Oct. 11th, 2013

1000 miles

Oct. 11th, 2013 10:04 am
dichro: (Default)
With a thousand miles on the clock and nearly that far into the roadtrip, I'm firmly in love with my first car. Not unlike the iTriumph (or me, I suppose), she's sexy, but hilariously impractical.

Possibly my favourite thing so far is the headlights. Aside from all the safety and visibility benefits, when you first switch the car on in the dark they go through a self-test routine that sounds for all the world like a compact camera's lens unfolding, and the light cones they project widen, narrow, move around, then focus on the ground; for all the world like she has woken up, stretched, studied her surrounds and is now standing ready with demurely downcast eyes.

The highlight of the trip so far has been thundering along mountain highways late at night in North Carolina, with a giant quarter-moon low on the horizon, and the lights automatically refocusing further away and all around (still with that delightfully cybernetic sound) whenever the road ahead is empty.

We spent the first three days of the roadtrip (all of them, to date) being rained on. The first time I opened the trunk, all the dewed rain cascaded from it onto the back window and rolled down towards the trunk. I was expecting it to flood in and drench our bags, but instead almost all of it was caught by the lip of the trunk and guided towards the corners, where it did fall into the trunk–and was neatly caught by a pair of perfectly shaped funnels that are so unobtrusive that I'd completely failed to notice them previously. Genius.

A large part of my excuse for buying a convertible was the lack of visibility in most cars I've driven compared to bikes. It's an imperfect solution: although I love how much I can see with a quick look over my shoulder when the roof down, the A pillars and upper windscreen surrounds are thick and block exactly the places one wants to see when stopped at the lights.

Worse, the rear-view mirror assembly is enormous (not least because it contains the forward-facing camera that monitors oncoming traffic to enable a lot of the automatic headlight smarts) and sits exactly between my eyes and any traffic lunging into the intersection from the right. 

With the roof up, as it has been for the entire trip so far, one changes lanes on faith to some extent. It's tempting to apply the bike approach here–if you're the fastest thing on the road, you don't need to check for overtakers–but agile as she is, that is unlikely to work out as well.

The main practicality grump is storage. There's none, basically, in the cabin. One can stash a wallet in the doors or the center console but little more. My attempts to mount a phone cradle to the sexy dashboard curves have so far failed, and we have an awful mess of cables powering phones and other devices perched precariously on laps, wedged under legs or in cup holders.

Her manual is 350 pages. I haven't made it very far in. She's a complicated wee beastie.

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Miki Habryn

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