Mechanically Speaking

Mechanically Speaking

Mechanically Speaking: I like to drive … most of the time

"Somehow time had blurred my judgement or this version of the minivan had gone downhill from the last one I drove."

I like to drive… at least I used to like to drive. I am freshly back from a short whirlwind vacation of sorts. Five days in the Silicon Valley. The home of tech. Maybe the birthplace of the autonomous car?

No, I did not drive from the Kootenays to there. I flew. By the way, it was the most uncomfortable flight I have ever taken. I had negative legroom. Good thing Vancouver to San Francisco is only a bit over two hours. I know my legs are no longer growing so this was the least legroom on a plane I have experienced. Thank you Air Canada Rouge.

We chose to rent a car when we got to the San Francisco airport. We sort of had three areas to go to: Santa Cruz, Sunnyvale, and San Fran while enjoying all the beauty in between. My rental car of choice; Chrysler Town and Country.

I was chastised repeatedly by my teenage son. “A minivan? This thing is a piece of crap.”

Ahhhh… our nation’s youth.

Our vacation included five people and surfing. That Town and Country easily swallowed four surfboards and five people comfortably. My automobile selection was redeemed. Let’s see a Tesla or a Maserati provide that kind of yeoman service. Thank you Lee Iacocca.

I had fond memories of Chrysler’s minivans. Somehow time had blurred my judgement or this version of the minivan had gone downhill from the last one I drove. I dreamed that they were nice quiet cruisers with reasonably sharp steering and handling.

This one was maybe one of those Monday or Friday cars. It was noisy inside. The suspension was just plain jiggly. The six speed automatic thought it should be in sixth shortly after you got going and it would stay there until you forced it with the Mercedes style dashboard stick shift or you prodigiously prodded the accelerator pedal.

In case you have not been to the San Francisco Bay area let me tell you it is simply big city driving. Six to eight lane freeways and 70 miles per hour speed limits and congested traffic. Exits going all directions. Left right and centre. When you are not one hundred per cent sure where you are going it makes for an intense, frustrating driving experience.

Thank goodness for our trip out to Santa Cruz where I was caught by a few waves on my surfboard. I got to drive the coast Highway 1 from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. It was a weekday and the trip was relaxing and gorgeous. Then there were some windy mountain roads in Woodside and Sunnyvale. I will be back some day with my Porsche.

Everyday included at least an hour or two of that intense freeway driving. Choosing the correct lane to drive in at any moment was a challenge. The GPS was helpful but not a total saviour. I started to wonder. Could an autonomous car take me on these freeways and get me where I wanted to go while I rested comfortably in a seat with plenty of legroom and while I listened to my favorite music? Would that really be possible?

I think my first Porsche will be autonomous with the autonomous off package. I guess I just want it all.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail:

Just Posted

A cougar, or cougars, went on a killing rampage at a small Fruitvale farm. Photo: Thomas S. on Unsplash
Cougar euthanized after taking out small animal farm in Fruitvale

Wildlife interactions, poachers or polluters should be reported to RAPP at 1.877.952.7277

The Trail Smoke Eaters will open the 2021 season on Oct. 8 against the Cranbrook Bucks in Cranbrook, and will have their home opener the next night against the same Bucks. Photo: Jack Murray
BC Hockey League announces 54-game schedule to begin in October

Trail Smoke Eaters open season with home-and-home series versus Cranbrook Bucks

“The Spirit of Family” enhances the Beaver Valley both in the daytime and at night. Photo: Submitted
Family sculpture installed at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall

Locals are encouraged to swing by Fruitvale Memorial Hall to take a… Continue reading

In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
COLUMN: The mystery of the time-travelling tourist

Was the man in a 1943 photograph checking his smart phone?

The flotation line at Gyro Park beach in East Trail, shown here during low water, is for emergency purposes only and does not delineate a safe swimming area. Photo: Trail Times file
City of Trail cautions beach users

Gyro Park beach questions should be directed to the roads superintendent at 250.364.0817.

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read