No need to buy a car alarm, get a Taurus

October 21, 2004|By KEVIN COWHERD

HERE'S SOMETHING that'll really make a person feel good about himself: The car I drive is considered so undesirable that even thieves don't want it.

Yes, we're talking about the Ford Taurus station wagon - one of the big, lumbering beasts squats in my driveway, spreading an oil slick the size of Lake Erie, even as I type this.

Anyway, according to a new report, the Taurus wagon ranks with the Buick LeSabre and Buick Park Avenue as the car most likely to leave thieves saying: "Nah, think I'll call it a night."

If you care about these things, the Cadillac Escalade EXT ranked as the vehicle the bad guys lust after most, mainly because of its pricey wheels.

And the Nissan Maxima, with its cool, icy-blue headlights, was the second most popular car with thieves in the report released this week by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which tracks theft claims.

But back to the Taurus wagon, the car most likely to make thieves yawn. (Funny, it has the same effect on me.)

Apparently, you could take a Taurus wagon to the worst part of town and leave it there with the doors open and the keys in it, and no one would steal it.

In fact, you could leave it there with the engine running and a big sign that says "STEAL THIS CAR AND WIN A FREE PLASMA TV!" and no one would steal it.

Hey, do I know how to pick cars, or what?

But let me say this: I'm in total agreement with the car thieves on this one.

In fact, my opinion of car thieves has been greatly elevated by this report.

There are so many reasons to hate the Taurus wagon that I hardly know where to begin.

For one thing, it's totally unhip.

It has the turning radius of an aircraft carrier.

And it offers the same smooth, jiggle-free ride as a horse and buggy.

But there are two reasons in particular that I hate my Taurus wagon.

No. 1: Most of the time you're behind the wheel, you can't see what gear you're in.

This is absolutely true. Somehow, they designed the steering wheel so it often blocks your view of the part of the dashboard where the gear indicator is.

No wonder car thieves don't mess with the Taurus.

If a thief broke in and tried to throw it in reverse to get away, he'd probably put it in drive by accident.

Then he'd ram through the wall in front of him, knocking himself unconscious until the police came.

No. 2: When you're driving, you can't see the front of the car.

See, the hood slopes downward at such a drastic angle that you can't see where it ends and the bumper begins.

So when I'm pulling into a parking space at, say, a strip mall, I don't know if I'm in all the way until I hear the horrible crunch of the license plate scraping against the curb.

That's a heck of a way to park a car. You ought to see my front license plate. It's taken a worse beating than Sinclair Broadcasting stock.

OK, I know what you're thinking here.

You're thinking: Didn't you see any of these design flaws when you first test-drove the car at the dealership?

And the answer is no.

First of all, when I test-drove the car, I had this little salesman with a bad comb-over and a loud tangerine sports coat yapping at me the whole time.

This guy didn't shut up from the moment he handed me the keys until we came back to the dealership 20 minutes later.

So I wasn't thinking about design flaws as we drove.

I was thinking: How can I kill this guy and get away with it?

Plus, you know how it is when you test-drive a car.

Basically, you're concentrating on three things: What kind of pick-up does the car have, how many cup-holders does it have, and how big is the CD changer?

The last thing you're thinking about is: Am I going to need sonar to park this baby?

OK, now maybe you're thinking another thing.

Maybe you're thinking: If the car's that awful, why don't you get rid of the damn thing and get something else?

That's a good question.

A very good question.

And I think I have a pretty good answer.

The reason I don't sell it and buy something else is, I'm too dumb.

Way dumber, it turns out, than most car thieves.

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