Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Island Cars

Living on an island, a closed environment of sorts, one begins to notice certain similarities between other residents. One of the most visible is the quintessential "Island Car". What is an Island car, you ask? An Island car is a type of car that seems to just be everywhere on the island.

Island trucks are different than Island cars. An Island truck is a beat up, rusty, moldy, dirty pickup truck, with at least one eccentricity. The Island truck may have holes in the floorboards, or no bumpers, or might be missing a gear or two. There may be 3 different brands/ sizes of tires on an Island truck. The main feature of an Island truck is it's inherent unreliability. It's an Island truck because you don't dare take it off the island -- it might not make it back.

Island cars, on the other hand, are normal cars, it's just that you tend to see a lot of this type of car on the island. For a long time, the Island car of choice was the Volvo Station Wagon, preferably in purple.

Volvo station wagons have been surpassed in commonality now by those ugly Honda Elements, usually in olive green. You laugh, but I couldn't remember what Honda's name for the car was, so I typed "Ugly Honda" into Yahoo, and sure enough...

The Honda Element is not the exclusive Island car, though. There is another type of car that is catching up, or surpassing the (shiver) Element in numbers. That is the Toyota Prius. You can rely upon Islanders trying to be green, although we are so rural that the Prius is actually not a very green choice for us.

I know, I can hear you saying "Why don't you think the Prius is a good idea for the Island?" The main advantages of the Prius are that is gets good gas mileage, and it reclaims a large amount of it's braking energy. As far as good gas mileage, there are a lot of cars that get better gas mileage, particularly in rural areas. You just won't do enough braking on the Island to make the regenerative braking pay off in the long run. You are carrying around too much weight in batteries. Also, the cost and difficulty of reclaiming the (toxic) materials in the batteries is very high. The Prius is a good choice for a city commuter, but not for our island highways and byways.

Whidbey Island and cars. Of course.


Anonymous said...

Hey, you didn't get a photo of MY Island truck for your post... too bad I don't trust it enough to drive that far south on the island!! (for any interested it's a chevy s-10 from the early 90's, headliner falling down, clearcoat peeling off, rusty dented bumper.) But all in all, not as great an island truck as the old one, a GMC, the floor all but rusted out, only ran in 1st and second gear, sometimes reverse, but the glass pack mufflers and headers sounded great!

Anonymous said...

I'm only leaving this post to info the writer that the Prius is a synergy system that works not only in braking but in down hill motion/ rolling as well as deceleration. My car automatically defaults back to the battery as I roll down hill, slow, or turn corners as well as maintain a speed at an average mph. I spent Jun 07 on island and found my car to function quite well with a 47-50 mpg average. I am excited to add my car to the roads in Whidbey come Jun of 08. See you soon!

Rene said...

thanks for the comment about the prius. When you get to the island dont forget to stop in at Rockhoppers and say Hi. And Dan is the one who wrote this particular entry. Rene is the female perspective and owner of this establishment. We both blog on Rockhoppers site.

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