sunnudagur, maí 28, 2006

on the automile

On Friday, I wrote about a new Iceland-Boston connection I found recently. Well, here's another: in the heyday of the weak dollar / strong króna of a year ago or so, it was possible to buy a new BMW in the States for about the price of a Toyota Yaris (an economy car so small it's not even offered in the US) in Iceland. Even with shipping costs and import duties it was still cheaper to buy there and import here. So Icelanders were buying cars about as fast as they could get them stuffed into Eimskip containers and shipped up through the cold North Atlantic. I imported a car when I moved here, and on that one ship leaving Everett, Mass. that day there were around 20 cars, mostly shiny new SUVs and pickups. My car shared a container with a giant silver Chevy pickup. A ship like that leaves Boston every two weeks, bound for the Land. A vast import lot down at the Reykjavík harbor was filled with cars waiting to clear customs.

The legacy of all this car importation is that the Reykjavík roadways carry a lot of cars with Massachusetts markings. Lahti's Jeep Leominster was just driving in front of me as we climbed Öskjuhlíð on the way to work the other day. A subsequently modified F350 from Ford of Hyannis (formerly the venerable Mid-Cape Ford, long-ago employer of my cousin; "It's a diamond, Bill!") sat in the parking lot at Kringlan shopping center. A green Mass RMV inspection sticker is plastered in the windshield of my coworker's black Mercedes. If we could only get some of those big made-only-in-Massachusetts ROTARY signs for the traffic circles here, it could staht to feel like I never left the place.


Blogger Kristen said...

This is a total waste of a first comment for me in your completely wonderful blog, but the US does have the Yaris now (yay!). We're finally (sort of) catching on to the whole small, economical car thing. No more H1 and everything.

Blogger JB said...

Wow, I had no idea. How about the Aygo?

Blogger Kristen said...

No Aygo yet. Honda did start marketing the Fit over here, however. (It's known abroad as the Honda Jazz.)

Baby steps.

Blogger JB said...

My cousin, a salesman at Mid-Cape Ford in its 80s heyday, writes in:

I enjoyed the reference to Mid Cape Ford. Here are a few others:

"Has the eagle landed yet? I gotta get to the bank before all the truckahs get thair." Pay day quote from Ricky D. We got paid on Fridays, sometimes in the morning, often times just before lunch. Ricky lived in constant fear that if the checks arrived too close to noon, he would be stuck at the drive through behind tradesmen "truckahs" in their work trucks, making their transactions during their lunch. Remember, this was Cape Cod in the 80's, no automatic deposit, ATMs just barely coming on line.

"Do you think they'll fire me?" As uttered by Rob after he totaled his second demo in less than 3 months as a result of drunk driving. He was indeed fired.

"You sir are what we call in the business...upside down." This is the description of having a loan balance higher than the trade in value. Always spoken very seriously and with a dramatic pause by George as he peered over the top of his half glasses while playing with his handlebar moustache.

"He eats cereal out of his ash tray." David A describing Reverend Tom. Tom was in fact a reverend. He did a mail order certification in order to take advantage of a tax loop hole for clergy (since closed). Tom also liked to go to the dog track and an unconfirmed legend around him was that he would fall asleep in his demo in the parking lot of the Taunton track, wake up the next day, get cereal & milk at Cumberland Farms and eat it out of his ash tray on his way to work.


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