Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Shiny New Toy
Mark has a new toy. It is a pretty toy. It is also a kind of practical toy, since his Ford was truly on its last legs. If you hadn't guessed, it's a new car. A Mazda RX-8, to be exact. It really is quite spiffy. Now that he's gotten to show it off to all the people he wanted to surprise, I can write about it.

I have gotten to ride in style ever since he got it last Wednesday, because every time I said I needed to go somewhere, he offered to chauffeur me. It is "titanium gray" with brushed aluminum trim bits and black and brown leather interior, which is better looking than it sounds. So far, I've had the most fun with the rear-hinged back doors, because the handles are hidden when the doors are closed, and they make having a backseat in a sports car much more practical. Mark, on the other hand, has been having lots of fun with the steering wheel-mounted radio controls, locking all the things the valet key can't unlock, the sunroof, the idea that he has an MD player, as well as a CD player, built into the dash, and showing off. So far, he's had one person at a stoplight roll down her window to ask what kind of car it was and congratulations from my karate instructor on getting such a nice car. The first night he got it, he brought the owner's manual in for bedtime reading, and looked very conflicted when I teasingly asked if he was going to sleep with it under his pillow. Because it is a 6-speed manual, he's working on getting his shifting smoothed out, but he's improving. Good thing he's had my poor car to practice manual driving on all the long trips we've taken this past year. It's kind of nice to be back in an all-manual household. I can be snobby again.

In case you don't already know, the main difference between an RX-(7/8) and other sports cars is that it has a rotary engine. While I can't begin to explain how it works, (I'll leave that to the website I linked to,) I do know that it means the car's center of gravity is low and the engine is incredibly small, which makes looking under the hood rather like looking into the suitcase of a very efficient overseas traveler.

When Mark told my uncle Bruce W. what car he was getting, Bruce told an amusing story about when he had his RX-7. It turned out that one of the people he worked with had worked on the original project to build a rotary engine years earlier. That project had been abandoned with the conclusion that it was impossible to build one that would work properly. Bruce held out his keys and told the guy to take his car for a spin. The guy replied, "Well, the engine won't work after (so many thousand miles)." Bruce pointed out that his car had several more miles than that and still worked fine. His co-worker was not amused.

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