The Clunker or the Cadillac?

1 01 2008

Dear AlexG: I’m driving a clunker but I don’t want to buy a new car until they’re like super energy efficient. How long will I have to wait?

Low ‘Carb’ Babe

Dear LCB,

I hope you’re young. Very young. Keep driving that clunker, which is probably getting better gas mileage than most new cars (with the exception of the hybrids — but only in city driving). Let’s hope for a “change” on the political horizon and a heavy investment in fuel-cell, ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, hydrogen, and other technologies. Sure, we would all like to see cars whose thermal byproducts were environmentally friendly, but how about some spankin’ hot design!

Is it just me, or isn’t every “box on wheels” the same in small, medium, large, extra-large and behemoth? Even the futuristic concept cars are boring. What happened to fins, chrome, fenders and grills? Auto design mediocrity is polluting the landscape as much as mediocre fuel efficiency. Let’s put some swank back in the tank.

And while we’re on the subject of transportation, how about transforming our vast web of 19th century train track into maglev bullet trains swooshing one and all from town to town across this great land … Let the car charge in the garage for a while and catch a glide on the Appalachian Eagle or the Park-Beverly Transcontinental Express. Just thinking about the dining car (all that china! the quadruple plate!), the bar car (“L’amour, l’amour — how it does get you down“), and the first class sleeper (does anyone really ever sleep?) makes me want to rush out and buy a ticket.

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