COTD: The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake edition

Slice-of-life articles were once a staple of newspaper journalism. Now, hardly anyone reads good stories about how other people live. We're much more likely to hear about how people from some other part of the country are destroying our "way of life." Rough beasts, we seem, slouching toward civil war.

Yet, as I mentioned a few COTD's back, we love personal stories. And today Chairman Kaga delivers one about the religion of demolition derby in Arkansas. It reminds me of those Tom Wolfe pieces from The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a must read if you happen to like to read things.


Have you ever been to a demolition derby? I'm from Arkansas. It's practically a religion there. Baptist ministers actually pray over the cars before they go into battle. The father of one of my friends was Garland County champ 5 years running, back in the 80s. I know a few things.

The tactics are pretty simple. Bash the opponents' cars into steaming heaps. You generally do this by throwing the beast into reverse and slamming the rear of your car into the front of theirs. Alternatively you can aim for the wheels. Driver side door impacts are illegal and usually get you a DQ. That's disqualification, not Dairy Queen (this being the south, confusing that meaning could be confusing and potentially disastrous).

What you want is something with a big fat juicy pot pie eating ass. A station wagon is ideal. Something from the 70s with a massive rear overhang is also acceptable.

You also want a car with less engine than you'd think. Think about the engine bay of a 1970s land yacht. Imagine it crammed with a monster V8. Wall to wall motor. This will most certainly be your downfall. One solid whack and it breaks the mounts, ruins your transmission and you're out. You want as much space around your engine as possible. Lots of overhang. A radiator that sits at least a good foot behind the grille. A 4-banger diesel. Small. Torquey. Perfect.

You also want to avoid anything too jacked up. Most demo derbies disallow a raised chassis because of the possibility of it going all Bigfoot on another car. While they do require cabin reinforcement, most don't have full cages that can support the weight of a 3 ton Detroit Steamer. Aside from that, if another car manages to get underneath you could easily have your suspension and/or transmission ripped clean out, especially if you have a solid rear axle or a low hanging diff.

So here it is. The 2012 Mercedes Benz E 250 CDI Estate with a 204 HP BlueEFFICIENCY diesel and a 6-speed manual. Acceleration is 0-60 in under 8 seconds, so it's quick enough to get out of harms way. The manual is also preferable to an auto. With the torque of the diesel, even if you lost 1-4 you'd still be able to move. It also weighs more than two tons. It rides low to the ground, protecting its tender bits from "gophers". Reinforced doors and advanced crumple zone design should offer better protection than the battleship mentality of the cars you'd be up against.

And just imagine, you ensconced in your leather throne, 10 Harmon-Kardon speakers pumping Freebird at 120 decibels, and your Teutonic steed charging in reverse toward some unsuspecting inbred yokel you can't tell the difference between D and R.


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