Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Fascinations and Obsessions with our Cars

An automobile, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor. Most definitions of the term specify that automobiles are designed to run primarily on roads, to have seating for one to eight people, to typically have four wheels, and to be constructed principally for the transport of people rather than goods. And, interestingly, the United States is home to the largest passenger vehicle market of any country, which is a consequence of the fact that it has the largest Gross Domestic Product of any country in the world. Overall, there were an estimated 247,421,120 registered passenger vehicles in the United States according to a 2005 DOT study. This number, along with the average age of vehicles, has increased steadily since 1960, indicating a growing number of vehicles per capita.

Over the years, people have been obsessed and fascinated with specific kinds of cars – from powerful muscle cars to sleek sports cars. I vividly recall when I took my first job after graduating from undergraduate school as a high school English teacher – while I was saving money so I could go to graduate school, I still was fascinated and at times obsessed with the possibility of buying a new, 1966 Jaguar XKE Convertible (which at that time would have cost approximately my whole year’s teaching salary -- $5,000). I still think about it (and if you look at the picture herein, you may understand why), but today that car, in excellent condition, would cost about $100,000. But let’s remember, our dreams fortunately are free.

Many of the characters in my novels have their fantasy cars – for example, in My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days, Troy drives a vintage Corvette convertible and after their divorce Sheila buys a new, red, sporty two-door car with a sunroof; and in Fear of Feeling Loved, after a few paychecks at her new job, Marcia buys a new Chrysler Sebring Convertible. (See, it’s not only the boys with their toys.)

Okay, now I ask you: what car or cars are you or have you been fascinated and/or obsessed with?



Karen Minert said...

When I was 16, my Dad bought a 1968 Cutlass convertible. I was just learning to drive and having the top down was a great way to enjoy driving, especially in Florida. Some day I would like to have a convertible...

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Karen,
Thanks for the visit and Comment. A few additional details... that Cutlass also had a big-block V-8, glass-pack duel exhausts and could get up and go if you wanted it to. Was a fun car for sure! Someday you'll get a convertible...
Thanks again for the warm memory.
Hugs and love,

Jackie Minniti said...

I've never cared much about cars, EXCEPT for my very first one - a blue 1965 VW Beetle with big flower stickers on it. I must admit that whenever I see a picture of a VW Beetle, I experience a tug of nostalgia. I guess you never forget your first!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Jackie,
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your “first and memorable” car.
Oh yes, I vividly the mid-60s VWs! One of my fraternity brothers had a ’62 VW bus – we went everywhere with it (and you couldn’t kill it with a howitzer… it would just go and go!).
A thought: maybe one of the primary reasons our “first-” or “memorable-” is because we associate it with a great time in our lives? It sure sounds like your blue bug was part of a wonderful time in your life (or at least that’s how you remember it). My first wheels was a ’57 Chevy convertible… black, white roof and red leather interior, V-8 with dual exhausts, balloon skirts, etc. Was it a wonderful time in my life – you betcha!
Thanks again and come back soon,

Anonymous said...

Obsession and love of cars.... for YEARS it was more of a hate relationship with Dodge Darts! Yes they would run, kind of, until they almost hit 200,000 miles. BUT they were sure to break down, look horrid as they blew out black clouds! When I finally got rid of the last one I was forced to drive a Pinto Wagon if I wanted to complete my education. Finally at age 45 I was able to buy my OBSESSION. A Chrysler New Yorker that TALKED. How I loved that vehicle... and "George" who talked to me. I was very sad when it became time to trade that can in and found that they no longer made cars that talked! I do love my Dodge Caravans.. for long road trips and hauling treasures they are perfect --- their only fault is that they don't talk to me!

When rent a car, I always ask for a red convertible. Guess that's in response to my 'other self'.

Hugs, Malisa

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Malisa,
Thanks for "driving by" and sharing your experience. I never had a car that talked to me, but on many occasions when my old "graduate school, falling apart" cars were failing to start or limping along with the bellowing black smoke, I sure talked to them!
Enjoy your van and "red convertibles"... nothing "other-life about it" -- those convertible rentals simply are fun!
Be safe and stop by again,