Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nissan Figaro and Mitsubishi Space Gear

I walked around Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, trying to overcome some serious jet-lag. Of course I had my camera, the Canon SX210IS, which has turned out to be a great machine, and kept my eyes open for appealing vehicles. Autoliterate has been long on literate, lately; short on autos. Time to readjust the balance.
         The first Vancouver machine that caught my eye, in an alley in the West End, was this little Japanese import:

It had right-hand-drive, and a certain lustrous quality of fit and finish: Japanese cars sold into their home market seem to exceed the (pretty high) standards of fit and finish typical of the cars Nissan, Toyota, Honda, et al sell in North America. This is a Figaro, and it's a Nissan, though the Nissan nameplate is nowhere to be seen. Nissan built and sold 20,000 Figareaux in the early Nineties. They were originally intended exclusively for the home market, but a bunch went to the U.K.. And imported Japanese specialty cars are quite a hot item on the Canadian West  Coast, apparently. Learn about importing Figaros and other Japanese vehicles here.
           The Figaro radiates a certain Hello Kitty-esque cuteness, perhaps annoying; and I suppose a lot of car men would see it as the classic girl-car: teeny and twee. But I distrust gendering of vehicles, find it kind of boring; anyway girl-cars are generally more appealing to me than the ersatz masculinity which North American manufacturers ladle onto vehicles aimed at the man-market, especially those monstrous huge pickup trucks, which seem toylike and babyish really: enormous bruto-Tonkas.

I've spent a lot of time on the British Columbia coast this book-tour season, and have noticed that imported Japanese 4WD vans are extraordinarily popular out here, right-hand drive and all. I've seen a lot of Mitsubishi Delica "Space Gear" vans (gotta love Japanese vehicle nomenclature; and these compact, rugged-looking little vans do seem to have a lot of space for gear, though they seem rugged too, and nimble--anything but "delicate"). In the U.S., almost everything has to be huge, or at least getting bigger every year. In the rest of the world, small is tough.

The vans seem to be  popular with tree-planters and hippies out here in British Columbia, and surfers, and people who spend a lot of time on bad roads through rain forest or the mountains.

I first noticed them abaord ferries to Vancouver Island and Denman Island last month. My most recent sightings were on the sedate streets of Vancouver's West End. Learn more about importing them here.

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