Is it strange that I tend to define the last ten or so years of my life by each Prius I was driving at the time? My first Prius — which must have been one of the earliest ones to roll off the assembly line — was purchased in a moment of anger after George Bush was elected. The controversial decision over Al Gore had me convinced that the environment was going to be the big loser. Casting about for something I could do immediately to tip the balance, I latched on to the then new idea of a hybrid car. If you remember those early cars, they were something only an environmentalist could love. The tiny back seat was too small for any passengers but children and, because Japan probably thought people here would only buy it for ethical reasons, they didn’t bother with any amenities. You got cloth seats, hand rolling windows and maybe a cheap stereo system. Everything else was manual or missing.
Still, I loved that Prius, which I immediately dubbed “Old Paint”. Paint and me, we took some great roadtrips together, including the first leg of my Mission Mission where Old Paint was nearly flattened by a giant tumbleweed somewhere north of Bakersfield. I’d probably still be traveling with that trusty steed, except that the addition of an extra terrier meant that I couldn’t fit two dog crates in the tiny back seat. Actually I could jam them back there provided I put them in such tiny crates they couldn’t stand up and shoved the crates so close together that the air holes were practically covered. Clearly that wasn’t working for the terriers, so Old Paint was put out to pasture and in 2009. I upgraded to the newer hatchback model in red. Old Roany allowed for some bigger crates and even some cargo in addition to terriers. Roany worked out so well that I took her on even more extended themed roadtrips such as my Road Less Traveled. There was even enough room in Roany to have a terrier ride shotgun.
But time marches on and now I find myself driving hundreds of miles a week as I shuttle between San Jose, San Francisco and Sonoma. Now I’m someone who will drive a car for years until it dies by the side of the road. But Andy can calculate for you the exact moment when you stop being able to get top dollar for your used car and the resale value starts to plummet. He decided Roany was at that point. This week! I contemplated other cars for about five minutes. But it was really only going to be another Prius. I know many of you, my well meaning friends, have blathered on to me about torque and engine size and the relative merits of diesel. But here’s the thing. There is really only one criteria for me. I like to drive small cars as I find them easier to handle and park. But I can’t go any smaller than a car that can load two tandem roomy terrier crates. Toyota seems to have perfected the smallest car body style that allows for the largest terrier crates. With Audi or BMW, I would have to get a much bigger car to have comparable terrier room. So no further contemplation was needed. A Prius it was.
I set out to Stevens Creek Toyota to cut my next mount out of the herd. And there she was: the last of the 2013 models in Sea Glass Pearl.
Best of all, since I had Paint and Roany to trade in, so I got the new one for the price of two Priuses, a few box tops and a book of Green Stamps. Nearly. Not that the dealer was going to let me drive off the lot for that low, low price. Apparently, it now takes hours, AFTER YOU WRITE THE CHECK, to be allowed to drive away in your new car. However, after refusing additional warranties, undercoating, Lo-Jacks and service agreements, I was finally given the keys and allowed to leave.
But as I drove off the lot, panic gripped me. What kind of Old West horse name could I come up with for a mount that was Sea Glass Pearl — surely a color that would be unknown to John Wayne. Luckily, I have a five year old Goddaughter who has schooled me on the fact that the only ponies that count are My Little Ponies. I even know the names of many of them, although I do get mixed up on some of their magical powers and which ones are unicorns. However, I do know the one with the rainbow colored mane and tale who can fly and has a body that, in some lights, could be called Sea Glass Pearl.
Congratulations on your new Dash! We went with a diesel VW Jetta wagon for many of the same reasons you started with Priuses. It’s still small but it has plenty of room for one 50 lb mongrel between the back storage area and the front seats. She snuffles in our ears as we drive, livening up the process considerably with her tickles.
I too drive my cars until they drive no more. My first after college, a VW diesel Rabbit, was with me 10 years. My next, an Acura, almost 7 then I move to NYC where you can rent a car every weekend of the year for less than it costs to maintain, insure and garage your own wheels. Relocating to Tampa at the height of the Obama crash-and-melt economy,I decided to buy American, and NOT from some foreign company nor any that sucked up taxpayer dollars handed out by Obama when he gave away the industry to the labour ions and foreign interests…a FORD. A Ford Fusion Hybrid, to be exact. I too wanted to do my part on many levels.. But it hD to have a trunk big enough for golf clubs….slightly more space required than terrier domains! I love it!
I, too, really wanted to buy American and I seriously considered the Ford Focus. But I took down the crates and they wouldn’t fit in tandem in the back — which is they way they have to be placed so that both terriers get airflow from air conditioning. So the Focus was eliminated from the search. The Prius just seems to be slightly wider than any other car its size. Perfect for those of us with canine passengers.
I am a proud Prius owner. In fact, my father, my sister, my nephew and I are proud Prius owners. My Dad got his first (it was so unique at the time that he was getting pulled over by police just so they could see it!) and he is now on his third. Mine is finally paid off which means it will die soon. That’s ok with me. I’m ready for a new one.
The worst part of buying a new car is the waiting, presumably while the sales rep takes your offer in to the Sales Manager to see if it will be accepted, and then the to-ing and fro-ing and attempts to jack on all kinds of extra charges. Wears me out. Almost makes you willing to go up a percentage point or three on the cost. Still, it’s so worth it when you drive off the lot. Last time I shopped, I got Subaru to throw in their nifty folding all-terrain wagon for free. It makes an awesome float when Empress Britta surveys her principality.