Always keen to share the strange and wondrous sightings from my drives around town, I nowadays seem to find more rare new cars than survivor/unusual old cars. Well, this week the pattern broke a bit by my finding one of each in rather close proximity over the course of just two days.
Based on responses to a similar find back in May (2022) when I first encountered a Rivian pickup, it seemed that more readers had seen the Rivian than the subject of this post – a Lucid Air. Here’s a Lucid Air.
The fact that more readers had seen the Rivian than a Lucid does make sense just by the numbers. As far as I can tell, there are somewhere just over 14,000 Rivian pickups out there on the roads (unless of course they are off the road due to being one of the 13,000 vehicles being recalled), whereas there are just around 2500 Lucids. This leads me to some nutty-yet-interesting-perhaps-mostly-to-me math. Upon getting home and confirming just how many Lucids there are, I immediately began to wonder how many other objects exist out there in the world in similar numbers, and the extent to which I had encountered any of those other similarly frequent things. I figured that this should put my Lucid sighting into perspective.
That’s what leads me to late-Fall thoughts of Spring, and of course turtles.
For whatever reason, most of the data I turned up, before getting tired of the whole exercise, related to wildlife (perhaps you the CC reader can come up with other comparison data). For example, that fellow in the above photo is a Blanding’s turtle. No one knows exactly, but it is estimated that there are fewer than 3000 of these endangered reptiles left in the wild. So really just a few more than there are currently Lucids. Only, unlike the Lucid, the range of the Blanding’s is restricted to a handful of states – Massachusetts being one of them. Therefore I guess it’s not all that amazing that I’ve actually encountered a half-dozen or so Blanding’s in their natural environment. The guy above is one.
Another fun fact is that the Blanding’s turtle is known by biologists as a “negligibly senescent” species. This is a technical way of saying that no one really knows how old these things get, and therefore are, so it’s possible that a turtle the size of this one could be closing in on – or perhaps surpassing – 100 years old. Likely this big fellow could go for a while longer if he doesn’t get run over by a motor vehicle, which sadly is the way a large number of non-juvenile turtles meet their demise. That’s something to think about if you live in a marshy area and drive in the Spring. I spend a not-inconsiderable amount of time each Spring helping the turtles that I encounter safely cross roads. This seems the least I can do to honor the fact that the turtles and their kin have been crossing the same patches of ground for the past 200 million years and change … long before someone came and built a road (maybe 250 years ago here in New England) separating their hibernation spot from their egg-laying spot and certainly before the 150 years at most that there have been cars on that road. Theoretically there could be turtles crossing the road today that were born before there commonly were cars. Something to think about the next time you see a “Slow Turtle Crossing” sign.
It would be good if more heed were paid to vanishing reptiles by motorists. Otherwise, it seems clear that the population trend graphs for turtles vs. Lucids are close to crossing and will soon rapidly diverge. At the moment, while there is no literal relationship between these two trends, there are currently slightly more Blanding’s turtles in Massachusetts than there are Lucid Airs. Sitting here close to the intersection of those two lines, I feel lucky to have encountered the subjects of both.
Moving back to the car, I will say that the Lucid’s technology seems impressive and to my eyes the car itself is exceptionally attractive. I’m not sure if it’s at least $90K attractive. And if this is a “Grand Touring” model, that would have to be about $160K attractive. Whatever. First off, no one cares about my opinion and second off (Is that an expression? I’ve always said it…) I’m more likely to stumble onto a couple of dozen Blanding’s turtles sunning themselves in my back yard than I am to ever purchase something like a Lucid. To me, between $90 and $160K seems like an obscene amount of money to spend on an automobile, as much as this particular one may represent the current pinnacle of the technology, is really cool looking, and certainly carries the mantle of exclusivity. Maybe if it comes down to the $5000 used car range, I might consider it.
Hey, it could happen. The Rivian that was equally rare when I wrote about it in May is now so common around here that I see a couple a week. I even encountered one at CVS the other day that was dirty, dented, and just kind of shoddy-looking. I guess that’s just how it goes. This year’s model is next year’s has-been. Really it hardly matters as $70K for many folks in this particular area – with its high socioeconomic demographics – is practically chump change. A quick throw-away and a relatively small price to pay for current coolness and fancy. I see this every day with the still-functional appliances and electronics sent to the town dump, to the thousands of dollars people spend on landscaping, cutting down 100 year old trees only to rip everything all up again in a couple of months to install an equally expensive piece of alternative landscaping that might be useful for a few months or a few years at most. In short, the resources as well as the desire to purchase a car that costs more than $100K are not exactly scarce – certainly not Blanding’s turtle level scarce.
None of this bodes well for the durability of exclusivity. But we knew that, right? I guess that if exclusivity is important to you, then all you can do is to keep aspiring (knowing full well that the next thing is always in your rear view mirror…where it often turns out that objects are actually closer than they appear).
But what if you want to bust out of that loop and would like your ride to be even more rare and unique yet still not quite in the “exotic” category? And maybe you want (or heaven-forbid need) to save big pile of cash; well then I might suggest my other surprise find from two days before I encountered the Lucid.
Unfortunately, I was exiting the highway as this mid-1990s Toyota Century overtook me on the left, so I didn’t get my own photo. I should say that I’m not particularly bothered by that, given the many excellent pictures of JDM cars (in their natural environment) provided over the years by CC’s Tatra87. Still, it was something to see one of these cars in the metal, rolling down a local road. As measured by the Blanding’s turtle exclusivity index (BtEI for short), I’m going to guess that the Century is considerably more rare here in the U.S. than are our ageless yellow-throated friends. At least at the moment.
The dual side view mirrors on the front corners of the fenders initially tipped me off that I was being passed by something unique.
Also unique (well, at least to something that’s not in a funeral procession) were the white lacy curtains that adorned the rear door windows on both sides. I noticed all of that well before the fact that of course I was window to window with the Century’s driver as he passed by on my left.
Outside of car shows, I virtually never see right-hand-drive vehicles in my area. There’s one family in my town of roughly 11,000 that drives a Mitsubishi Delica, but I take that as the exception that proves the rule.
Someday when I see them teetering around town (the Delica’s narrow wheelbase and seemingly high center of gravity always makes me think – correctly or not – that the thing will be blown over in a stiff breeze) I’m going to have to chase them down and get the story on that. If that happens, I’ll definitely report back here.
I did once work for a guy who collected Morgans (and Citroens and Volvos), and he had a few right-hand-drive versions that he would periodically drive to the office. That was 20+ years ago, and even back then he confided that the tenor of Massachusetts traffic was not particularly conducive to driving a RHD car on the right side of the road. I get it. Driving around here is challenging enough without self-induced handicaps.
Then again, what are the odds that Mr. Century Driver is going to cross paths with another Century here on local Massachusetts highways? I’ll bet that’s exactly the sort of exclusivity he’s going for.
Unless he’s a mailman. Then all bets are off.
Me, I’m just happy to tick off a few more cars every couple of months that I’ve never before seen on local roads. And of course to come here to talk about them, and turtles…and a few other things.
Since it was a subject of some conjecture in the May, 2022 Rivian post, I’ll note that the location for the Lucid was I93 and I95 (aka “128”) between Boston and Burlington, MA. The Toyota Century was spotted a bit further south at the intersection of 128 and I90 (aka “the Pike”). These are quite fruitful car spotting locations…in case anyone wants to come to Boston and drive around looking for cool stuff. Also, there are two Lucid “Studios” (aka showrooms) in the greater Boston area…for those who are into such things.