Sunday, March 05, 2006

End of an Era?

Recent events have caused a rather obvious and yet profound problem. I am, in a word, carless.

The problem is exacerbated by a couple of things. My car of choice, the Saab 900, is no longer produced, except in a debased form by General Motors. SAAB has more or less been dismantled. In fact, its headquarters are now officially in Detroit. Furthermore, even if I liked the cars, I couldn't afford them, seeing as how they are now aimed at the "luxury" segment of the market.

Last year, my father stopped driving them after having done so for 30 years, and I'm afraid that I may have to do the same.

But it gets worse. There are a few cars that I could be happy in, I think. They are cars which meet a certain basic level of safety (for which I have newfound respect) and performance (which I think has a certain bearing on safety) and a wee bit of style. In short, I want a car that runs, isn't a dog or a deathtrap, and doesn't look like crap outside, or have flimsy plastic bits everywhere inside. In cars made after 1998 or so, this is easy -- pretty much every car produced now is a luxury racer with an airbag and a dvd surround massage system with latte injection. I can't afford them.

This leaves pretty much one option, as far as I can tell: the 1992-1997 Volvo 850. More or less in my price range, first front-wheel Volvo, which adds to Volvo's bevy of safety features, quick and stylish. My new ride.

One little problem: very few of them, especially the more desirable ones with leather and/or turbochargers, are available with manual transmissions. I'm afraid I can't stand automatics. I don't feel like I'm driving.

What to do...I suppose it doesn't matter anyway, since I won't have enough cash for a new automobile until my insurance settlement happens (who knows when, or if they won't be able to wiggle out of it) or I receive a major donation or loan. (I've had some loan offers, to be honest, but I'm trying to avoid more debt.)

So what will it be? Anachronistic deathtrap or snore-worthy slushbox sedan? Stay tuned. Also there will be more pictures of the wreck, which currently adorns my lawn. (Insurance might need to see it, y'know?)

Thanks to all for your support.
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