The Shiny Civic

In early 2020, after the Downfall of the Fiesta, I found myself in need of a new (to me) car. I greatly dislike car shopping and was already somewhat disgruntled at how short a time the Fiesta had lasted me, but circumstances were forcing my hand.

As my commute is nearly half an hour in traffic, one feature I dearly wanted was an adaptive cruise control which would follow the car in front of me. And I like small cars, ideally hatchbacks, and in the late 2010s it seems like the best option of a small(ish) hatchback with adaptive cruise control was the Honda Civic.

I went to CarMax, as their website made it easy to browse their inventory and their prices seemed at least reasonable. They offered to pay the princely sum of $2000 for the Fiesta. The CarMax in Raleigh did not have a car with the features I wanted, but there was one in Virginia that did have these features. They offered to transfer the vehicle at no charge, so I took them up on that. They told me it could be up to two weeks though, so I began looking elsewhere in the meantime.

A friend (and fellow engineer) recommended cars.com for their powerful search feature which allowed very detailed filtering, a problem I had been lamenting in other sellers’ websites. Sure enough, using that site I found a small, independent dealer near our house that had just gotten a car I wanted with the feature I wanted – a Honda Civic Sport hatchback with adaptive cruise control (called Honda Sense by that particular manufacturer).

The very next day, a Thursday in late February, my wife and I took a trip out to said car dealership. The only complication: it was snowing. Stuff was starting to shut down (as it does here in North Carolina when it snows), but the dealership was still doing business.

As you can tell from my previous car, I have a thing for vehicles of interesting color. However, my upbringing also instilled in me a sense of practicality, so I wasn’t willing to pay a premium for a rare or interesting paint job. This car was listed as sonic gray pearl, a blue-gray color that’s not exactly typical but not nearly as flashy as the electric wasabi hatchback I had been driving. Ah, well. I didn’t really get a chance to inspect the paint job anyway because it was covered in snow. So long as it seemed to be in good mechanical condition and had the features I wanted, I was set.

We took it for a test drive (a bit more gingerly than my usual test drives, due to the winter weather) and I was able to confirm that the adaptive cruise control could follow a car all the way to a stop, which is what I wanted to help cope with the stop-and-go traffic on I-40. Despite being a used car, it was in near-new condition and less than two years old, so we decided to bite. I was a little concerned that the bit of body work I could see through the snow didn’t match the color description on the website — it wasn’t the blue-gray of sonic gray pearl, it was a more standard gray color. But I had already decided to let go of my dream of a uniquely-colored car, so I kept a stiff upper lip and carried on.

By the time we’d signed the paperwork, it was snowing in earnest (I discovered on the way home the limitations of my coveted adaptive cruise control technology: when it’s snowing hard and / or the sensor is covered in ice, it doesn’t work. Good job we test drove it before the weather got too bad!). I jumped in the car and followed my wife home (not because I don’t know where we live but to make sure she got home safely, although to be fair her car is all-wheel drive so maybe she should have followed me home!).

The next day, I was to drive out to Southern Pines for the weekend. I waited until about noon so the snow would mostly melt off and then set out in my new Civic. I arrived, parked, and got out of the car. As it caught the sunlight, I noticed something: this car was not sonic gray pearl or a boring, standard gray…it was a Car of Many Colors!

The previous owners had applied a custom vinyl wrap to the whole car that looks gray in the shade but in the sun iridesces into a rainbow of color. I’m not even sure the car dealership really knew what they had (they had just gotten it in and hadn’t even taken pictures of it for their website).

Not only did I get the car I wanted, I even got my wish of an interestingly-colored vehicle!

As of this writing, this car is my daily driver, although at the moment it’s sitting in my driveway under a car cover because even though the stay-at-home order has been lifted, we’re not really going anywhere for a while until the craziness subsides.

If you live around Raleigh and see a flashy Civic driving down the road, feel free to give me a wave 🙂

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