Saturday, May 26, 2007

Car Thoughts...Old and New

Over on Q-Taro's blog, Roy has been providing updates of the progress towards realizing his new toy; a new factory-ordered Mazda Roadster RHT and its 5/30 Build Date.

I don't even know Roy, but am very excited for him.

Funny how good blogs do that to faithful followers.

That reminded me of how Dad used to order our family cars from the factory.

I can't remember exactly what year his Camaro Berlinetta was but I am sure it was a late 70's model.

Anyway...I remember Dad going through the options and working hard to get just the transmission, engine, rims, rear-differential gearing ratio, and so on...all picked out so the factory could build it.

It was quite a car and the few times I got to enjoy driving it, it was a lot of fun. The Berlinetta model was pretty unusual, and the options he added really made it seem classy and sporty.

Nowadays, I can't imagine "ordering" a car from a factory.

When I picked up my previous pickup-truck, it was a new one right off the lot and in stock.

When I went to trade it in years/miles later on my Saturn Ion, I did quite a bit of research on the Net, then used their website to search for a dealership that had a selection of 5-speed Ion-3 models and went to the dealership to look and, eventually, drive one home.

Do "average" dealerships even let you factory-order custom vehicle packages nowadays?

I know when Dad bought his latest car, the dealership he eventually went with did an inventory search and had to ship one from another location in the state. But that was really just ordering and finding one already built that matched his preferences...and I'm not talking of after-market dealer installed options. When I mean factory-ordered, I mean pick out all the different options and elements and they build the vehicle specifically for you.

Speaking of the Saturn Ion, looks like it will be gone next year.

I was talking to an inside source and it was mentioned that the new model's gas mileage will be lower as they are going from the iconic plastic side-panels to all-aluminum construction along with a larger engine size. In light of current events...that seems like a backwards move.

When I got my Ion I didn't really think about it, but I've come to really love and enjoy the plastic side-body panels. They really are durable. It's going to be weird for me to not see them.

While looking into that, I also learned that the Ion model as I know and love it is going to be dropped from the Saturn line. Coming in will be a more upscale (and $3400+ pricier) model build upon the GM Opel division brand in Europe. I'm not clear if Saturn will retain the Ion name or not. But if the pictures I've seen so are are the match...I'm not impressed and it won't be an Ion even if the name stays the same.

Gone will be the center console dash-pod Lavie and I have come to love and still gets second glances from passers-by in parking lots. Gone will be the sedan-styling. I think it will actually be a bit shorter than the current Ion model as well.

I'm not real excited by it, though news is that Saturn dealers are.

I plan on keeping my Ion for many years to come, but I'm not really sure I will be buying another Saturn or not knowing the Ion I enjoy so much is going away. The competition is pretty tight, and if/when we are ready to purchase our next vehicle, whatever we come home with will have to provide great fuel economy and reliability matched with styling and flexibility....and (at least) a 5-speed manual shift.

Then again...this Mazda RX-8 really seems like the bee's-knees. I love looking at them as they zip by me on my morning commutes.

While not quite "vanship" material (image of Claus and Lavie's), a silver-one would go a long way....

One day, maybe.


1 comment:

lauren said...

Which do you like the most? In my case, i don't know if i should keep my car (with new saturn vent visors, exhaust and a few more accessories) or get a new car. My first choice is a saturn vue, i would like to drive a hybrid. Anyway, goodluck!