Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Much Maligned Honda Element

New cars are different, new houses are different, new vaccum cleaners are different. They work well, they are hyper-efficient, they gain strength through clever engineering of the cheapest materials, they are extremely technolgically impressive and, when they are working perfectly, you forget they are there. Old cars, especially unrestored project cars, never let you forget you are driving. You are very involved, trying to coax the car into the correct lane as you have drifted across 2 lanes and are threatening the center divider, while sniffing 'is that smoke?', listening to that tic-tic-tic that seems to be getting louder 'is that a loose rocker?', as the heater blasts you on the hottest summer day and you are, at every moment, on every Sunday drive, with your arm across that beautiful red vinyl bench seat, in grave peril.

Extremely rigid exoskeletons, no wasted parts, nothing over-engineered, ergonomically evolved in ways that Darwin would never believe, cars are becoming like natural objects. Everything in common with nature except they don't age well. Soon, we will be driving honeycombs powered by cockroaches.

For all the bad things I say about the Honda Element, inability to carry tremendous quantities of Korean king mink blankets is not among them.