COAL: 2007 Honda Accord • Jenna’s Orange Doid

I’ll give it its due credit: this is the most dependable car I’ve ever owned. It has been almost entirely trouble-free. It starts on the sixth compression every time—not the fifth or seventh—and always runs exactly the same. It also puts out the cleanest exhaust and promises the best safety performance of any car I’ve ever owned, so in those ways it is a highly competent A-to-B transport module.

With a story I’ll explain why I said it promises the best safety performance rather than it’s the safest. I routinely type at well over 100 correctly-spelled and -spaced words per minute; I’ve been clocked at 130 when I stick my foot in the secondaries about it, and people in earshot have mistaken me for a good rainstorm. I’d no formal instruction; in high school, kids one year behind me were the first forced to take a –typing– “keyboarding” class.

And so I got to hear the –typing– teacher hollering “J! J! F! A! D! K! L! L! S! H! D! S! D!” over the porta-wall that did about an 80 per cent job of separating him and his captives from those of us on the fortunate side in Mr. Thiess’ art class. Concentrating has seldom been easy for me, and the incessant drill instruction made it even harder to keep my mind on my work, but I managed to do this:

I’m happy with a small subset of the few drawings I’ve done; this is one of those. It’s not finished, and some of the details are hasty and sloppy, but I think I got a creditable number of the complex curves and lines creditably right—even the intricate roof contour above the A-pillar. It’s probably because I had a roaring obsession with the ’60-’62 Valiant-Lancer cars. My lighting fixation hadn’t yet caught fire, though, so the headlamps are just generic round things instead of tooling-quality representations of particular lamp lens details.

Typing, though. I’m not even self-taught, I’ve just been practising constantly for years. The year after I drew that Valiant, my first year at the University of Oregon, I was writing a paper on Frankenstein or something—late the night before it was due—and I fell asleep while I was typing. I was awakened a few moments later by the keyclacking, and looked at the screen to see the cursor flashing at the end of this line of freshman-in-university bulk wrap:

There is a subtle significance to the symbolism here, but it wasn’t Jenna’s Orange Doid.

I knocked on the door of the guy in the next dorm and told him we had to form a band, call it Jenna’s Orange Doid, and plaster the campus with posters saying “JOD is coming!” and “Are you JOD-fearing?” and suchlike. We never did, and that’s probably for the best.

Jenna’s Orange Doid comes to mind because on long trips this car is dangerously boring. Sincerely! I’m not exaggerating. It’s not driven, but aimed, and the experience is more soporific than benzodiazepines washed down with warm milk. I found it so difficult to stay awake at the wheel of this car that I actually got a carbon monoxide indicator, and guessed at a pretty good chance it would go dark. It didn’t; the car’s just that anæsthetic, which rather undermines all the safety built in.

I bought the car in March of 2016, shortly after the A604 ProbleMatic transmission failed in my last Dodge Spirit. It is my first-ever Honda, a 2007 Accord EX-L V6. It’s also my first car from this century, my first with more than one airbag (six), my first with a 5-speed automatic, first with an automatic that allows starting from second gear, first with 4-wheel ABS (my Chev Crapiece claimed to have it, but that was a fib), first ULEV, first car with traction control, first with keyfob remote lock/unlock, first with bun warmers (seat heaters), first with dual-zone HVAC. First with wheels bigger than 15″ (seventeens), first with an in-dash CD changer.

I’d’ve preferred a 4-cylinder; Honda’s fours are reputable and economical, and I didn’t and don’t need the V6’s power. The car was bought new in California and imported to Canada in late ’07, so the speedometer and odometer read in miles, of which there were about 80,000 when I bought it—10k more than the Dodge. It had a clean CarProof history and a thumbs-up from the local Honda dealer service department where I arranged for the seller to take it for a pre-purchase inspection; it wanted tires, but everything else was solid.

I’d found no suitable cars in Vancouver and its suburbs. Everything was overpriced, overworn, or both. It was fun to think about getting one of the numerous used cars imported from Japan, but I wasn’t interested in hassles with wrong-hand drive (border guards, parkade entries); special not-in-this-country parts, or 40 per cent higher crash risk. So that “local” dealer aformentioned was actually in Nanaimo, a drive and a ~2-hour ferry away. I took a cab to the dock and had a lovely ferry trip with internet just spotty enough to remind me to keep lookin’ out the windows at the scenery. The seller was a grownup, versus the dillweeds in Surrey and other suburbs I’d wasted Monday on (it doesn’t have a licence plate, so you can’t test drive it…I’m actually selling it for my friend…and he’s in Manitoba…I can try to call him tomorrow, and other symptoms of yeahritis).

Cosmetically, the car was about a 7/10. Paint was more or less fine with scratches and scuffs on the bumpers. Middle of the rear seat had a worn patch from previous owner’s skis rubbing, wheels had some curb rash. A good detail job would’ve made it spiffier (but I didn’t wind up getting one until this year). Overall, though, my first impressions were favourable. It seemed streets ahead of the Dodge in materials and build quality, technology, and refinement. One would hope, eh; it was 16 years newer! I did miss the Spirit’s instantaneous-and-average fuel economy readout, and its oil pressure gauge. And the Honda had no US/Metric dashboard switch. But that dual-zone HVAC meant Bill and I would no longer be overriding each other’s temperature settings like a pair of chess players slapping one of those timers. All in all, I felt I’d got a decent car for a decent price.

First task: licence plates. The rear plate bracket didn’t want to coöperate, so I bought an appropriate tap and rectified the threads, then affixed the plates using tamper-resistant screws; whoever has the correct driver could take the plates, but most people don’t.

Next: tires. I think I put on Pirellis; I don’t remember, and I don’t care enough to go outside and look. If I had this to do over again, I’d replace the 17″ wheels by the lower-trim fifteens and use tires with a taller sidewall; I’m not autocrossing, and we have potholes and cobblestones. Come to think of it, maybe I do have this to do over again; those tires are now five years and 52,000 miles old, probably getting close to due. We’ll see.

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