Hot Rides

What kind of vehicle gets you there?


In my life, it's been five or six years between new cars, many of them new only to me. So it felt amazing to be driving a new car every five to six days.

That's what life was like during this issue. Managing editor A. Kam Napier and I each drove four different new cars this month. Our usually sensible Kathryn Drury gave up driving her Saturn for a long weekend at the wheel of a Lincoln Aviator. "Suddenly driving a SUV gave me an incredible feeling of power," she says. "Look out."

Speaking of size and power, our editor-about-town Guy Sibilla upsized briefly from his Porsche to a Hummer. "It was wild. The Hummer's nearly seven-feet-high and seven-feet-wide, so I wouldn't fit any downtown garages. I had to park blocks from my office and walk to work."

A few months ago, as we were considering how best to do an automotive issue, we thought about how our readers relate to cars. For some people, a new car is primarily a matter of bargaining. (Our advice: The research you need is now readily available on the Web. Prepare, have your target ready, be reasonable.)

For others, a car decision is all about practicality-reliability reports and engineering specifications, serious hard-headed decisions.

Editor John Heckathorn with a Mazda RX-8, left, and managing editor A. Kam Napier with a Volkswagen Touareg, right, nearby Sandy Beach. Photo: Kent S. Hwang

But, we decided, even people with a practical bent have an emotional relationship to their cars. What you drive is who you are. People pour their feelings into their car. And, when you've driven a number of different vehicles in a short period of time, you realize the relationship goes the other way as well. A car changes how people react to you, and it also seems to change you in subtle ways as well.

If owning a car is a relationship, we had a number of short flings this month. Oh, we tried to be practical. We found out what it was like to commute in the cars, to go to Costco, to travel H-3 or Tantalus. I always tried the cars I was driving on what my wife calls the Onramp of Death, that nasty tight ramp onto H-1, eastbound from University Avenue.

However, as you can tell from reading our reports on how it felt to drive these cars, we briefly fell in love with some of them. Every time the little hybrid Toyota Prius glided through traffic with its silent electric motor, I just found myself smiling.

Sibilla enjoyed the way all the other drivers and everyone else on the street reacted to the site of the Hummer pulling up to a light.

For a long weekend, general manager Lyndon Lamphere of Pfleuger Acura let me drive his personal car, a stunning white TL with front and rear spoilers. I can't imagine how he parted with it that long.

As you might expect from a series of flings, there were some broken hearts. Napier is still recovering from having to give BMW of Honolulu back its Z4 convertible, the car that graces our cover. "I loved that car," he says. "And now, it never writes, it never calls."

For four days, I had a silver Mazda RX-8. I found myself making up excuses to go out driving. "Is that your car?" people asked me. No, I said, and shook my head sadly. I was so grieved to return the little sports car, that the minute I handed the keys back to Cutter Ala Moana manager Gary Scheuring, I found myself haggling over what one might cost.

People love cars.

Enjoy the issue.

John Heckathorn
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Honolulu Magazine April 2020
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