After much delay and consideration I went out and leased a new car yesterday. I say "delay" and "consideration" because I really was undecided which way to go. Over the years, I’ve leased a Jaguar, a Mercedes, an Acura Legend, and a Miata, among others.
In each instance, the car seemed to perfectly define a different stage in my life. The little, red Miata, for example, was probably the coolest car I’ve driven, and fit my early, midlife crisis to a "T." That said, it was also totally impractical in so many ways: it was a true nightmare on icy roads, looked more like a motorcycle than a car and made my heart skip a beat whenever I considered the odds of surviving any accident.
The Mercedes was my first "arrival" car. I say "arrival" because, in my mind, owning a Mercedes tells the world you’ve arrived. It makes a statement that says, "hey world, look at me. I’m doing pretty well." And, when I leased the Mercedes, I thought I had, in fact, arrived (now, a little older and, hopefully, a little wiser, I see "arrival" not as a destination but, instead, as an opportunity to hopefully give a little bit back). Anyway, the Mercedes turned out to be a total lemon, with one malfunction after another. I can still remember driving to the train station in the middle of winter with all four power windows stuck in the open position. So, where was Dr. Z when I needed him?
From the mediocre Mercedes, I moved on to an elegant Jaguar S-class sedan that featured a British racing car green exterior with tan, leather interior (btw, don’t you just love the sound of "British racing car green?"). This was a cool, sophisticated car reflecting hey, a cool, sophisticated guy, right? Well, I can dream…
So, my three years with the Jag came and went, and I turned the car in about two months ago. Since then, I’ve been in quandary. What do I do? Should I go with another Jag since I’d had such a positive experience? What about Lexus? We lease a Lexus SUV and love it for family needs. How about giving Mercedes another shot? What about Audi or BMW?
Then, it hit me. I wasn’t even thinking of GM, Ford or Chrysler. And, in fact, I never do. Despite years of marketing and billions of advertising dollars, "Detroit" has never put a "dent" in my thinking. In my mind, I equate American cars with everything I am not. I know that sounds terrible, and I hope Republicans don’t see those words as either unpatriotic or anti-war, but that’s just how I feel.
A man’s car projects his image. So, while some guys opt for the sleekest, fastest and hottest European sports cars, and others look to display their machismo with gas-guzzling Hummers, I want a slightly more understated machine. And, I’m open to Asian or European models. But, I would never, ever dream of going Detroit (and I simply can’t see that changing any time soon).
It’s probably more car than I need but, in the end, I’m really excited about it and am really looking forward to the next 36 months with my ultimate driving machine.
So, Detroit, how do we reconnect in late 2009? I really would like to factor you guys in my thinking the next time around. But until you can convince me that one of your cars will accurately reflect my image and reputation, I’m afraid I’ll continue playing hard to get.