Occasionally in life, one is confronted certain choices with the potential of long-lasting ramifications. This is (hypothetically) one of them.
Were you to face the following two personal transport options, knowing that whatever you choose would be your full-time daily conveyance, for which alternative do you opt?
The Toyota Camry - The Toyota Camry is a brilliant piece of machinery. Competent in every facet, it delivers the paragon of reliability, above average fuel mileage and ample standard equipment to offer a suitably comfortable experience within its relatively spacious cabin. Furthermore, its choice of options from engines todrive trains to interior accoutrement allows total customization per owner, affording the perfect balance between economy and luxury. The ownership costs are insignificant as a Toyota Camry, much like the rumored efficiency of a Rolls Royce, will rarely if ever need its engine hood opened for maintenance. Give it new tires, regular oil changes and occasional fluid flushes and this machine will last for hundreds of thousands of miles, operating with trademark Japanese clockwork precision.
It is also completely devoid of soul, passion and enthusiasm. The Toyota Camry is a mere appliance for those who need to get from point A to point B without drama and without personality. The driving dynamics are bland and unable to impart a spirited feeling while the control inputs are hermetically sealed from the mechanical works of the vehicle giving little driver feedback and yielding a basically joyless experience. Furthermore, it is thenumber one selling car in the United States ensuring that it is virtually ubiquitous. You are guaranteed total anonymity when behind the wheel of this competent yet flavorless machine. When your Camry, like a serviceabledraft horse, reaches the end of its useful life, there are no qualms or emotional partings. You merely put the old girl out to pasture and get a lease on a new one.
The Jaguar XK-E. This car is expensive. The Jaguar XK-E is a mechanic's wet dream. Pull into their garage and they salivate, thinking of the cost markups for rare parts and lengthy labor bills. From the out of production replacement parts to the notoriously sketchy Lucas electric system, you can guarantee that this car will break down at least once a month. Maintenance costs for a vintage car to begin with can become very substantial, very quickly, but the upkeep involved in maintaining the unreliable British workings of a Jaguar can creep stratospherically high. For bodywork, a specialist is best contacted to ensure that the delicate curves and turns of the sheet metal are handled with the utmost care - No MAACO technician shall touch and mar this paint. As Jaguar has been approved as an official ride of the Royal Family, be forewarned that ownership will be a Royal Pain.
But oh, will you look at it? Exuding sexiness, flair and not a little bit of danger, the Jaguar looks like nothing else on the road - excepting of course the hundreds of less inspired design impostors through the ensuing decades. The appreciative nods from other aficionados and near gawking of passersby continually reinforce that this is a unique work of art, worthy of inclusion in MoMA's permanent collection. And should it be in fine running order, the driving experience is second to none. It is everything an enthusiast desires: the steering wheel feedback tingles your fingers and each gearshift, if properly executed, is a tiny gift from heaven in its own right. The challenging rear-wheel drive layout coupled with skinny bias-ply tires reward the talented driver as quickly as it punishes the neophyte. Settling into the handstiched leather and flipping the dashboard's toggle switches, the Jaguar is a symphony for the sense from the tactile touch of the wooden wheel to the sensual aural overload from the 3.8 L in-line six. And not to belabor the XK-E's gorgeous bodywork, but no less an authority on automotive aesthetics than Enzo Ferrari called it "the most beautiful car ever made." The lucky few to own an XK-E know that its beauty and sheer emotion - and headaches - will be in their lives for many, many years to come.
Now faced with this choice, knowing full well that while initial investment is gratis, you will be saddled with the upkeep and maintenance costs of these two remarkable - albeit diametrically opposed - vehicles, which one do you choose? Japan's finest minds vs. Lucas Electrics? Stunning bodywork vs. Plebeian exterior? The safety of multiple airbags vs. the laissez-faire protection of Newtonian physics? The cost of gasoline and tires vs. scouring vintage parts dealers for a $900 fuel filler cap? Driving by the seat of your pants and loving every second of it vs. the total insurance that you get to your 9:30am doctor's appointment at 9:15am? The smell of oil and petrol vs. the smell of a yellow vanilla rear-view mirror pine tree?
Which do you choose?
Now what if these two options and their corresponding attributes - sexiness vs. blandness, massive upkeep vs. effortless and cost efficient maintenance, danger and unreliability vs. safety and trusted reliability, excitement and passion vs. competence and predictability - were proscribed to a woman or a man or any partner? Then which one would you choose?
This piece was written and submitted by a Jalopnik reader and may not express views held by Jalopnik or its staff. But maybe they will become our views. It all depends on whether or not this person wins by whit of your eyeballs in our reality show, "Who Wants to be America's Next Top Car Blogger?"