2009.02.11 I'm feeling as old as my gadget-free geezermobile

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I have a subscription to Autoweek magazine, which recently switched to every other week publication and changed the front cover logo to read A/W. I now get half as many magazines for the same price as when it was a weekly. When my subscription expires, I think I’ll offer to pay them every other year.

Even worse, their editorial content seems to be more and more tilted toward foreign cars and electronic gadgets. They recently covered the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, reporting on all sorts of things no driver really needs. For example, the Blaupunkt Miroamer.

This little device gives you access to over 30,000 radio stations from around the world. What, a CD player and a couple of Joe Ely or Neil Young CDs aren’t good enough anymore?

Or, there’s the AT&T Cruisecast, which provides 22 channels of satellite television right to your vehicle. Or NAV-TV, which gives you infrared night vision so you can spot upcoming animals crossing the road. Or save the $2,700 and look out your windshield.

But I didn’t notice anything in the article about radar detectors. Does anyone still use these? I never felt the need to, but they used to be pretty popular. Autoweek used to have ads for them, but I haven’t noticed any now that the magazine has changed to A/W. Maybe that beeping sound would interfere with all of the other upscale gadgets they now recommend.

But a recent internet listing by U.S. News & World Report of the most and least ticketed cars got me thinking about what the article calls “cop magnets.” If it is to be believed, perhaps I’d be better served with an AARP membership than a radar detector as long as I own my Buick. But I have a tough time believing some of the vehicles listed.

For example, three of the seven most ticketed vehicles are made by Scion, a pretty neat trick considering the brand has only made four different models during its existence. And they’re not exactly race cars, especially the Scion xB, the little van-like thing that resembles nothing so much as a packing crate. Those can go fast enough to get a ticket? Or are they being ticketed for being a public nuisance, as people are so busy laughing at them that they forget to concentrate on their own driving?

I suppose you can’t really ticket someone for that, or no one would ever buy a Pontiac Aztek. I’m thinking the list must be based on percentage of vehicles ticketed as I don’t see that many Scions on the highway. The same goes for the Hummer H2, which is the most ticketed vehicle.

Others on the most ticketed list include two models each from Toyota and Mercedes, the Audi A4 and Subaru Outback. This sounds like a list of yuppie vehicles rather than fast ones. Where are the Corvettes and Mustang turbos?

Then there’s the least-ticketed list, which is making me feel old when I already feel old enough, thank you very much. Here, eight of the ten vehicles are domestic with my beloved Buick Park Avenue holding down spot number five. Writer Jamie Deaton gives the knife an extra twist with the comment that “the now-discontinued Park Avenue helped solidify the brand’s image as cars for the senior set. No wonder Park Avenue drivers tend not to get very many tickets.”

Senior set? Gee, thanks. It’s true I haven’t gotten any tickets since I bought the Buick, but I get stopped every time I come upon one of those Highway Patrol vehicle inspection lanes. Obviously, they think they have a chance of finding something wrong. Or maybe they target Buicks because they think us old folks are easier to catch if we run.

The other least ticketed vehicles include the Buick Ranier and Lucerne, the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and Silverado, the GMC Sierra, and Mazda 6. The remaining two are real head-scratchers.

The least ticketed vehicle of all is the Jaguar XJ. Maybe that’s not such a surprise as when was the last time you even saw one? If there aren’t any out there, they can’t get a ticket. The other one is the Oldsmobile Silhouette. These used to roam the Earth like dinosaurs, but I’d bet most have been sold for scrap by now and what cop writes tickets in a salvage yard?

I like my Buick and no matter what the folks at U.S. News or A/W think, I don’t need any high-tech gadgets for it. In fact, does anyone know where I can get an eight-track player?

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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