An Ode to the Filling Station


This post originally appeared on Car Lust December 10, 2013

I decided to resurrect this post after Oregon recently decided to let its fair citizens pump their own gas for the first time since 1951. . .at least in certain counties with low populations. After all, what is more common, more unobtrusive, more benign than stopping for a couple of minutes to fill the old car up with gas?

I guess a lot of stuff, if you live in urban Oregon or New Jersey. But how did such a ubiquitous facet of daily life come into being in the first place?

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AMC Hornet: The Best Bond Car Ever

Note: I am posting this to honor the passing of Roger Moore in whose film this car appeared.

“He’s mad, I tell you, mad!”

No, I’m not. (“Denial! That’s the first sign!”) Friends and fellow car lovers, before you start composing angry emails to management berating them for letting a raving lunatic type his incoherent rantings into the blog, first lend me your eyes and allow me to make the case.


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What Did Jesus Drive (WDJD)?

Note: This post first ran at Car Lust, ermmm, many moons ago (I don’t remember the first time) and has appeared regularly at Easter.

A somewhat farcical question to be sure, but one that we here at Car Lust are more than JesusDrivingwilling to throw ourselves into with gusto. This post has as its ultimate source a small movement some years ago by environmentally-directed religious groups to get people out of their gas-guzzling SUVs and into smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. While the merits of this quest of theirs is beyond the scope of this post, it nevertheless spurred me to ponder the question: Just what did Jesus drive?

Admittedly, a small treatise on the wheeled vehicles present in the early 1st century AD Levant isn’t all that relevant to modern drivers. OTOH, it’s still (IMO) a useful exercise that may shed some light on our common wheeled heritage going back a bit further than the initial stabs at automobiles early in the preceding century. Besides, a little foray into ancient history never hurt anybody and it might add another small  dimension of humanity to the divine that many of us are celebrating this coming weekend.

So, come with me as we journey back 2,000 years to see what sort of wheels our Car Lusting forebears were perhaps drooling over and come at least a little closer to answering the age-old question of: What Did Jesus Drive?

(Yes, there are many potential answers. However, it should be obvious that if Jesus did come back today, He would certainly drive a 15-passenger Econoline van: room for the 12 Apostles, plus the two Marys, of course!)

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The Thing.

“Beautiful Ugliness in a Wheeled Breadbox” is how a 1974 issue of Popular Mechanics described The Thing. “I saw the Thing and it was so ugly it was cute,” one owner said, describing his first encounter with his Thing.

Perhaps no other car has so perfectly typified its nameplate than the Volkswagen Type 181, known in the US as The Thing. Though I was just a wee lad when it was first introduced to the North American market in 1973 I recall that it was billed as the quirky, fun successor to the original Type 1 Beetle. It certainly was quirky.thingorange

Recreational off-road vehicles were becoming more common in the late ’60s and early ’70s thanks to the budding environmental movement and the continued rise in discretionary spending among younger buyers that had made the Mustang so popular years earlier. Jeep CJs were abundant and Ford’s Bronco, introduced in 1966, contributed to the rising popularity of what would eventually become the SUV. Into this growing market segment stepped … Volkswagen?

Note: This is not a post about the song or The Thing.

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