Thursday, December 31, 2009

Driving Out of My League

There's a very new, very fast, very expensive car sitting in my driveway. There are lots of people who speculate what pastors should drive. Google it. I don't think a new BMW 535xi is on anyone's list, except maybe the prosperity gospel hucksters'.

The short story:
It's not mine.

The long story:
I have a bit of a soft spot for old German cars. I've never owned a new car and never even made a car payment. I've owned one car from the same decade in which it was made, and then only for the few remaining months of 1999. Owning cars that are half as old as I am (and older) has caused me to learn to do a fair amount of my own work on them, so I can drive something that's a bit higher mileage after someone else has taken the hit on most of the depreciation.

A couple years ago, I bought a then-12-year-old BMW 7-series. I wanted a V-8, rear wheel drive sedan (you know, something pastoral). If it were American-made, it would have helped me fit in better in Jerseyville, but American V-8 sedans are rare, and ones with different wheels for going forward and steering are rarer still. But the Germans came through. The good news is that two+ years and 35k miles later, the Kelly Blue Book Value is about the same as I paid for the car. The low price of these things used and the treasure trove of information collected on the Internet for just this model and year range of 7-series makes it the quintessential car for the casual do-it-yourselfer. Want to know how to troubleshoot the front suspension, reassemble the oil pump, or change the cabin air filters? It's all there.

While I can do a lot of my own service to the car, there are a handful of things I can't do, one of which is an alignment. That takes dealer skills and tools. So I took my now 14-year-old car to a dealer in St. Louis to get the alignment done. They promised me a loaner so I could run some errands while I was in St. Louis, and the car was supposed to be done in a couple hours. That was yesterday.

I have this fantasy that car manufacturers would find a need for a pastor--who is in his mind a race car driver, but who in his real life is just a pastor driving to visit his parishioners--to drive and review their cars. There are car blogs by moms, dads, teens, right-handed people, coffee drinkers, and people with multiple middle names. Why not a Lutheran pastor? Who wouldn't want to read that? Well, okay...everyone.

So there it is in my driveway, a nearly-new car, as a loaner for my it-would-be-new-in-Cuba car, a car worth eleven of my cars (seriously), a car that depreciates more than a dollar a mile. But man is it fun to drive. And when people see the guy in a clerical collar driving it, they must conclude I'm one of those fat-cat, synodical bureaucrats.

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