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Doug Clark: Little under LaHood in that car

Sun., May 23, 2010, 1 a.m.

GM’s EN-V concept car leaves little room for passion.  (File Associated Press)
GM’s EN-V concept car leaves little room for passion. (File Associated Press)

I’ve been in the news biz since the grimy days of Nixon, which means it takes a lot to turn my stomach.

But despite my hardened sensibilities, a photograph we published the other day made me good and queasy.

It showed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood riding shotgun in a so-called car of the future at the World Expo in Shanghai, China.

General Motors calls its concept car the EN-V.

The GM “Spit Bubble” would be my vote.

The tiny two-seater could also pass for one of the Disneyland teacup rides.

Now I’m sure the EN-V is an environmental wonder. It’s probably made out of recycled materials and runs on double-A batteries. Or methane captured from Ed Begley Jr.’s composting toilet.

Who cares?

If we have to scoot around in these ridiculous polyp-mobiles in order to save the planet, well, I say let the sucker burn.

Sure, maybe I should care more about what kind of world I’m leaving for my great-grandchildren.

But I’m willing to take my chances. For all I know, my great-grandchildren will be jerks who don’t deserve a better world.

Whoever designed this EN-V had to be smoking crack because he or she clearly forgot about the automobile’s historic and important role as a rolling make-out wagon.

Millions of steamy teen embraces took place in the roomy GM products of yore.

Pontiac. Buick. Cadillac …

Ah, remember that catchy song in the old Chevy commercials?

“Grope your gal today, in a Chev-ro-laaaay …”

Marketing genius, that’s what that was.

But the EN-V? No flames of passion could possibly flicker inside such a miniscule, glass-enclosed dork cart.

You’d have to be a contortionist as well as an exhibitionist.

But religious affiliation aside, seeing that EN-V photo made me wish the government had let GM go under.

Too big to fail, my ass.

On Friday I decided it was time to visit the garage where my own red GM vehicle had been mothballed since last fall.

There it was, my beautiful restored 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.

I slid behind the wheel, stuck the key into the ignition and made a clockwise turn.

“Vaaaaroooooommm!!!”

Oh, baby. Now that’s a car.

True, there is the matter of gas consumption. When I last checked my mileage, I discovered that installing a brand-new Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor had upped my fuel efficiency from 5.87 miles to the gallon to a whopping 6.5.

(The word “efficiency” probably shouldn’t be used in a sentence like that last one.)

But that’s OK. My station wagon runs a lot smoother now.

I just naturally worry whenever the needle on the fuel gauge slips below the halfway mark. Especially if I have any long drives to make like, say, the three miles to work.

But as I’ve said before, keeping this baby on the road is really a form of recycling.

And isn’t safety the most important thing?

Say what you will about all the ecological advantages there are to driving an EN-V. Just pray to God you never get in a wreck in one.

Man, think of the carnage if that weenie EN-V ever plowed head on into my Vista Guzzler.

I know one thing that would happen. The transportation secretary would be my LaHood ornament.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.


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