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One last trip

I recently returned from what will be the last great road trip in my 350Z. My lease is almost up and I've decided, despite how much I love the car, that it's best that I hand the keys back in. Part of that is the fact that having leased it new had I really wanted to keep it long term it would have been much more financially sound to just take out a loan from the start to purchase it. I instead went in thinking that around this time, late 2006, I was going to be in a different point in my life and that was about the time to give up the Z.

The original plan hatched back around the turn of the century was that I'd be buying a house now and switching to a more practical and inexpensive car would make life easier on the finances. Turns out I was a year ahead on the house purchase, but the fact remains that the 350Z is an expensive car. Not to mention that all of my traffic transgressions have also occurred in the Z. Now part of that is probably just the fact that I was lucky to not have gotten caught in my Maxima, but I think part of it also an unconscious bias that a sports car emits.

By transgressions I mean a little speeding, and a misunderstanding due to lack of road signage (which I'm still bitter about since, mostly because I don't think I defended myself in traffic court very well). Nothing too serious, but I know in my mind that continuing to have such a car just increases the chances that I'll want to use and test the full potential of the car. Yes I know I should just auto cross with it or something like that, but I've always been a little paranoid doing that with a leased vehicle.

The fact that gas prices have gone up since getting the car and that the Z requires premium gas increases the cost of owning such a car. Typically around the city I get really poor mileage per gallon, something in the ballpark of 12-16. Since this road trip involved a drive down to Virginia I was curious to see how it faired on longer drives. These finally tallies were all computed with the in dash multifunction display so I can only assume that they are accurate. I don't have a final tally of how much gas I bought to cross check.

These figures include both city and highway driving. I'm sure the numbers would be even higher if I had only tracked the highway miles. Total distance driven: 1,345.3 miles. Total driving time: 25 hours 26 minutes. Miles per gallon: 27.5. Average speed 52 MPH. Before leaving I filled all of my tires to 45 PSI cold which with the warmer weather heading south and the running temperature increase had me rolling most of the time on 48-49 PSI. Almost doubling my city MPG is pretty nice. I will say that cruise control is a must for long highway drives.

I will also say that most drivers have no situational awareness on the highway. There is no reason to be hugging the far left lane when there are almost no other cars on the road. Riding in the middle lane is just as bad since people will end up passing on the right, which while legal in most places just adds to the mess. And forget about drivers having any concept of a safe following distance. Many times I had to shift into slower lanes and drop my speed to loose drivers that couldn't set their own pace and instead would ride less than half a second behind my bumper.

I sometimes think that it would be nice to rig up an LED on the back of my car in order to flash messages to the other drivers around me. Your left blinker is on and you are in the far left lane. Please don't follow so close, it isn't safe if I need to stop quickly and I can stop very quickly. Traveling in the blind spot behind a tractor trailer is just asking for problems.

Tags: 350z life


Fly to Germany. Rent something built for the Autobahn. Drive on the Autobahn, and experience automotive utopia. Germans WILL NOT pass on the right. If you're in the left lane, they'll flash at you all day, until you move over. I had a favorite billboard over there - a car was in the left lane, with a long line of cars behind it. The caption was, "Und Sie?" The literal translation of "and you?" doesn't convey what that means, really. The point is that society actually cares enough about what Americans think is an unimportant, optional rule to make a billboard about it. I suppose the sentiment it's trying to convey is, "who IS IT you are passing now?" It's something I mutter constantly while driving in the Brownian motion that typifies the rolling chucklehead-fest that is a US interstate. A German undergoes roughly the same amount of training as a US private pilot to obtain a license. I feel orders of magnitude safer at 140 in Bavaria than at 55 in the US.
...almost forgot. I rode my road bike on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park this weekend. Apparently, there was a rally of some kind, because I was passed by a caravan of about three dozen 350Z's and whatever the analogous Inifinti coupe is. For some reason, the "rowr, rowr, rowr," of their passing, coupled with the "groupiness" of so many similar cars in a line put a huge smile on my face.