HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

March 19, 2007

There’s always next year

By Jesse Menden

Maybe next year. That is what I say at the end of every professional sports season in Minnesota. I am fully aware that “maybe” should be changed to “no chance,” but you gotta have hope.

It is also something I say every year while attending the Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis International Auto Show. In what has become an annual event, I go down there, drool over all of the nice cars, head back in my rusty 1991 Beretta, and recite ‘maybe next year’ all the way home.

Maybe next year, I will walk in the convention center with a down payment for a car and walk out with the keys to a nice Mazda 6. It is a simple, but sexy and fast car I have desired for a long time, and it only costs about $27,000.

But after checking out all of the new cars this year, maybe the Mazda 6 isn’t right for me.

As the typical American male, I like to drive fast, and what car would be better to do that in than the new Lotus Elise. At just $43,000, this car is a steal because, in theory, it could double as an airplane.

The Elise almost weighs less than my bicycle, at just 1,980 pounds. There are no extras in this car in the name of weight, but the front bucket racing seat are something I could get used to. Put some wings on this beauty, and you won’t have to worry about traffic ever again.

Speaking of fast, check out the Porche 911 Targa 4S. At just $95,000, it can go over 180 miles per hour, but that isn’t the real draw to this car.

How many times have you kicked yourself for not being able to time your lap times while driving around Wright County? Well, worry no more. For just under $1,000, you can add a chronograph (a slightly larger version of a manual stopwatch) to the dash of this sleek car to keep track of those times. It is seriously tickling my buying bone.

Perhaps I should look at more practical features.

Take for example, the new 2008 Lexus LS 600h L. This car has two futuristic features that are a little more useful than a clock.

First is the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. It uses millimeter-wave radar beaming out of the front Lexus symbol to keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, while the cruise control is on.

Second is the Advance Parking Guidance System. Gone are the days of taking five attempts at a parallel park while your passengers silently snicker at you. Now, all you have to do is press a button and sit back while the car does all of the work for you.

To get these two options, it will cost an extra $20,000 on top of the $70,000 base price, but it might be worth it.

Unfortunately, I can’t say ‘maybe next year’ for this classy car. As much as I want those futuristic options, the future isn’t so bright in those regards.

Ford had an interesting concept car at the show that I might be able to afford in the future, and it had a somewhat familiar name to some. The Fairlane might be making a comeback, but it won’t be the boat that some of you remember.

The new Ford Fairlane will be sporting a crossover format, looking more like a Honda Element than a car. While this car won’t hit the assembly line anytime soon, if ever, it has a feature that might not be available in the future.

It has a real wood interior. It isn’t fake wood, or plastic covered by a wood sticker. If I start saving now, perhaps I can afford his car when it hits showroom floors.

The last car I said “maybe next year” to at this year’s show was the Audi R8. This car took sexy to a whole new level with its luxurious interior and a solid-looking exterior.

Based off of a Lamborghini, the super car turned everyone’s head at the show. Car and Driver magazine listed the top speed of this car at a conservative 187 miles per hour. It can go 0-60 m.p.h. in four seconds flat. But with an estimated base price for this car at $130,000, it was out of my range this year.

But, maybe next year.