Dean’s Diatribes | A car nerd embraces the (electric) future

I love my electric car.

There, I said it.  But before you pigeonhole me as an electric car snob, walk with me a bit down Memory Lane.

The summer I turned 15, I landed my very first job at a gas station at the top of Redwood Road in Vallejo, California. It was awesome. I worked outside from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all summer. Ten hours a day, five days a week, 50 hours each week, for $2.25 an hour.  By the way, that was $0.85 cents less than the minimum wage. My employer was breaking numerous child labor laws (or maybe not– please refer to my last post about kids and chores), but that is a topic for another day.

Janet Delaney

Mr. Porsche Auto Restoration, 270 Berry Street, 1980 (Janet Delaney)

We offered “full service”,  which, for those of you younger than 20, is when you got to say, “fill ‘er up”, while an attendant (me) washed your windows and chatted with you. I loved seeing cars, talking cars, pumping gas, checking the fluids, and even the smell of gasoline. I asked drivers about their motors, transmission gear ratios, and cylinder compression. You get the picture: I was (am) a total car nerd.

I got my license the day I turned 16, and never looked back.  My buddies had hot rods, we tuned up our parents’ cars, and had grease under our fingernails all of the time. When my dad gave me his ’71 MGB that summer, I spent two years and ALL of my extra money restoring it.  As an added bonus, my daughter Emily, who is now 15, has been restoring that car again with me for the last four years, and with any luck, she’ll be driving it around town next summer.

So imagine when I began reading in 2012 about a car that would charge itself in my garage, have only 22 moving parts (typical internal combustion cars have over 1500 moving parts), and never needed gas. Not really my style, right?  Wrong! My interest was piqued. I got an electric car in January 2013 and was amazed at how quiet and quick that thing was. It took a little time to get over my “range anxiety”, but calculating range (math problems) in the car with the kids helped. I was still talking cars, because it seemed people wanted to know what it was, how fast and far it would go, and where the battery was and is there a motor. I was very popular with the 5th graders at Havens drop-off who wanted to touch it and talk to it. I gladly explained that it didn’t talk like KITT from Knight Rider, but that seemed to fall on deaf ears.

I came to appreciate the simplicity of plugging the car in only every few days, always having a “full tank”, and not being inconvenienced by stopping at the gas station. So now, even though my initial, heartfelt love of gas stations was very real, when I am forced to gas up Danea’s car or Olivia’s car, because for some strange reason, Olivia’s car always seems to be on empty when she heads back to college, I must say that my love of gas stations has diminished. I don’t like to wait in line, wash my windows, or even the smell of gasoline. This may be a little weird coming from a gearhead, but honestly, I find the whole thing a bit “icky”. So car nerds and gearheads unite! If you are thinking about purchasing a new car, remember this: Think electric and avoid the icky!

Rodney Dean Adams

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