The Journal of Prevarication
By Jim Cook
Official State Liar of Arizona
A new kind of automobile rolled off a makeshift assembly line here last week, and it promises to bring new wealth to Wickenburg. If the idea catches on, it may help jump-start the economy of the nation, and maybe the whole world.
The Wickenburg Institute for Factual Diversity has tried to do its part to help the economy since since late summer. That was when a slumping stock market turned our “portfolio” into a leaflet.
We tried a number of strategies before we arrived at the idea of making an automobile. At first, we applied for one of those federal farm subsidies for not growing crops–in our case, not growing soybeans in Wickenburg. Such subsidies have created great wealth in Arizona in the past, especially among cotton farmers.
Our subsidy application was denied on a technicality, but we have been wildly successful at not growing soybeans in Wickenburg.
Then I thought about this new kind of automobile. I modestly admit that it was my creative genius that put the first Vulture on the road, and I own a small share of the factory.
But the impetus for the Vulture really belongs to my late father, and his lack of welding skills.
About 1947, Dad decided that his 1936 Chevrolet two-door sedan, the family car, would not haul enough cargo. We moved twice a year back then, and we took almost everything we owned with us. We were picturesque.
Dad took a cutting torch to that Chevy sedan and turned it into a pickup. He cut off the back half of the roof at about waist height. He cut out the part holding the rear window, moved it forward to just behind the front seats, and tack-welded it to what was left of the roof.
That created a kind of a cab, vaguely like that of a pickup. It was a well-ventilated cab, because Dad didn’t fill in the space between the bottom of the window frame and the floor of the car. The backs of the front seats were open to the air, and the dust that rolled in over the tailgate when we stopped.
The tailgate was the former trunk lid, held in place with baling wire. Now he could pile our household goods in a high mound on the back of his “pickup.” My brother and the dog and I clung to the top of the load; our baby sister got to ride inside.
Dad was not skilled at cutting with an acetylene torch, and he was even less adept as a welder. That car embarrassed me. The way we lived, it took a lot to embarrass me, but that vehicle did it.
From that day on, I vowed that when I made enough money to afford it, I would buy only new cars. New is nice. Since 1969, I have bought brand new cars from dealerships, and driven the wheels off of them. That means I know everywhere the car has been, and how it has been treated. My present Buick is nearing six years old.
But when I buy a new machine, I hear from a number of people, including my wife, about how foolish it is to buy a new car and eat all that depreciation.
Miss Ellie, and some good friends of mine, buy used cars. They don’t jump on me about buying new cars, but they subtly mention how they let someone else absorb the many thousands of dollars a new car depreciates the moment you drive it off the showroom floor. It’s sort of a status thing, like not watching much TV, or boycotting apparel from Central American sweatshops.
Our new company, Vulture Motor Works (VMW), will produce new used cars, with the depreciation already removed. The first Vulture to roll off the assembly line Tuesday was our 2004 model. It has that used-car smell; there’s no mistaking it.
This is the car for the person who secretly wants a new automobile, but wants to flaunt the financial wisdom of a penny-wise motorist who usually buys cars used from Budget Rent A Car.
The Vulture comes with that first ding already on it, so you don’t have to dread being the first one to ding a new car. Carlos, our chief dinger, can offer you a barely visible dent in the front bumper, or an almost imperceptible scratch in the paint on a rear quarter panel.
The Vulture is a hybrid, of course–part Honda, part Ford, and the rest made of whatever Checker Auto Parts has on sale. The model we call the Vulture Stimulus has a Briggs & Stratton engine and gets 115 miles to the gallon, but it’s a little sluggish on the hills.
The Vulture is not an expensive car, and that is due to our creative financing program. I DO watch a lot of TV, and I keep track of the boastful offers from auto insurance companies.
Brand A, a big-name insurance company, brags that it can save you $800 over buying insurance from Brand B. Brand B, which advertises heavily, claims to save you nearly $400 over its nearest competitor, Brand C, the one represented by the little lizard. He’ll save you a bunch, too. For us older folks, AARP makes similarly alluring claims.
If you buy car insurance from each of these companies, you’ll realize an accumulated savings of $1,875, more than enough for the down payment on a 2004 Vulture.
Then, when your best friend comes over to show off his new Cadillac Escalade, you can rub his nose in depreciation. .