skirting the mini

Saturday at lunch at R.T.’s in Alexandria, Peg and I ran into my friend David, a fellow squaredancer, friend of Dorothy and resident of my condo building, having lunch there with a friend of his down from Philadelphia. David asked about my Saab, having seen my friend’s SUV in my parking space and my car parked on the street the past few weeks. I explained the problems I’d been having, and his friend volunteered that he’d recently bought a used Saab and it already was in the garage with problems. I noted that I was planning to replace it, and I mentioned first the Mini, which got the more usual very positive reaction, and then the Prius, about which he also was very excited. So there was no clear vote from David one way or the other.

On the way home, Peg and I stopped by the BMW dealer on Jefferson Davis Highway, and there was a Mini parked there. We got out and looked at it again, and she still thinks it’s ugly. I still love the look and styling, but more and more the lack of trunk space bothers me, and I’m also realizing that the appeal of the Mini for me is very much just stylistic; buying a Mini would be like dating a cool and very good-looking but somewhat vapid and high-maintenance indie rock musician, probably sleeping with your friends behind your back. The Prius, on the other hand, strikes me as a geeky, pro-choice Berkeley grad and Naderite, dependable, smart and attentive, and cool and attractive in a more personal offbeat way, despite or perhaps even because of his funky clothes and hairstyle.

Twenty years ago, I dated that musician; these days, I’d take the Berkeley grad hands down. So the Prius is looking more and more like the smarter–or at least more adult–choice, and I’m feeling more and more solidly in the Prius camp. We did swing by the Toyota dealer just next to the BMW lot immediately after; the outside sales staff rushed us when we stepped out of the SUV, but when I told them I was looking for information on the 2004 Prius, they all shrugged their shoulders and passed me off to the receptionist. The staff inside only took my name and email address and said they’d let me know, probably in September, when they had more information about the new Prius.

The remaining drawback to the Prius is that I’m having less success in coming up with a witty personalized plate. The only thing that the name evokes is Priapus, and anything in that vein would be swiftly denied by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

So, currently the tally (expressed or assumed on my part) is:

  1. Jeff: Mini (because he, carless, wants to be chauffeured in it)
  2. Nicole: Mini
  3. Waldo (colleague): Mini (because he wants a sporty car, but with a wife and kid now he feels he has to go the more practical route, and will drive vicariously through me)
  1. Gene: Prius (because Mac users are always evangelizing something)
  2. Katie (boss): Prius (because she wants one of her own, given that Virginia law currently allows single-passenger hybrid cars to be treated as the equivalent of HOV for the purpose of using HOV lanes during rush hour, and that she has more than an hour-and-a-half commute otherwise)
  3. Peg: Prius (she’s involved with recycling and waste management professionally, and very green personally)
  4. Randy: Prius (another Prius evangelist: check out his Prius blog)

They’re practically neck in neck. Anyone else care to add a vote as to which new car Thom should buy?

4 thoughts on “skirting the mini

  1. I had a whole list of vanity plates when I bought my Prius – of course, since then there are more of them on the road and probably a lot of my choices taken. But I’ll look for them and pass ’em on.
    I often think I made the wrong choice for mine, as so many people don’t get the joke.
    The plate I chose: D CELLS

  2. I thought about ISNT EZ for “It Isn’t Easy Being Green,” which would be doubly appropriate if I also got the Prius in a green body color. Again, though, I suspect this would be a little too esoteric (though that has its own appeal).

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