My beloved Element gets a new stablemate
When I first test-drove a Honda Element back in 2003, I actually grinned. The first year of manufacture for this one-of-a-kind vehicle, I was drawn by the Old School practicality – squarish, roomy and no carpeting or bespoke fabrics for me. It reminded me of the vehicles of my youth. And, I loved the sweet little 5-speed shifter mounted up on the dash. With a trailer hitch and my own roof rack, this vehicle has served me well. In fact, with over 300 K on the odometer, it still serves me well. And, I still grin every time I get behind the wheel.
Nevertheless, as a beat-up Indiana Jones uttered in the original Raiders of the Lost Ark: “It’s not just the years, it’s the miles.” I still drive my Element every day, but she requires more and more attention from my mechanics. So, I have been pondering for years about her successor. Honda stopped selling Elements in 2011. A new Element was no longer an option and I am loathe to entrust my longer trips to a 7-year-old vehicle. Instead of buy the newest used Element, something new made sense.
My struggle was made easier by my grandson Jacob. Not yet a year old, he solved my problem by needing a seat. Susan’s ’17 Golf seats only 4 – as does even the newest Element. Whenever Jacob visits from Germany, we need a reliable vehicle that holds 5. And, I still need something to handle our snowy hills and cornfields – especially whilst pursuing waterfowl.
The Official Car of Washington County
So, like an amazing percentage of locals – at least those not driving 4×4 pickups of the Ford or Chevy persuasions – I began to consider the Subaru Forester. Tall, roomy, fabled reliability and off-road capability – we encounter Foresters and other Subarus on the local roads almost continually. Although not boxy and slab-sided the way I prefer my “trucks”, the Forester seemed like the closest thing to an Element in today’s marketplace. A test drive showed me great visibility and road manners – and I even abandoned the manual transmission for the CVT (continuously variable transmission).
There was just one problem….
From my earliest days, I was always drawn to good design. I am guessing that the first emblem – or logo or icon or insignia – burned into my brain was probably either…
I was always interested in cars, too. And, every American soon learns these two…..
I recall vividly my Grandfather’s MG-TD – British Racing Green with Biscuit interior, of course…..
The M and G within the octagon, too, caught my eye.
When I was growing up in the ’50s – long before today’s mega-dealerships, there was an MG dealer right on Main Street in East Islip.
Other logos from “across the pond” remain as classics:
In 1961, my Dad replaced his Willys Jeep with an “import” – a Volkswagen Transporter, compete with the canvas top. The VW insignia is one of the sweetest, in my view.
When I was in Eight Grade, I clearly recall seeing and being excited by the new MGM logo.
Simple. Bold. Unforgettable.
The Subaru logo, on the other hand….not so much…..
Although I know about the history – the Fuji Heavy Industries and the Pleiades and all – I always found it too “busy”. It does not grab the eye as a good logo must.
Once I picked up my new wheels, the first thing I did was to peel off the dealership “badges” on the hatch. The next step was to get in touch with Do It Yourself Lettering, Inc. in Florida (800.550.3883 or www.diylettering.com ) .
They have been making registration numbers and names for my boats for several years now. Their website has a great “design it yourself” feature – with hundreds of fonts and all the necessary colors and effects. Everything comes properly spaced and easy to apply. I could even design in the arc to match the camber of my aft coaming on my Barnegat Bay Sneakbox:
Because this was something a bit different – and certainly new for me, I sent an inquiry off to Brad Handy and his crew. After some ready assurances, I then sent off both my Goldeneye drawing file – which I drew for my first business cards back in the early 1980s – and the dimensions of the ellipse:
Because the badge is 3-dimensional – it is slightly convex – DIY Lettering recommended the material they use for vehicle “wraps” – those images we see covering entire cars and trucks. They also sized and located my image perfectly within the ellipse – and added a silver border that simplified installation.
I also covered the chrome “wings” on the grille with some Krylon Semi-flat spray paint.
Installation was a bit tricky on the curved surface. I still have a tiny wrinkle on the stern emblem.
Now for the next pet peeve – to modify the roof rack so it will actually carry lumber or a canoe…..
All the best,