A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Silvie Retires

Silvie got her new plates today. She's officially an antique! Insurance is ruinously expensive everywhere in Massachusetts, and twice as high in Springfield as in surrounding towns. With cool weather coming on, and gas prices out of sight, I won't be putting too many miles on a convertible with a V-8 engine. So this was my economical solution, and I hope she doesn't mind too much.

A solution arrived at, I might add, after much research and deliberation. Insuring a car as an antique is a third the cost of regular insurance, but driving privileges are limited. The car can be used in parades, shows, and cruises, driven to and from the repair shop, and test-driven to get ready for a show. But not to transport passengers or goods.

That basically means that the car can't be used for commuting or errands. Otherwise, it's a bit of a gray area. A car that's not winterized has to be driven a bit on a regular basis or lots of things will start to go very wrong. (Don't ask me how I know that.) So a twice-weekly spin could be called "test-driving." And stopping at Starbucks for a coffee on the way home from an event, or even for a gallon of milk, should be allowed.

Another option--even cheaper than antique insurance, is collector car insurance. I obtained a quote for it online, and got prematurely excited. It was only a third of the cost of antique insurance. Car owners can deal directly with these collector car companies, if they don't want to use an independent agent, so I decided to call myself. No voice mail--just a rather snooty-sounding lady picking up the phone. One of the first things she asked me was if I had another car registered in my name.

No, I said. Well then, we can't insure you, she replied. You are not allowed to drive your collector car to work or to the store. But, I answered, I have the use of another car, except it's not registered to me. I suppose, though, that I could have it put in my name, if that's what it would take.

Even then we wouldn't insure you, said Snooty. Not now that I know your situation. What if the real owner wanted to drive it? Then you'd be tempted to drive your collector car.

I was beginning to realize that becoming a client of this company was like getting into a country club, except that even country clubs are not like country clubs any more. I thanked Snooty for her time and hung up. And just as well. Turns out her next question would've been, do you have a locked garage in which to keep your collector car? And I don't.

So I opted to go the antique route, and we'll see what happens. It might turn out to be another adventure. I am a card-carrying member of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America, and who knows? Maybe next spring we'll start making some new friends our own age.



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