They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used ToCommentary • travel • drugs • automotive • ISSUE 34•03 • Aug 19, 1998 By Jim Anchower – The Cruise Hola amigos! What's goin' down? I know it's been a while since I last gave you the gospel according to Anchower, but I've had problems like you wouldn't believe. First off, I blew a tire 'cause my alignment was all messed up, but my alignment couldn't be fixed until I replaced my master bearing. Plus, my clutch cable broke for the second time 'cause the firewall is bent in. Hombres, this ain't been an easy time in the life of Jim Anchower. On top of all that, I got this new job at the Golden Goose Supper Club. I'm a prep cook, which means I gotta go in at 7 a.m. every day to start chopping up vegetables and making soup. Can you believe it? Jim Anchower, the king of the cruise, reduced to slaving in a kitchen instead of cruising! I tell you, I wouldn't be suffering these indignities if I weren't hurtin' for a decent set of wheels. Anyway, speaking of wheels, while I was watching TV the other day, I saw a commercial that said I could get a free T-shirt and keychain if I went in and test-drove a 1998 Saturn. It was no '81 Mustang, but for a free T-shirt, I could be troubled to go slumming. I decided that, just like the commercial said, the time was now, so I hopped into Old Faithless (that's what I call my car these days because it's always giving me grief) and headed to the local Saturn dealership. When I got there, business must have been pretty slow, because this sales-guy comes up to me right off the bat and asks if I need any help. I size up the situation and say, all cool-like, "Actually, I just want to browse for a while. I'll come get you if I need you." Rule number one: Don't act too eager. If you start hopping up and down like a monkey when they throw you a bone, the fight is lost, amigos. I wandered through the dealership lot pretending I'm all concerned about crap like warranty and mileage, when all I'm really doing is checking out which car looks the fastest and has a tape deck in it. To be honest, it would not be fair to continue if I didn't point out that all of the cars I saw looked like they couldn't grease 'em off if you put rocket fuel in the tank. Whatever happened to the days when, if you wanted a car with some muscle, you got one complete with a loud-ass horn and a sweet bikini-model air freshener for the rear-view mirror? Let me tell you, they don't make 'em like they used to, and that's a crying shame. Finally, I came across one that looked like it might have some kick to it, plus it had the tape deck I require for pleasurable driving. I start walking over to the sales office, only this helpful guy is already walking toward me. "I see you've found something you like," he says, all smiling and friendly. "My name is Dale." "Well, Dale," I say, "it looks okay, but you can't tell a book and all that, if you know what I mean." He keeps up with the eager-beaver routine and says, "You bet. This car gets 45 miles to the..." and starts yakking on and on about how smooth a ride it is and how it's got anti-lock brakes and whatnot. I wasn't paying any attention until he pulls out the keys and says, "Would you like to take her out for a test spin?" Now, I'm nobody's fool, which is why I earned the nickname "The Thinker." I know about the old bait-and-switch routine, so I say, "Well, that depends. Are you still giving away a free T-shirt like the ad says?" A weird look crosses his face, and he goes, "Sure, we still have those available." Well, you don't have to ask Jim Anchower twice! I took the keys out of Dale's hand before he could change his mind and said, "Then I'll let you know in a while." I slide behind the wheel, and the first thing I notice is that the seat is pretty comfy, but it sits too high. I quickly rectified that situation by tilting it back a bit so I could drive it in classic one-handed cruise mode. I fastened my seatbelt, popped in a tape of the late, great George Thorogood, and headed out in search of some open road. To see what the Saturn could do, I cruised on over to my one guaranteed two-mile stretch of pig-free highway (the location of which is top-secret, 'cause I don't want it all trafficked up by a bunch of amateurs). Turns out, the car topped out at a weak 88 mph. Even worse, the thing rode so quiet, people couldn't hear me coming until I was practically on top of them! I'm just thankful that none of my buds saw me behind the wheel of such a candy-ass car. Otherwise, I would have had to put down a lot of trash about me later. Rest assured, Jim Anchower would not be taking this car home. Not now, not ever! Anyway, I got the T-shirt, but I never wear it except at work where nobody can see it. I had to cut the keychain up into little bits with a pair of metal shears so that no one would see it in my garbage can. As for Dale, I told him that I liked the car, but that I had to test-drive some other ones first. To be honest, I think he knew I wasn't taking the Saturn. Me and that car were like oil and water--we just didn't mix. I need speed, power and thunder. That thing was just a toy. Like Skynyrd, I need to be free as a bird. Today's music and cars, man--it's a cryin' shame. Give me the days of the Charger and Skynyrd any day. You just can't beat those old cars. Except for the Volkswagens. I fuckin' hate those things.