Columns

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

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

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?

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