Monday, January 25, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 78

Tice on Statistics

Parsons on Cars

Patel on Fanaticism

Staff Editorial

Letters to the Editor

About the Cougar

Check out those headlights

Jim Parsons

See the USA in your Chevrolet
America is asking you to call
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
America's the greatest land of all ...

That old Chevrolet jingle, now committed to the history books, reflects a time in American history -- the 1950s -- that wasn't so very long ago in the big picture, but is worlds away from where we are today.

It was before Civil Rights, before women's lib, before satellite communication and multiplex cinemas and Bill Gates and millennium paranoia. It was a time when people loved their cars. They anxiously awaited the new models and helped turn America into the road-conscious land it is today.

A lot of things have changed, but one thing that hasn't is America's passion for automobiles. Even if America isn't building the fastest and coolest autos anymore, we Americans will always love our cars.

Think about it. You may not consider yourself an expert on automobiles. You may not know the difference between a cam shaft and a carburetor. But chances are, at one time or another, you've dreamed about driving a certain car.

Maybe you just saw a sporty model go by on the street and thought, "Wow, I wish I had one of those," or maybe you actually wanted one so badly that you could feel the upholstery, smell the rubber and hear the purr of the motor as you pretended to speed off into the sunset.

Cars are something we openly covet -- something we are willing to spend more than half a year's salary to buy. It's no wonder so many of our memories are closely tied to automobiles.

It's no wonder that thousands of people line up to see the new models every year at the Houston Auto Show. And, naturally, it's no wonder that I was one of those people this weekend.

I love the car show. For those of you who don't know, it's a week-long event in which major car companies take space in the Astrohall, set up nifty displays and roll in their newest models and prototype cars -- their visions of what The Car of the Future will look like.

I love it because I get to look at what every automaker has to offer. I get to sit in some of the world's finest automobiles. I get to kick the tires (discreetly, of course), adjust the mirrors, press the buttons, mess with the radio and manipulate the gearshift. I get to go "Vroom!" and pretend I'm hitting the road in my stylish new $75,000 (insert name of dream car here).

Of course, it's all make-believe, and when I leave the show I have to hobble back home in my '83 Diatribe. But during the time I'm at the show, I can gawk and drool at the cars on display with everyone else.

People of all ages, shapes and sizes wandered back and forth between the displays, gathering to admire snazzy new cars like the Audi TT roadster and, of course, the Corvette.

You could tell people were excited to be there. It might have been because they were awed by being able to see the Nissan racing car that allegedly carries a $1-million price tag. Or it might have been that they loved to see the futuristic cars, like the new Mitsubishi convertible or the waycool Buck Rogers-inspired Chrysler. Or it was because they got to sit in the car of their dreams -- if only for a moment.

That's why I like to attend the Auto Show. I like the thought that something -- an automobile -- can get young and old people, males and females, excited. I like the thought that, whatever else changes, people will still be proud of getting the car they've always wanted.

But, if you decide to attend the car show yourself, here's a little hint: Don't let loose with an uninhibited "Vroom vroom!" if you're sitting in a car with strangers. Trust me on that one.

Parsons, The Daily Cougar's editor in chief,
will accept donation of a new Porsche Boxster (blue) 
at the Communication Building. He can be reached at

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