Car Talk

I drove pickup trucks for over 35 years. I finally got tired of hauling a relatively large vehicle over the winding roads that are necessary for us to reach the more civilized world and bought a Honda Fit 3 years ago. Which was a dandy little car. $17K complete (new). 1/3 more storage than similar size cars, 35 mpg, nimble on the curves.

All that ended when a rolling rock that I hit knocked the motor off its mounts a few months ago. It was so expensive to fix that AAA declared it a total and gave me $12K, a fair deal. Which helped a lot because Shelter Pubs was running on empty and it allowed us to pay a printing bill and avoid borrowing to stay afloat. I know, small peanuts in this day and world, but we’re a small peanut company.

I’m going to wait a while to get another car (meanwhile driving my 14-year-old Toyota 4-cylinder, stick shift 4×4, which gets about 20 mpg and is a magnificent vehicle and can go anywhere and pull other cars out of ditches).

I’ve looked at the redesigned Fit, Mazdas, the smaller Prius, Toyota Yaris, and pretty much settled on a Subaru Crosstrek. Much as I admire the Fits, the Crosstrek looks to be of another octave. 8.5″ of road clearance, 30+mpg, sturdy in body (which the Fits are not), and many other advantages. I’m waiting for the 2018 model, which reportedly has a bunch of improvements. It may well be the last car I ever buy. If it lasts 18 years, I’ll be 100.

If I lived in a city, I’d do most of my getting around on a bike, but out here, internal combustion is a necessary fact of life. At least if your livelihood depends on getting into the more populated areas frequently. As well as being a part-time traveling photographer.

All this brings up a list of the great cars in my life, and this will only be of interest to people (I should add, car nuts) of an, um, certain age: my first, a 1939 Pontiac convertible with bucket seats in the back; a 1946 Chevy with 3-speed vacuum shift; my mom’s 1950 Ford woody station wagon; a 1929 Model A Ford with chrome headlights and rumble seat; a 1937 Chevy pickup with square cut gears (you needed to double-clutch every shift); a 1960 VW 40 hp VW van that hauled a ton of bldg. materials, and carried me through Mexico and on a mid-winter across-USA round trip;  a Ford Cortina, wonderful car and I believe the prototype for the Beemer 2002; a Beemer 2002, a rhapsody, a song of a car; a 1964 Ford pickup…don’t get me started. Hey, my brother Bob has had 85 cars. We’re California kids.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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