blue body/tan top comparison

there's a blue/tan mazda miata that is owned by one of the property people at my apartment. it was essentially the only clue i had as to what my car would look like once built. i was able to grab a parking space in front of it and snap this hiptop pic for comparative purposes. note how the darker body also has a darker tan roof -- pulling the overall "median color" line darker. i think the miata looks a tad better.


finally, the ugly details

the day i got my car was sunny and crisp. since then it's rained nearly non-stop every day. the thing i hate absolutely the most about new cars is all the treatment that needs to be done -- and this car has had more than any i've ever owned, namely:

* wash and treat the roof with UV and fabric protectant
* treat the seats with UV and leather protectant
* treat the seams of the seats with a different UV protectant
* treat the dash with UV protectant
* scotch guard the rugs
* wash and wax the car
* treat all the rubber trim with rubber protectant

i'm an ignore-the-wheels kind of guy, thank god. so i don't have to worry about that.

professional car guys don't do a level of work that i like (real sloppy on the fine points) and you have to watch 'em like hell or they'll use armorall (which i really really hate).

so finally, with a break in the weather, it's taken me two days and about 12 hours of my labor but i've got it covered.

the car is easy to wash, but a little tough to wax. it stands high on the hoof and reaching the center of the high spots is tricky. also the grille on the front takes a fair amount of fine detail.

everything else is both as tedious and reasonable as you'd guess.

but now i'm set. and now i drive.


the closest of calls

i damn near got hit today. really close. close enough that i thought i might have actually hit the guy, but didn't.

i was driving up lawrence expressway, 55mph, pretty crowded and a guy just cut right into my lane. i had to have been in his blind spot.

something i need to watch in the future. glad i didn't have to deal with it in the present -- with less than 300 miles on the odometer.

break-in weirdness

thanks to the wonders of the internet, i've been able to read the owner's manual even before i got a car.

here're some key things to watch out for:

page 115
"drive moderately during the first 300mi. after the initial 60mi [don't ask me what the hell you were supposed to do for the first 60 -- the manual doesn't say], speeds up to 50 or 55mph are desirable.

"while cruising, brief full-throttle acceleration, within the limits of local traffic laws, contributes to a good break-in. wide open throttle acceleration in low gear can be detrimental and should be avoided."

[my brother, the world's best mechanical engineer, thinks this is just bizarre beyond words.]

page 349
"avoid towing a trailer for the first 500mi of vehicle operation."

[um, i don't see a problem here. i don't see a car and think, "tow."]

and maybe the weirdest thing of all
page 391
"for vehicles with a turbo enginer, a small amount of oil accumulation in the air cleaner box is normal. the amount will depend on driving style. the air cleaner box should be cleaned out and a new make-up-air filter element should be installed during the normal air filter maintenance procedure."

[i asked my brother why this might be true and got an illuminating response {that i can't find in my in-box right now}, this is almost certainly an engineering hack. the turbo is puttking too much pressure on engine internals so it's using the air filter as an over-blow area. i'll add more if/when i find his mail.]


a new car in nazi-land

today i have a new car.

after going through a nearly infinite amount of detail and a lot of back-and-forth with multiple dealers, as well as the cartelligent people, i gotta car.

the dark blue paint is a tad darker than i was expecting. the color contrast is striking. i definitely have never seen a car in this combo (although you and i both know there's probably one sitting on the other side of the bay this second).

the leather seats feel luxurious, although they're still really stiff.

the stereo sounds amazingly good. i mean really good. i mean better than any car stereo i've ever heard -- even in the other convertible cruisers i've rented. but i'm not sure why. yes, i got the stereo upgrade, something which i wasn't expecting much from, and that's definitely part of it. but there's more to it than that. it's probably something like the amount of air space in the car, maybe combined with the roof shape and the fact that the (fabric) top is three layer? the leather seats might help a tad in the way they absorb sound. no reverb. no echo.

the CD mechanism is funny. it's 6 CDs in normal audio or MP3 format, all in-dash. (no MP3 jack -- they didn't make the rev. to the convertibles for end-of-the-line.) you can hear a lot of shuffling when you switch from one disc to the next. i'm glad that thing's warrantied. you can't do that crazy kind of shuffling forever -- especially on a mechanism that is continually shaken throughout its life.

the car feels heavy. has a real okay-here-we-go feeling -- especially when you head into a curve a little hot. and no wonder. with a curb weight of 3400 pounds it's 1000 pounds heavier than my del sol.

it smells like a new car, only more so.

the owner's manual is bound together and shrink wrapped, but weirdly, the cover has a crease in it. it's been wrinkled, un-wrinkled and wrapped. that's just sloppy.

you can tell the car's loaded -- the little switch spot below the heater controls is full to the brim ... every car i've ever driven (including rentals) has had a gap.

and one of the coolest things? the window sticker on the car, at the very top, has printed "this car expressly made for b1-66er."

after i take a short test-drive, and sign a TON of papers.

one of the cartelligent secretaries was getting in her car while we were messing around with mine. she stopped and said, "that car looks really great."

"you work for cartelligent. you're supposed to say that to a customer."

"no! no! i normally hate the cruiser. i think they're butt ugly. but that one's really really nice."

i guess you can't ask for much more than that.

the cartelligent guy recommends taking a scenic drive -- essentially through marin just north of the golden gate bridge before the drive home. the day is crisp and cool but sunny. if i drive kennedy style with the car and seat heaters on, it should be a great ride.

and it is. real curvy, which is not the cruiser hallmark of rides, but spectacular first go.

i save the worst for last here though. and this is bad bad bad. when i'm filling out the zillions of papers i'm told that i have to fill out a loan application, even though i'm paying cash for the car. why? get this: homeland security.

that's right, the federal government wants to know about anyone spending more than US$10,000 cash for ANYTHING as a matter of "national security."

and this is complete and utter, in a phrase that i have never used in print before (only because i haven't had to), bullshit.

this is wrong at a level that's hard to imagine.

james madison said:

"it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

= and also =

"liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”

what have we forgotten in 225 years? freedom of the citizens is not a difficult or hard concept. you let law-abiding citizens do their thing. you don't ask for an ID to buy a pack of bubblegum.

why is this okay and where does it end?

i filled out the forms but refused my social security number (SSN). (there's a CA law that, thank god, says you don't have to provide your SSN for anything that is not tax purposes -- i'd bet a bundle of cash that the federal government couldn't over-shadow that law.) the cartelligent guy flinched, but went ahead and ran the forms. i have no idea if he filled in a fake SSN or what, but i know i got my car.

it sounds both alarmist and extremist, but this type of business is the act of a fascist state. a bad event on an otherwise good day. i should just ignore it, but i won't.

for the first 300 miles of the car break-in period i'm not supposed to drive faster than 55mph. on the way home it's hard not to turn the stereo up full blast, floor it and remember that sweet sweet time when could do this in a galaxie 500 without the government looking over your shoulder on 35 cent a gallon gas.


delivery date

although i don't actually get my hands on my car for another six days, today is technically the day of delivery (because of the dealer/cartelligent lag). this is the official starting of the clock for all-things-warranty, namely the 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and much more importantly, the 5-year powertrain check (to keep that warranty valid).

1/11 easy to remember.