Let us now praise modest cars


I was delighted to read fellow WalletPopper Geoff Williams' post earlier today about a recent article in Forbes: The most expensive cars to repair.

I drive a modest car. A 2004 silver Toyota Rav 4. It ain't fast. It ain't sexy. It's the Mom-mobile, and it was free, thanks to my gracious and beautiful step-mother who insisted I inherit it when she died suddenly of cancer in 2004. Thank you, Babs; I will drive that thing for the next 20 years.

But sometimes I take grief for driving such a blahmobile from friends with flashier rides. This is Los Angeles, after all, ground zero of the hot car cult. So when I read the Forbes' piece, I had to gloat. That pricier cars are more expensive to fix seems obvious. But seeing the facts in print validates my theory that I am being more financially clever than my friends with more money by dint of the car I choose to drive.

Also validated is my sense of modesty and my sense of thrift. Mostly, though, it validates my sense of schadenfruede. Sure, I could lease a nice Beamer like anyone else. But why would I when my car always starts and is cheap to keep maintained?

Recently, a friend who loves luxury cars couldn't start his Mercedes. Big trouble with the starter, which is these days a computer. It was a lot of drama and a lot of money to fix. I pointed out that the starter on my Toyota worked perfectly. And I reminded him that my Toyota engine had never ceased working on an ultra-hot day, as his BMW 5-series engine had a few years earlier. He just glowered at me. It's sort of verboten to point those things out around here.

I'll admit that sometimes I wish I had a flashy, fast car. Speeding up entering the freeways here in Los Angeles I often chant, "Go, little car, go! Wish I had a Beamer..." But that's when the fantasy ends. In the end, I'll stay true to my sensible automobile that always starts, never stalls, and is completely paid for. Which really flies in the face of L.A.'s dominant culture.