Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Outlaw Car I Desire

It was an evil looking car.  

I rent fun cars for fun on the regular, because I am old, of a generation that still thought cars were cool.  Convertibles. Sports cars.  Luxury cars.  All of the vehicles that I find delightful, but that I lack the resources or desire to own.  I'll request contributions to my rental car fund for birthdays and Christmakkah, and on a beautiful weekend, I'll get one for my pleasure.  

This last weekend, it was a 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392, rented through a service from an utterly friendly dude who lives nearby.

Menacing.  A little too obviously criminal, the sort of vehicle driven by a villain in a slightly dumb but entertaining movie intended for the undiscerning masses.

Dark as night, the wheels similarly blackened, what is now typically called "murdered-out" in the car community.  The engine, an immense eight cylinder, each bank of the vee larger than the straight-six under the hood of the perfectly quick BMW I last rented.  The exhaust note ranged from a growling rumble to a snarling, vicious roar, and unlike the blatty falseness of so many "performance" exhausts, the bite was as deep as the bark.  Four hundred and eighty five horsepower gets you going real fast real quick.  Or it lights up the rear tires.  Get too hard on the throttle in a turn, and it sends you sideways.  Zero to sixty comes in the low fours, with a top speed of over a hundred and eighty.  

This was the sort of car that would have gotten me into some real trouble when I was seventeen. 

It radiated "outlaw," and I found myself very much noticing every single law enforcement officer I drove by.  The engine growled and spat as each patrol car passed, though I drove as gently as I could.  Because people...and make assumptions about such a car.  Why drive one if you're not planning on doing something extralegal?  

Rumbling about in the beast for a few days got me thinking again about a car that is actually an outlaw.  To possess this car and drive it on American roads is actually against the law, a criminal act, one with all sorts of penalties, including confiscation.  

I desire it.  In fact, I desire it so much I'd own one.  

Here it is:

Radiates menace, doesn't it?   It's a Honda N Box, which one pronounces En-uh Bock-su if you're a total weeb.  

It's a kei car, meaning a teeny tiny vehicle designed for Japanese cities and roads.  It comfortably seats four six footers, has all wheel drive, and all the modern safety features.  It's easy to get in and out of.  It is astoundingly practical, perfect for in town errands.  It gets over fifty to the gallon.  Though it's tiny, it has been designed to accommodate a wheelchair.  It's capable of puttering along all day on the highway at between 60 and 65.  It gets to 60...gradually.  Top speed?  Maybe eighty five, assuming you're going downhill with a following wind.  It costs, brand new, under twenty grand.

It is exactly what I need.  Not just want, because it's cute as a button, but need.  I don't need more car than this.  Most of us don't.

It is also illegal in America.

Some outlaws are bad.  And some outlaws are outlaws because the law is bad.  You'd think we'd know the difference.