Monday, July 28, 2008

Car Naming

Somewhere along the line I seem to have become somebody who names their cars. I never set out to name them all, but looking back, I realize that almost every one I have owned has had a name. Perhaps I was inspired by a friend who named her little red Chevy, Nanny Nova. My first car was a goose-shit green, four-door 1970 Chevrolet Malibu. My sisters and I each took a turn at driving it, and each of us hated it as much as the one before. We called it The Green Bomb. It had few redeeming features, unless you count the capacious back seat, which… saw some good times.

The Green Bomb was replaced by a little silver Honda CRX HF. It got amazing gas mileage and thrived on neglect. It was the first car I ever owned, and because my parents failed to educate me in the ways of car maintenance, I drove it into the ground. I think I serviced it once in the time I owned it. Because I always had bad dreams about werewolves, I named my CRX The Silver Bullet. Steve bought a CRX also, and after we moved up to the Bay area, it didn’t take long before we got tired of only having two-seater cars to transport our friends and family around in when they came to visit. The CRX was replaced with an Acura Integra with more seats, and apparently, less personality. Somehow the Acura never got a name.

Once I started doing field biology, I needed something I could drive off-road. Taking the Acura out on levees where it would bottom out and come back reeking of burning weeds wasn't a comfortable feeling, but it looked cool with a kayak strapped to the top. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to replace the Acura with until I saw the new Subaru Outback. What a great-looking car! It reminded me of the dirty little green cartoon SUV in the Chevron commercials with two bikes in a rack on top. Freddie 4-Wheeler was what it was called, and so that was what I called my Subaru. It was a great car for about eight years, but then, as my father would say, it began to show its whiskers. Subarus don't seem to hold together too well. Cup holders got shattered by the simple act of my children misstepping in the back seat. The front cup holders were positioned so that a sweating soda cup would drip right into the climate control knobs, which became sticky and quit working. The worst part of its aging was that the car developed a persistent oil leak that left it smoking from the hood at stop lights.

For my 40th birthday, we replaced the Subaru with a Volvo XC90. I really wanted that car, but had some major reservations. Gas mileage was number one. With predictions that gas prices would go up to $5 a gallon, I thought seriously about getting the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We liked the Highlander, but that third row of seats was tiny! Price was another factor. At over $40 thousand dollars, it seemed like a pretty extravagant expense. I tried to talk myself out of wanting the Volvo by doing a lot of reading online on car owner forums about the XC90. I hoped I'd find tons of people talking about what a crappy car it was for the money. Most owners really liked the car though, and the many glowing accounts about the safety of the Volvo, eased my doubts. One owner, however, recounted a horror story about a trip to Los Angeles when The Big Swede, as they had named their car, needed a major overhaul because its central computer had quit working. From that point on they called it The Scarecrow (as in, If I Only Had a Brain). Objections aside, we took the plunge and three years ago the new Volvo became mine. I told Steve we needed to come up with a name for the new car, lamenting that The Big Swede had already been used. Being and avid fan of cycling, Steve of course knew that this was the nickname of Magnus Backstedt, the professional cyclist who rides for the Garmin-Chipotle team. Now when we decide which car to take, it’s either the Audi (Steve doesn’t name his cars) or Magnus.


Steve said...

Magnus has got to be the coolest car name ever, and the story of its origin is also tough to beat. Plus, it allows me to use the nickname Maggie which has always been a favorite of mine. :-)

Magnus rocks! Easily the best car you've ever had, but I'll stick with Innie (my Audi - get it? Yuk yuk).

Insanity Central said...

Ahh, see I was wrong. I didn't know your car had official name.