When I turned 30, I got divorced and went out and bought a little red sports car.
As with many things, it's never as simple as that self-deprecating joke suggests. The marriage was one I should never have agreed to in the first place and had turned into a living hell on earth before I escaped. And the divorce had nothing to do with why I bought the little red sports car, nor for that matter my age. No, when I was a married man, I drove a Dodge Caravan. Second worst car I ever drove, no matter what Consumer Reports had to say about it that model year: horrible unreadable instrument panel, rotten gas mileage, constantly having mechanical problems. But the thing that I really bumped my nose on after the divorce was that the car payment on the thing was about $25 a month more than my rent. That was way too much to be paying for a car I didn't even like, so I started shopping for something cheaper and more economical. About that time, there was a car available from an off-shoot GM brand, a rebranded Canadian Sprint called the Geo Metro. It was not entirely unfairly derided as "America's Yugo," the cheapest and flimsiest thing on the market. But I couldn't dismiss it completely out of hand, because it was also the highest gas mileage street legal automobile in the US at the time. So I spent a lot of months trying to convince myself to get over the fact that it was not only flimsy, it was pathologically ugly, the single ugliest car in America.
And then, just by luck, I found myself parked at a shopping mall next to a car that looked just like a discount version of a Mazda Miata, a little red convertible just the size of the Miata, and just slightly boxier. And even though I'd been car shopping off and on for months, I'd never seen anything that looked like it and couldn't figure out what it was. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I walked around the back and saw the words "Geo Metro LSI" on the back. So let me get this straight -- I could buy one of the cheapest cars in America, get the best gas mileage of any car in America, and it's a convertible? I called every dealer in St. Louis until I found one in stock, a year-old program vehicle (that is to say, retired company fleet vehicle, probably from a rental place) and bought it that very weekend. And I loved that car the way I have only loved perhaps three cars in my life, at most four, and one of those was the Libertalia. The Little Red Thing's engine wore out and I got rid of it a decade or more ago, but there are still people who when they think of me think of the L.R.T.
Any old year now, I'll decide that I have enough money saved up and be confident enough of my budget to think about buying a car again. And for the same reasons I loved my old Geo Metro, I had been looking at a car that is only available in Europe. But the manufacturer has been promising to make it available in the USA "any day now" for four years, always (as now) "next year," and never yet the exact model I want: the Daimler Smart Fourtwo Cabrio Passion convertible. But with Daimler divesting itself of Chrysler, and with there being rumors that the Smart division isn't profitable, who knows if it'll ever make it to the US, or even continue to be sold in Europe. And besides, at the rate the green peso is depreciating, it also looks to cost about half again to twice what it was originally predicted to cost.
On a lark, last night I went looking into the current availability of one of my previous lust objects, only to find out that the company that made it, Electric Motor Bikes, has gone out of business, taking their "EMB Lectra" brand all-electric motorcycle with them into whatever afterlife awaits the umpteen-plus defunct makers of electric vehicles for the US. But since EMB went under, several newer companies have leapt into the same product niche with even better engineering, and one of them is even available in the US at a not entirely unreasonable price. Behold, my current techno-lust object:
The Vectrix Maxi all-electric scooter has about the same size, weight, and performance characteristics as a 500cc scooter, does 0 to 50 in 6.8 seconds, cruises at surface street speeds for 5 hours on a single charge, recharges fully in 2.5 hours on about 15 cents worth of electricity, runs almost completely silently (except for the sound of tires on pavement) on brushless electric motors, requires almost no maintenance, and costs $11,000, about the same as any other similar 500cc scooter or motorcycle. Yes, I'm aware that it'd be a rotten driving solution roughly 150 or so days a year here in St. Louis, and yes, I'm aware that the cargo capacity amounts to basically about one bag of groceries in the helmet compartment under the seat, and yes, I'm aware that that it's experimental technology and that the price doesn't include delivery charges. So I'm probably not going to get one.
I want one, though. Hey, drewkitty -- how do these figure into your World Without Oil scenario?