The Los Angeles Auto Show just concluded last week. The vehicles have been taken back to their dealerships and the concept cars back to their secret locations in Detroit and places unknown. I attended the Auto Show this year not because I am not happy with my 2010 Toyota Corrolla, but because I was there on another job assignment and had the opportunity to tour the exhibition halls and sit in a bunch of cars I could never hope to afford.
One of these cars was an incredible looking sports car that was having its own press conference. The car did not respond to any questions but the builder of it spoke in his place telling throngs of car enthusiasts that this two seater sports car which is being built by hand by European craftsmen and looks very much more like an airplane without wings than a car, could be yours for a mere $450,000.
It was a mind boggling number made more stupefying when one considers that just a block or two from the Los Angeles Convention Center where the Auto Show was being held, you could find any number of homeless people living hand-made cardboard boxes on the streets. But you don’t have to be destitute to feel overwhelmed by the price tag of a car, however lovingly made by European craftsmen, that costs more than a house…even some houses in the L.A. real estate market. The car had people in its thrall, and the owner of the company, wearing a watch that could probably retire the national debt of Haiti, was rightfully proud of it. There are only going to be 50 of these little gems made and he told the auto magazine writers present that the American market is strong and they are confident they will sell every one of their vehicles.
Which got me to thinking…just exactly what were they selling? As I roamed aimlessly to other exhibit halls I found that other auto makers were selling the same thing whether they were high end European performance cars or more down to earth domestic and Japanese makes…and it wasn’t cars.
These cars, both high middle and low end models on display at the L.A. Auto Show were all selling happiness. Each brand was marketing to specific demographics and socio economic strata but were informing all that whatever their financial lot in life, there was contentment behind the wheel of a car that felt like you were sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet aircraft or at the helm of a speed boat or even behind the wheel of a car. It was all the same — whether you wanted to impress people with your wealth, impress them with your ecological consciousness or just wanted to replace the last car that was going to make you happy. And I’m sure the results, after the purchase of these wonder machines, even the one for $450,000, would be the same…emptiness.
I cannot fathom disposable income of the six figure variety, but I can imagine the anticipation in the heart of the person who plucked down nearly half a million dollars on one of these hand-made sports cars as he or she awaited its final detailing and then delivery to their driveway of what I’m sure leads to a garage that can handle four or more cars. I have two car garage you can’t get ONE car into due to the flotsam and jetsam of finished and unfinished home products and a general lack of organizational skills.
But however wonderful the feeling a new car, sooner or later all these shiny new vehicles, even the $450,000 ones, will be subject to Newton’s 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and the cellular structure will go from order to chaos and decline commences.
An Advent Season story? Absolutely. Maybe God had a little buyer’s remorse after the incident in the Garden but He has given us a full warranty and guarantee despite of ourselves. And the gift we get is not subject to the tyranny of Newtons’ scientific laws. No doubt a person who just plucked down half a million bucks on a car is filled with joyful anticipation for the car to arrive at their door. Christians, even car buying ones, have an anticipation season. You have to work at it these days with all the cultural collateral noise, but the true meaning of Advent of quiet anticipation and even somber anticipation isn’t the same as waiting for a silver bullet that can do 180 mph without breaking a sweat. But, thanks to Christ and His plan for our Salvation, we nevertheless have a delivery date that never disappoints.