I have a confession to make. This week, someone asked me what my favorite car was. And I lied.
If any of you have ever participated in an MFA graduate school program, chances are, you know the drill. You have the touchy-feely first day where everyone puts their desks in a circle and introduces themselves. In the creative writing program, that always also means you share your favorite author and and and interesting fact about yourself.
There is exactly one single interesting thing about me, folks, and it’s that I write about cars as well as hoping that one day in the eventual future I’ll actually finish a mediocre novel that will sell about 1000 copies to the closest friends and family who take pity on me. So, that’s what I shared. “I write about cars.”
The beautiful thing about cars is that a lot of people have one! A lot of people even have strong feelings about them! Usually after I offer my interesting fact, there are a handful of people who want to tell me about their car, or their husband’s car, or that goddamn car that’s been sitting on someone’s yard for the past five years rotting away but the owner won’t sell it. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
But this time, something different happened. Someone looked at me and asked, “Elizabeth, what’s your favorite kind of car? Like, brand?”
In all my days of offering this as my interesting fact, no one has ever flipped the question on me. And in the very particular panic that results from trying to make an impression on the first day and being caught off guard as my mind suddenly goes into overdrive, I erred. I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind:
You fool! I felt like Ralphie blowing his shot with Santa in A Christmas Story! BMW? BMW! What was I thinking! That’s not my favorite car!
(A note: it’s not that I hate BMWs, that I have some personal vendetta against them and would rather die than be caught behind the wheel of one. In fact, I actually like the old boxy rally bimmers a hell of a lot. It’s more that I cannot fathom how or why I decided to spew this absolute nonsense when I would not consider BMW in my top three!)
And before I could correct my error, the conversation had moved on. The lovely human to my right was introducing herself by showing us pictures of her dog dressed in a tuxedo. The whole room heard me claim that I am a bimmer fan. There are fourteen people out there who are sorely, sorely mistaken because I, a buffoon, a boob, a real clown, forgot how to use my brain.
I’m here to correct this wrong, folks. I am here to set the record straight. I am here to clear my good name.
The thing is, I don’t really have a favorite kind of car.
I know. That probably makes me a truly terrible automotive journalist. But I’m picky, and I like to be a little shit. I’m not going to conclusively decide that a particular automaker is doing a great job at everything or even most things that they do. I’m also probably just going to decide I like cars that nobody else does because that is just the kind of person I am.
If I had to choose a type, a genre, of automotive vehicle, I would most certainly pick American muscle cars.
Despite being a mid-90s baby, I grew up firmly in the 70s. Be it racing, music, cars, or fashion, I look back on those days in the sepia-tinted tones of the television shows my parents watched. American muscle is what I knew. We had a Barracuda in the garage. Everyone at the local car shows had Chargers, Super Bees, Trans Ams, Camaros, Shelby Cobras, and GTOs. I knew, vaguely, that other cars were out there. But I fell in love with the bright colors and big engines, the angry exhaust and long, boxy bodywork that somehow still felt kinda sexy.
I like the DIY car culture. I like cars that you build in your garage with your own blood, sweat, and tears. I like the cars that dad drove in high school and passed down to the kids later. I’m not really a European luxury sports car person. I’m not a big fan of Japanese cars. I like them, handfuls of them; I can appreciate a beautiful car no matter where it comes from.
But if I had to buy and own anything, it would certainly be a 1966 Shelby GT350. It’s ironic; I spend a significant amount of my time bitching about Mustang owners, but I would most definitely be one in a heartbeat, classic white with blue stripes. I want feel like Carroll Shelby. I want to take my cars to Le Mans and kick some European ass.
This is my mea culpa, friends. I am rectifying my errors. No shade to BMW; I need the world to know that I am, in fact, an American girl at heart.