When Worlds Collide
When in Rome, we must do as the Romans do — that’s what I hear, anyway. When life brought me to Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I reached out to a friend in the area and asked what kind of car events were going on during my stay. It turned out that my free time overlapped perfectly with the Electrify Expo in Long Beach, so off we went.
While waiting in line for the event to open, I noticed that the attendees weren’t the usual car people you’d see at a cars and coffee meetup, auto industry expo, or enthusiast show like RADwood. There wasn’t a Blipshift shirt in sight; I didn’t hear anyone rev their engine pulling into the parking structure.
The conversations were different, too. Instead of talking about what they drove, people were talking about what they had bought.
“Mine should be delivered early next year,” a man in front of me told another attendee. “I ordered last year so I’m pretty high on the list. Have you seen the specs? Let me show you.”
While he pulled out his phone to show off performance figures on a car that hadn’t yet been built, I tried to wrap my mind around buying a car (that I’m sure was not cheap) from a company that hadn’t built anything yet and being willing to wait more than a year to receive it.
“Look, dad, that’s a new car company,” another person in line said while pointing to a Kia logo up ahead. “It’s called KN.”
At least I wouldn’t have to keep up with people batting around chassis codes.
Once inside, I couldn’t make my way to the Polestar display fast enough. I’ve always enjoyed the weirdness of Swedish cars and the beauty of Scandinavian design. I’ll go so far as to declare the Polestar 2 one of the best-looking cars on sale in 2022. It’s clean, but not boring; elegant, but modest; futuristic, but classic.
Before the line got out of hand, I made my way to the test drive area to try one for myself. The subdued midnight blue exterior wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but the gold seatbelts definitely were and I love a glass roof. Every interior detail was crisp and well-placed. The controls were intuitive and I instantly felt a little more relaxed inside the peaceful cocoon of sound insulation.
On the road, the Polestar host walked me through some of the features and explained one I’d never considered before. With one-foot driving activated, the car accelerated like any other; but, when I let off the accelerator, the car automatically applied the brakes and engaged regenerative energy capture. It took a few tries to get used to, but the concept makes sense. Just watch out for drivers who get used to it and then climb behind the wheel of a traditional car — that could be a problem.
Throughout the morning, I took in the wildly expensive “post luxury” Lucid and evaluated the wheelie capabilities of various e-bicycles (for science, of course). For the first time at a car event, I had more fun observing the people than looking at the cars. I’d venture to guess that almost none of the attendees had been to a traditional car meetup before, and that’s fantastic. If you ask me, more people caring about cars is a good thing. If someone who didn’t get enjoyment from cars in the past can now get excited about an electric one, that makes me happy.
After seeing everything there was to see, I headed back to the parking garage where my Turo rental was parked and basked in the glory that is a 1993 Honda Del Sol.
The shock of jumping from a Polestar 2 to a 30-year-old Del Sol was physically jarring. I grunted and groaned as I folded my very average-sized frame into the driver’s seat. I marveled at how such a tiny car had room for such immense clutch pedal travel. I wrung the poor thing’s neck to pull onto Ocean Boulevard without becoming someone’s hood ornament.
If you think this was a negative experience, you’re mistaken. The Del Sol was charming in many of the same ways as the beloved Suzuki Jimny I drove several years ago. Sure, its naturally-aspirated 1.5-liter engine only managed to produce 102 horsepower in 1993 and has surely lost a pony or two in the last three decades. Yes, the speakers sounded like someone else’s headphones playing at full blast. The air conditioning was basically a noise-maker. But the rear window rolled down! The top came off and fit perfectly in the trunk, and I happily got the worst sunburn I’ve had in years cruising the Pacific Coast Highway between Oceanside and Del Mar. The engine, humble as it was, seemed to enjoy spinning to redline and I didn’t have to check my mirrors for police before obliging.
I can appreciate why little Hondas became so popular in the 90s. The Del Sol is approachable, fun, and reliable as an anvil. It isn’t powerful but it doesn’t need to be because it only weighs 2,400 pounds. If I were living under the year-round California sun, jockeying for parking spaces, and paying more than $6 for a gallon of gas, this car would be on my shopping list for sure.
That is unless I had a budget north of $40,000. Then I’d be munching on Swedish fish in the comfort of my Polestar 2.
Scott is a lover of motorized fun, whether on four wheels or two. A child of the ’90s, he has a particular soft spot for hatchbacks and believes all aging cars deserve a second chance at life. Scott works as a freelance marketer for Dingo Productions in Madison, Wisconsin. If he’s not behind a camera or a computer, he’s probably chasing down new coffee shops with his wife or throwing a frisbee for his dog.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.