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Drivers need the freedom to pick their own vehicle
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

“Haruum-voom,” the Toyota droned as I shifted into third; “Voom-voom,” when I dropped back into second.

“My big, powerful SUV seems to having a little trouble with this hill,” I quipped to my companions. “You would think a monster four-cylinder like this would roar right up this little grade.”

That’s what I’ve been reading in the newspapers. Sports utility vehicles are supposed to be gas-guzzling monsters, capable of blowing other vehicles off the road.

So how did I get a dinky four-cylinder, barely able to pull a large piece of taffy? Other SUV owners may be wondering the same thing. Any car that can run over a baseball without crashing has become a gas-guzzling monster.

Here’s a feature from the New York Times News Service with the headline, “Automakers Plan Less Deadly SUVs.”

The story is prefaced with, “Finally admitting the behemoths can be hazardous, companies are tweaking designs to protect motorists in crashes.”

A more accurate appraisal might be, “SUVs are safe. Other cars are dangerous.”

The problem is SUVs are taller and heavier than other cars on the average. They do more damage in a crash with a smaller car.

Liberal thinkers say that’s not fair. Someone should level the playing field by putting more plastic into SUVs and lowering them to the approximate height of an armadillo.

What a bunch of baloney. Nobody ever worried about our 1955 Chevys, 1957 Fords, or the venerable Thunderbird being out of sync with other cars on the road. We made them any height we wanted; and they were heavy enough they weren’t going to get run over by a minivan.

The 1954 Chevy I drove to college was probably heavier than my modern SUV, and she could take a hit with the best of them.

The “Green Weenie” - as my friends called her - wasn’t about to get flattened by some wild-eyed fiend in a Jeep.

The Weenie was big enough to take care of herself, and she had that special transmission they called “Power Glide”. The old Chevy could go from 0 to 60 in a matter of minutes. Getting back to 0 took a bit longer.

That’s what happened when my fraternity brother, Dave, borrowed the Green Weenie for a trip to campus. Dave was barely out of the fraternity house parking lot when a kid in a Corvette came flying out of a side street and hit him broadside.

The ‘vette was stopped at the intersection, but the driver didn’t see Dave coming. Or, if he did, he probably thought the Weenie was stationary.

Whatever he thought, the kid floored his Corvette and hit Dave right in the driver’s side door. The good news is nobody was hurt. A dent in the door was the extent of damage to my old Chevy.

The ‘vette was fiberglass, though. It was nearly totaled.

That was a lesson for me. I’ve never wanted a sports car, and I’m not real fond of fiberglass; but I don’t care what other folks drive.

I figure we should drive what works for us. Drivers just need to slow down - and watch out for the Green Weenie.

This farm news was published in the Oct. 25, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.