Honestly I can’t think of another thing in life I’ve always wanted to do that I haven’t already done. My so-called “bucket list” is complete. For now on it’s just a matter of refinement, tweaking the details, basically repeating the same things in a slightly different way or perhaps if I’m lucky with more sophistication and skill.
My latest achievement which I have only recently accomplished is the purchase of a dark blue Cadillac. Hardly a stunning aspiration, I know, but nonetheless one which has been on my list of hopeful experiences for decades. What strikes me as odd is that it has taken me so long to do this. It’s not as though I haven’t owned a reasonably large number of cars during my lifetime. And many of those vehicles qualified as luxury cars. Admittedly I have test-driven a couple of Cadillacs over the years. The first time I was unimpressed with the product and – more importantly – out of my depth with the price. I didn’t even ask to turn on the ignition. The second time I instantly disliked the product (in fairness it wasn’t the full-size model we were specifically looking for) and didn’t even ask the price. The third – and last – time I liked both the product and the price. Additionally I was motivated to shift from my seventh Lincoln to Cadillac because the Lincoln MKS is no longer being made and there is not as yet a replacement model available (though one is promised next year). As Lincoln and Cadillac have for years been notoriously in step with one another the Cadillac XTS is also on the end of its model life though it may be extended by as much as another three years to 2019. The Americans (and lately the Chinese) are keeping alive the popular ambition for a large sedan. The new Lincoln sedan is being heralded as not only marvellous (as one would expect) but also much more expensive (say by about another $30-40,000 above its current “competitive” pricing). The 2016 Cadillac XTS which we got costs more than the comparable Lincoln MKS (2015) but less than what the new Lincoln is expected to be.
Considering that I put about 50,000 kms on the odometer every year, the 2014 Lincoln MKS (which we bought last June) had over 55,000 kms when we swapped it for the Caddy on September 3, 2016. In the week we’ve had the Caddy we’ve already put 2,200 kms on it (and it only had 25 kms on delivery just to be clear). Anyone who knows cars knows that you can never beat the system. The longer you wait, the more it costs. If for example one buys a $60,000 vehicle, keeps it for 3 years and runs it into the ground (let’s say 150,000 kms) it will not likely fetch much more than $10,000, so you’ve spent $50,000. Then you have to buy a new car which will probably now cost $80,000 for basically the same car. So, in order to have a car after three years you have to spend $130,000 to start afresh.
If on the other hand one trades his $60,000 vehicle the following year for a comparable new one for an extra $25,000; and basically repeats the same tactic for the next two years on roughly the same terms plus $5,000 for each year beyond the first, then on the final transaction, one would have spent $60,000, $25,000, $30,000 and $35,000 for a total of $150,000 in order to have a new car at the end of three years. So, for an extra $20,000 over three years (about $500/month), one car drive a new car every year. Not to be facetious it is also possible to save around $500 per year because OnStar is free for 12 months for every new Cadillac. As well, there is no chance a one-year old car will ever go outside the standard warranty period (say 100,000 kms or three/four years whichever comes first) which means the exposure to mechanical repair bills for a high-mileage three-year old vehicle is avoided.
Naturally this poached argument is for amusement purposes only. Let’s face it, anyone who wants to save money will never think of buying a Cadillac. Not that the Cadillac is ludicrously expensive compared to many other vehicles, but its utility for anything other than personal satisfaction is questionable and would hardly form the basis for a cogent business plan. The only plausible exception I know to such a proposal was that apparently propounded by my own paternal grandfather who drove a 7-passenger Packard limousine (complete with on-board chandelier in addition to its 16-cylinders) because he had 7 children.
So then, what’s the gaff? Well, I’m oddly reminded of the adage, “If she knows why she loves him she doesn’t!” While it will no doubt offend some to hear me say it, there commonly exists a love affair between people and their cars. Perhaps those who trade cars often and opt for a younger, newer model are tramps at heart! Some people want to ride fast; others prefer the stateliness of the Orient Express. What’s your type, fella? It takes very little imagination to fathom the immensely different appeal of a variety of cars to each one of us. As usual, Freud and all the other psychologists were right! Everything from shape to colour!
Whatever the reasons, I adore my Cadillac! There! I said it! It’s out in the open! I don’t care! Speaking of adages, I also recall the quip of an elegant lady friend from Kingston, Jamaica who once observed to me in her soporific West Indian accent, “Bill“, she said, “the only thing I like better than drivin’ me Cadillac is lying in bed on a rainy day with a man with a hairy chest!” I can’t say that I share her metaphorical comparison, but I will at least acknowledge the strength of the poetry. Love drives us to strange distraction!
My personal attraction to the Caddy is more along the mechanical lines. It is nothing for me to interrupt my nocturnal slumber at three o’clock in the morning in order to take my car for a spin. The time is perfect because of course there is hardly any traffic at that time of night. One also has the opportunity to test the automatic high beams and the ambient light of the cabin. I usually profit by the seclusion to listen to BBC World Service which because of the five hour time difference ensures I am catching the the latest news of fresh disaster and the scintillating interviews on current topics, anything other than soccer and cricket matches. Sometimes as I travel the rural highways I shut off the audio and absorb the sound of the car, delicately sensing the car as a whole, its traction with the road, the engine noise and the feeling of gear changes. My destination is normally the Stittsville brushless car wash which is open 24 hours a day. As part of the routine I may fill the gas tank if at all required. And the coffee in the shop is surprisingly good! All in all the occasion provides the opportunity for a very private communion.
A good deal of the thrill of driving the car is preserving it in pristine condition. If anything as horrid as a scratch or dent were to occur, my reaction is as instant and as obsessed as that of a mother for her newborn child. Thankfully the modern collision centres are expert in repairing almost anything and restoring the car to like-new condition.
There is endless commentary upon the character of people who drive certain cars. That sort of speculation is of no interest to me whatsoever. In an unusual extension of humanity, I view the passion of a driver for his or her car as a highly personal one, one which for whatever reason I concede is quite understandable. I also admit that the passion is unquenchable. Lincoln for example is already advertising its next rendition of grand American luxury, the Lincoln Continental (the reclamation of the once famous moniker which was lately replaced by the MK series):
Whether the American public is as disposed as the burgeoning Chinese consumers are to such flagrant padding remains to be seen. Cadillac meanwhile is cultivating a greater synthesis of performance and high-tech. All of which merely reminds me of that other truth about cars, “There’s always going to be something new and exciting on the horizon“. Or something to that effect. But you no doubt catch my drift. Eventually one has to say, “There! I’m done!”