Car Talk Steele - Part II
Date: Monday, June 25, 2001
Lauryn Poynor <>

Car Talk Steele - Part II

by Lauryn Poynor

Break. Station ID

[{song selection} Unfit to Drive by the Autobody Experience 2:55]

[Weekly Mail Bag 5:16]

RAY: After that sleep inducing visit to Tommy's Haus of Mail, I think it's high time we took another call. 1-800-332-9287. Hello, you're on Car Talk..

DONALD: Hello. This is Donald calling from Tarzana, California.

TOM: Tarzana? Named after Tarzan of the Apes if memory serves.

DONALD: Beats me. The wife and kids and I haven't been living there that long. We're still trying to adjust to moving from Connecticut. Well, mainly my wife.

RAY: So I take it you haven't been practicing your Tarzan yell. You don't know what you're missing. I get a really nice echo effect when I let loose with one in the garage.

DONALD: You really shouldn't make a habit of it. It's very bad for your jaw. Why I had a patient with TMJ once who - we'll let's just say it wasn't a pretty sight.

TOM: Yeah. Mom always warned us not to make faces or they'd stay that way..

DONALD: Don't listen to your mother. I'm a dentist. I could use the cash.

RAY: What for? Your kid's braces must be dirt cheap.

DONALD: I guess every profession has its perks. As far as the money goes that's what I'm calling about. You see, there's this car I've had my eye on. It's a Jaguar.

TOM: And I thought you were going to say Mercedes. I've always thought of dentists, as well, uh, sort of Germanic. They get you in that chair and set out those instruments of torture. Did you see that movie 'Marathon Man' with Dustin Hoffman? Laurence Olivier plays this Nazi dentist and he turns on that drill and - [imitates high pitched whine of dentist's drill]

RAY: The man calls for advice and you slander his profession.

DONALD: That's OK. It's the old image problem. We're used to it. In fact, the movie probably helped me get into dental school. After it came out enrollment was down all over.

TOM: Yeah. Except among the really crazy ones.

RAY: Let's get back to that Jaguar, Donald. So you've turned your nose up at German engineering for a different breed of Coventry cat. What are we talking about? A Series III XJ-6 sedan?

TOM: With the haywire Lucas electrical system. You know what they say. It takes four Jaguars to complete one road test. And boy, when that transmission wears out it you can just wave goodbye to it. Sayonara. Or should that be toodle-oo, old bean?

RAY: Ignore my brother. He has no soul. No sense of style. You want reliability, get a Toyota Corolla. Besides, the quality control on the Jaguar is much better nowadays.

DONALD: Actually, guys, I wasn't looking at an XJ-6. A colleague of mine has this beautiful, mint condition 1961 XKE convertible. Since he went through the wringer in divorce court, he's had this little cash flow crisis-

TOM: Oh, I see. So you're going to contribute to his bank account and he's going to contribute to solving your image problem. An E-type Jag would certainly fit the bill.

RAY: No kidding. Even my old orthodontist Mr. Kornpett would look sexy driving one of those. So, why aren't you behind the wheel of that Jag right now? Little woman putting her foot down? How old are you? Pushing forty?

DONALD: Let's just say it's on the horizon. The older I get the more I feel there's something missing in my life - excitement, adventure, challenge..I don't know. Some days I wanna change my name and hit the open road. No family ties, no whining patients, no forwarding address..

RAY: I thought so. Put one aging male specimen and one E-type Jag together under laboratory conditions and voila! Instant mid-life crisis!

DONALD: Frannie, that's my wife, wants to chuck the old reliable station wagon and buy one of those new fangled mini-vans. She says they're roomier. If she didn't let the kids run hog wild the wagon would do just fine. More room would only get them into trouble. Ever try to sandblast a box of sixty-four melted Crayola crayons from your car upholstery? As for mini-vans, I don't see what the big attraction is. It's just that all the moms on the block have one now and she hates to be shown up by the neighbors. It's a status thing, I guess.

TOM: Like driving a Jaguar XKE convertible.

DONALD: Busted. You got me there. I don't have anything against vans, you understand. It's just you never know when something is just a fad. An XKE, now that's timeless. But a mini-van? Though, I gotta tell you, I had this Chevy van back in the 70's when I was in dental school. Man, that was freewheelin.' Custom paint job, Recaro bucket seats, shag carpeting, eight track tape player, quadrophonic speaker system -

RAY: Did it have a mini-fridge and a waterbed? A psychedelic poster and a blacklight?

DONALD: You betcha. Ooh boy! That waterbed! That was the clincher. Of course I was footloose and fancy free in those days.

TOM: The song is ended but the memory lingers on.

RAY: That's melody you nitwit. Speaking of melody, how did that tune go? [sings] 'she's gonna love me in my Chevy van, and that's all right with me.'

TOM: Yeah. 'Chevy Van' by Sammy Johns. How many guys went out and bought a Chevy van just cause they wanted to get laid. Every male in America from sixteen to sixty. They made it sound so easy. Crank up some cruisin' tunes. A touch of 'Van' Morrison music to set the mood.

RAY: Or maybe Luther Van-dross. Martha and the Van-dellas. Van-illa Fudge. Steve Van Zandt. Van Dyke Parks. Or for the more high brow listener - a little Van Cliburn. Get it?

TOM: Who's Van Dyke Parks? Why not Van-gelis?

RAY: Too trendy. We're talkin' nostalgia here. Hey, remember that 'Saturday Night Fever' theme party we threw for our esteemed producer? There was a polyester shortage in Our Fair City for months afterwards. It was a sight to behold! A room full of greaseballs in white disco suits doing the MacPherson strut.

DONALD: MacPherson strut?

RAY: It's been around since the 40's when that type of suspension was invented. We mechanics just immortalized it in dance. Although the platform shoes added an extra element of risk. Where's that letter from the Martha Graham Institute?

DONALD: Listen guys, thanks for the memories, but I've got to make a decision pronto. A Jaguar XKE or a Plymouth Voyager?

TOM: Make your wife happy. Go for the mini-van. An E-type Jag is a money pit. Besides, a dentist can only look so cool. Despite my brother's Jaguar sales pitch Sheldon Kornpett DDS could never look sexy.

RAY: He could behind the wheel of that Jag. Live a little! Buy the XKE. Pull up in the driveway and watch your neighbors' jaws drop. Not only will they go green with envy but they'll need extensive mandibular therapy. More money in the kitty for that mini-van, if you decide to go that route.

TOM: Don't listen to him. Better safe than sorry. Remember the law of marital relativity: XKE = instant divorce.

DONALD: Thanks guys. I think I'll just flip a coin. Come to think of it, maybe that mini-van wouldn't be so bad. A little soft music on the tape player, bottle of wine in the mini-fridge, maybe even a water bed. A little customization could go a long way.

RAY: You said it. I know where you can get a great deal on some shag carpeting.

DONALD: Thanks, but, uh, no thanks.

TOM: I hate to bring this up but my daughter has this overbite and I was just wondering-

RAY: Jeez. Can't you wait til the station break? At least cue up a little van music.

[{Song selection} Hey, Little Minivan by the Austin Lounge Lizards 2:58]

To Part III