Posted in Issues, Let's Get Visual

The Death of the Land Cruiser

I used to drive a Toyota Land Cruiser. Color: “champagne.”

The Land Cruiser was purchased by my husband for his first wife. When they split, she couldn’t afford the payments, so he took the car. Then we became we. The ever-practical Scout did not want to drive a gas guzzler for work. So I ended up driving the car that my husband bought for his first wife.

1992 Land Cruiser

And just because I’m mentioning it now doesn’t mean that I never got over it. I did. Once I had driven it more miles than she had.

Yeah, it used to suck gas like a skid row alcoholic with a fresh paper bag. Yeah, after a certain point I couldn’t justify the size by saying that I had kids to haul around, because by that time my kids were driving themselves around. But I’m a sucker for a car that’s paid for. And once the Land Cruiser was paid for, I didn’t want to give it up.

Actually, I didn’t have to. My son totaled it.

It was a nice June day in 2004. My son had just graduated from LACHSA. He’d been hanging out at home, and decided he wanted to spend some graduation dough at Vroman’s. The Scout and I were on the way home from El Paso (he was working on a feature–Glory Road).

It’s scary when your big kid calls you and he is crying. But tears are appropriate when you’ve just escaped certain death and/or dismemberment. Thankfully, no one got hurt. He was on the freeway, the 210 eastbound just before the Mountain exit.* Someone cut him off. He swerved to avoid the car. He ended up on the side of the freeway, slamming the side of the car against the big wall that is there. The chassis became a rhombus.

The police came but didn’t write a report (I guess because no other cars were involved). I didn’t report the loss to my insurance company. I didn’t want the ding on my son’s record. Call it a graduation gift. We ate the loss. It was a 12-year old car, so it didn’t sting too much. (Well, it stung a little.)

Now I’m driving a Subaru with 207,700 miles on it. I’d like to get it to 250,000 or even 300,000–but I’m probably going to have to replace the transmission to do that. When it dies, I’m not sure I can justifying buying another car. I mean, I work at home, and one of my main clients is half a mile away, so I can walk. I don’t need a whole car just for me.

Ah, but I love cars and I love driving. I’m the grrl driving alone, singing loud and dancing in my seat. I wish cars weren’t so bad for the environment. I want one of those veggie oil cars. I also want this…

Honda Ridgeline

The lovely Honda Ridgeline. Read about this thing of beauty here.

Or maybe this Subaru Impreza WRX STI 2.0 described as “a brilliant piece of kit.”

Alas, the personal internal-combustion automobile is sooooo last century.

This week, my friend A. is borrowing my car because hers is in the shop with a bum master cylinder. So I’ve been taking the bus and the Gold Line. Not just around Pasadena–I’ve been to Hollywood. To Koreatown. If you want to spend more time reading and less time driving, the bus is great.** There’s a whole lot more to say about public transportation in Los Angeles, but that’s for a future post.

For now, ICME (It Caught My Eye) – This guy riding the bus—obviously on his way to work here.

Bentley cap


*For you locals, I mean the Mountain Street exit that takes you to the Rose Bowl, not the Mountain Avenue exit in Monrovia. So next time you happen to be driving on the 210 from La Canada or other points north into Pasadena, check out the wall on the right after the Mountain exit. You will see scrapes on the wall–remnants of many crashes.

**I’m reading Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. Love it. Great recipes, too. Got it from the Pasadena Public Library.


This is a personal blog. Expect a potpourri of stuff.

4 thoughts on “The Death of the Land Cruiser

  1. Ouch! Glad your son was ok.

    My husband drives a paid-for Land Cruiser. It truly does suck gas, but he only commutes about 7 miles, so it’s not so bad.

    Darn car’s a bit too big for me. Plus, no good place to put my purse. 🙂

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