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My Little Red Pinto

3 mins read

By Lee Scott

The Little Red Pinto I owned was not a horse. It was a car. At the time I bought it in 1971, the Pinto Sedan was a new model Ford had released the previous fall. It was great. It had a vibrant red paint color, with a black interior, four-speed manual transmission, and an AM/FM radio. I perfected my clutch skills in that car on Maryland hills.

I recently test drove a new car. It was a different world compared to the old Pinto. I found myself sitting in the car and marveling at all the new gadgets. The new car would have been considered Science Fiction material back in the Pinto days. Most of us are accustomed to power windows and power seats, but the new cars go way beyond those extras. They are electronic wonders. First, I noticed there was no spot for the key. You must push a start button with the key close to you. My first thought was – where do I put my key after I have pushed the button; in my purse, in the side pocket? What about all those cute key chains I own? Will they become obsolete? How many people depend on key chains to open beer and soda bottles?

Then I took a test drive. Suddenly, I felt the steering wheel vibrate. What is going on? The salesman suggested I refrain from driving on the white line along the side of the road. Evidently the car has a mechanism that sends a vibration through the steering wheel whenever the white line is crossed. It felt like the car was screaming at me, “Pay attention!”

“How do I avoid the wind draft from those large 53-foot tractor trailers if I don’t hug the right line?” I asked the salesman. He did not respond.

Then I set the cruise control. I do love this feature especially when driving long trips. But the car kept slowing down and then speeding up without me doing anything.  “What?  Something is wrong with this car,” I told the salesman.  

“No, it is the adaptive cruise control,” he said.

Turns out the car has another feature. It keeps you at a certain distance from the car in front of you and slows you down as the car you are following slows down. Who knew?

When we returned to the dealership the salesman asked me what I thought of the car. As I stepped out into the summer heat, I said, “The car is incredible, and I enjoyed all the bells and whistles. But I must admit the best feature is the air-conditioning.”  

After all, that is a something never installed in my Little Red Pinto.    

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