2010.07.28 Maybe he should have just stayed with a 4x4

Written by David Green.


Did you know Charles Spencer King died last month? King, known as “Spen” to his friends, was best known as the designer of the Range Rover, the four-wheel-drive vehicle of choice for many yuppies, rappers and professional athletes.

King, who grew up in southern England, quit public school at 17 to work for Rolls-Royce. After World War II, two of King’s uncles restarted production of the Rover automobile and hired Spen to help.

In the late 1960s King designed the Range Rover, a 4x4 vehicle meant to work around a country estate or go cross country on a weekend pheasant hunt.

King despised the use of his creation as a city vehicle, telling a British newspaper in 2004, “Sadly, the 4x4 has become an acceptable alternative to Mercedes or BMW for the pompous, self-important driver. To use them for the school run, or even in cities or towns at all, is completely stupid.”

He didn’t even drive a Range Rover himself, preferring a Volkswagen Golf as his personal car.  Eye problems forced him to stop driving earlier this year. He died on June 26 when struck by a van while riding a bicycle. Given another chance, I wonder if he’d choose a Range Rover with a chauffeur? 

While most of us can’t afford a Range Rover, there are lots of great vehicle bargains out there if you just look through the ads..

How about a 2007 Chevy Aveo? “Red is all it has besides great gas mileage...only $5,590.” You’d think it might be even cheaper with no options. Or do you prefer a stripped truck? How about a 2008 Ford Ranger Supercab? “5 speed, 2WD. If it had any less equipment, I’d have to steer it with a pair of Vice-Grips.”

Or maybe you would like a clean used van? How about this 1999 Ford E150? “Very well kept, no dog hair.” So does that mean the previous owner didn’t have a dog, or only that he cleaned the van well? And you notice it says “no dog hair,” not “no pet hair.” Did they own cats?

Some ads, though, list even more questionable “features” than lack of animal hair. How about this: “1950 Willys Jeepster. Above average condition...not running, but should.” Not running is now considered to be above average condition? How about calling me back when it is running?

Then there’s the seller with a “1964 Chevy C10 Fleetside pickup...some rust, but good for age. Have title, but not usable.” Sorry, pal, but having an unusable title is not a selling point.

Finally in this category, we have a “1964 Chrysler Imperial. 413 V8, AT...original spare.” I suppose it’s nice that you still have a 46-year-old spare tire, but don’t expect me or anyone else of sound mind to use it.

Not afraid of a challenge? Then you might like this: “2000 GMC Sierra, 255,000 miles, 4x4, 4.8L V8, AT, scratches and small dents on body, crack in windshield, bald tires, bad trans., needs wipers and battery, selling for a friend, he just acquired it, will make a nice work truck, $2,700 OBO.” Yes, I think it would make a good work truck. In fact, you may be working on it for months.

Need a graduation gift? I wouldn’t call spending $11,000 on a 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna a wise choice, but that’s how one person is trying to move his car. Does anyone besides Donald Trump spend $11,000 on a gift for a graduate, even if they’re related?

If you really want to buy a car for a graduation gift, how about this one? “1969 Checker Taxi. Completely disassembled, everything there including glass...$1,400 OBO.” Think of the favor you’d be doing the new grad. Not only would they learn auto mechanics while putting their gift together, when finished, they could start a taxi business. That’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Finally, there’s an ad for a car I seldom see offered, probably because there weren’t that many built in the first place. I always liked the Mercury Marauder, made for a short time earlier in the decade. This particular 2004 model has only 538 miles, which explains the $38,000 asking price. But it’s the reason for disposing of it that got my attention. “Selling due to illness, “ the ad states, “My wife is sick of it sitting around.” And, no doubt, she has plans for that $38,000. She’s probably going to buy a Range Rover to take the kids to school. Hopefully, Spen will understand.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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