Friday, August 10, 2012

Mr. Echo

A short tribute to my beloved Toyota Echo, which was officially traded in two days ago and then presumably instantly crushed into a cube.  After 12 years, 228K+ kilometres, countless trips between London and Toronto, a few noticeable rust spots, a half-bottle of red nail polish that leaked under the front seat during the filming of a vampire movie for film class, and about a billion jokes about the car phone*, the Echo is no more. 

* = Yup, a car phone.  Frankly, it was a great little device, as back when I delivered pizzas, I could talk and drive at the same time via the little microphone attached to the roof.  Of course, practicality quickly gave way to, "Wait, it's 2012, who has a car phone?"  I legitimately thought about having the phone kept and installed in my new car as a running joke.   

Of course, the Echo brand itself has been defunct since 2004 when Toyota essentially just merged it with its Yaris line.  So for the last eight years I've literally been driving an antique.  Instead of a trade-in, maybe I should've called up Jay Leno and inquired if he would take my Echo off his hands.  Jay seems like a nice guy (uh, unless you're a rival talk show host) so maybe I could've at least gotten an appearance on The Tonight Show out of it.  It's always been my dream to appear on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson With Conan O'Brien With Jay Leno. 

I'm admittedly not a car guy.  While I appreciate a nice vehicle, I see cars as just ways to get from A to B with as little fuss as possible.  As such, the Echo was perfect for my needs.  Good on gas, small and maneuverable through Toronto's traffic (the word 'zippy' was used more than once to describe it) and though small, was still pretty spacious on the inside.  I'm not going to tell you what the record was for most people fit inside the Echo at one time, but let's just say that if you're thinking of a clown car, you aren't wrong.  Sure, the Echo's small size led to the occasional problem, like kinda shaking when I drove on the highway during very windy days, but really, what car owner hasn't experienced the common fear of worrying that their vehicle will literally be blown off the road?  Plus, I always figured that driving a small car served as subtle advertising.  You know how when you see a guy with a big fancy car, you wonder if he's over-compensating?  Well, by that logic, a guy who drives a small car…

My new vehicle is a Hyundai Accent and while somewhat Echo-ish, it certainly represents an upgrade.  If all goes well I'll have this car for at least a decade as well, so I have ten years to figure out the proper pronunciation of the make.  (Is it Hun-dye, or Hie-un-dye?)  It passed the first test, as I drove from London to Toronto yesterday and not once was threatened by getting dragged along in the airstream of a passing transport truck.  Also, AIR CONDITIONING.  Oh god, the Echo's AC hasn't worked for three years, so now I can finally drive around without getting a sweat stain on my shirt from the seatbelt strap.

If you're looking for a car, I guess my first recommendation would be the Accent, but you can't go wrong with a Yaris.  It's a fine automobile and a worthy successor to the Echo's legacy of….um, let's just say greatness.  By the end, my Echo might've looked like the Smoke Monster had tossed it into a few trees, but I thoroughly enjoyed that car.  I'll pour one out in your honour, Echo, which was ironic since despite all the other technical problems, you never leaked anything out.  Strong pipes, my friend.  Strong pipes.

Quick question, does anyone know where to buy a car phone?

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