What a gasoline junkie learned from going affordably electric

Electric evolution

 During the height of the pandemic, my wife and I made a decision that today seems pretty dang well-timed. With our daughter turning 16 and needing a car for work and school and my wife still needing a commuter car for her job as an elementary school teacher, we decided to buy an electric car.

For my wife, the decision came easy. Even before gas prices skyrocketed, she was still pouring $50 into the tank of her 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid every week and a half. She wanted to let our daughter take over the responsibility of paying for the Toyota’s gas and upkeep. In exchange, my wife wanted something she could plug into the house and drive around town. So we started looking at different electric vehicles, also known as EVs.

I was, however, a bit e-skeptical. Despite my conservationist claims, I’ve been a lifelong gas-hogging car junkie. In high school, my grandad helped me rebuild a rare, fire-breathing Corvette LT1 V8 engine that we dropped under the hood of my 1973 Monte Carlo. The gas gauge visibly dropped every time I floored the accelerator.

A young Chris Dixon (left) with his 1962 Cadillac coupe, circa 1987

After that came a 1962 Cadillac coupe whose tire-shredding 400 horsepower, 390-cubic-inch engine funded Saddam and the Saudis at 10 mpg. I followed that with a rare little German-built Ford — a turbocharged Merkur XR4ti. In Europe, the XR4 was the most successful touring race car ever built.

Eventually, my obsessions shifted to ’80s-era VW campers, and through the years, I would own six. I loved them. And I loved wrenching on them. But their unreliable engines barely managed 15 mpg.

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