inline-4 is going to satiate me is if I am tucked again into a tiny car. I'm looking for something a little more 'adult sized' these days.

  2. Smoothness. I read a study several years back on the harmonics of different types of engines. The V12 was a perfectly balanced engine and created no unwanted forces. Bar none, the smoothest engine ever made. As you can image, the inline-four was one of the worst. Its shaky like a nervous Chihuahua with a full bladder. They're loud and their harsh. Smoothness factor = Zero. A lot of the V6's have had counter-rotating balancers inserted (yes adding weight) to nullify a good portion of errant forces. Simply put, a V6 is just a smoother ride.

ximo at 2007-03-07 19:53 (UTC) (Link)
As far as size goes, i can totally see that. Very few of the naturally aspirated higher HP inline-4s are in a 'family sized' car. My next car will most likely be a v6 for that very reason (unless i go ahead and get a 2 seater roadster instead).

As far as harmonics go, i do remember back when there was a noticable difference between 4 and 6 in terms of smoothness, but that gap has been greatly narrowed over the past ~5-10 years. Besides, if it was still a really big deal, i would go with a RX-8 as the harmonics on a rotary engine by design are very good (as i remember) and it's got a good amount of space.

What it really comes down to is what you personally like in a car. I really, really want to like an american car, but frankly, haven't found one that didn't look...unimpressive. As things currently stand, i'm looking between Honda, Mazda, and BMW.
ehowton at 2007-03-07 21:55 (UTC) (Link)
I have several issues with the above, and most of them boil down to total cost of ownership. First and foremost, I'm not going to spend more than $30,000 on a vehicle. Secondly, even if the most modestly priced BMW were under $30k, have you ever compared the price of a headlight of a BMW to say, a Chevrolet? Unbelievable. I'm looking for something fairly powerful, yes, but not at a high cost of ownership. Insurance alone would make my eyes bleed.

The Mazda RX-8 is not a true coupe.

I feel the same way about Honda's as you do about American-made cars. Still, I might at some point consider the yet-to-be-released Accord Coupe. I really just can't see myself driving a Honda. And in that respect sir, you are exactly right, it comes down to what you personally like in a car.
This Is Me, Ten Sticks
lehah at 2007-03-07 23:14 (UTC) (Link)
You need one of these

Not that I should talk. I drive one of these

ehowton at 2007-03-08 00:10 (UTC) (Link)
Very nice indeed. Yeah, I'm in the same boat, except that I still own my '68 Dodge for all the good it does me:

drax0r at 2007-03-09 03:08 (UTC) (Link)
The new 2008 Altima Coupe seems to based upon the current Infinity G35.
ehowton at 2007-03-09 03:11 (UTC) (Link)
I'll have to research that. Thanks.
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