Tuesday, August 09, 2005

And Now, For Something Totally Unrelated to the Primordial Swamp

I've been holding off on publishing this next post for a variety of reasons, some rational, some superstitious. There are still a few loose ends to tie up, but by and large, I think we can say that the whole business is complete -- so now I can talk.

Long story short -- North Dallas Thirty's beloved Saab 9-2x, chosen with the help of you loyal readers, Allies, Worthy Adversaries, and regular/irregular commentors from here and Boi from Troy, is no more.

Just over a month after I got it, I was headed south on the Dallas North Tollway for lunch. Suddenly, a car about six lengths ahead braked crazily, skidding to a stop in the middle lane, cars diving in all directions. Instantly, I was faced with a choice -- rear-end this person and others at 60 miles per hour or dodge left and try to thread between the wall and the sideways cars.

I chose the latter.

The Saab did its best to hold on, but the angle was too extreme to avoid clipping the center wall with the left front. Instantly the car went into a 360-degree spin back across the three three lanes of oncoming traffic -- during which I remember distinctly watching the world roll by and thinking, "OK, I am DEFINITELY going to be late for my 1:30 meeting."

With a SLAM, the car hit the guardrail head on, the hood disintegrating, a huge splash of acid from the battery splattering on the windshield.....then, as the guardrail flexed, the car bounced off, spinning 180 degrees and coming to rest with its back bumper scrunched against the guardrail, perpendicular to the roadway, about twenty feet away from where I had first hit.

Yes, the other driver was cited -- numerous times. However, that didn't undo the damage to both ends of the car, the engine hacking itself to death when the timing chain shattered, the frame bending in two spots, and the fact that every single body panel on the car had acid burns on it.

Amazingly enough, I walked away without any damage whatsoever, not even next-day stiffness. Indeed, had the wreck not happened where it did, things could have been much worse; ten feet earlier, and there would have been no guardrail to stop the car from crossing grass, then a service road, then a curb, then more grass -- the recipe for an end-over-end flip that would have put me in the hospital for weeks and off sodomy for a month.

Putting the obvious aside that I was damn lucky and blessed, if there is a lesson you take away from NDT's experience, children, let it be that buying a rare car automatically triples the time required to do anything, be it taking it apart, pricing how much it will cost to fix, then figuring out how much the car is actually worth -- especially when it's the first time the collision center of the dealer who sold you the car, the insurance adjustor, and the appraiser has ever seen one, much less tried to estimate and fix major damage to it, then throw up their hands and total it. Suffice to say that NDT has been driving the most insipid of rental cars -- a two-door Chevrolet Cobalt with less in the way of modern power conveniences than an outhouse -- for just under two months.

So what has replaced the hardy Saab? As of tonight, a 2005 Mazda3s 5-door hatchback in Black Mica with Black leather interior, well-equipped with power moonroof, six-CD changer, xenon headlights, tire pressure monitoring system -- and oddly enough, antilock brakes, side airbags, and side curtain airbags. Most importantly, it's an automatic -- 4-speed sport with manual mode, to be exact.

Don't laugh. For those who aren't familiar with me, my buying a car with an shift-itself tranny is akin to Benedict XVI telling the Catholic Church to hand out contraceptives and bless gay marriages. However, when you're in love, you do unusual things -- especially when you are about to move to a city where your house and its allied parking spots are on the side of a hill pointing straight down. It tends to make one question one's belief that automatic transmissions are the automotive equivalent of prostitution -- meant only for those who can't manage their own.

I'll be blogging more about das Auto in the future. Consider this an open thread to tell us about your vehicle and what you think its characteristics say about you.

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