• Oct 16, 2006
The weekly New York Times Automobile section is always a good read, with articles written by people who clearly like cars, and topics that you just don't often find in the buff mags. Take this week's gem, a piece by Peggy Minnis on her daughter's search for a new vehicle. Now, you may be thinking that car shopping isn't exactly the most newsworthy topic, and for the most part, you're right. The Times piece has an angle, though.

You see, Peggy Minnis' daughter Margaret Jane plays the harp, and the cars she had on her shopping list had to be able to accommodate a full concert harp with all its accoutrements. Her current machine, a '92 Camry wagon, has seen better days (you can catch a glimpse of it in the photo above). To make that list of candidates, the vehicle couldn't be a minivan (too frumpy) and it had to have a low deck, which instantly eliminated most SUVs from contention. As such, the shopping list included a roster of modern wagons and a couple of crossovers. It's surprising to read the drawbacks some of the cars presented, and it becomes clear right away that all wagons are not equal.

Think the big Dodge Magnum was up to the task? Think again. Subaru Legacy? Uh-uh. Bimmer 5-series? Nope.

At least not if hauling a harp (or something similarly long and bulky) is going to be part of your daily routine. What's the winning ride? I won't spoil it for you here. Go read the article for yourself and enjoy. I certainly did.

[Source: NYT]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      After all that effort, it turns out that they didn't even buy the car! And apparently, they couldn't even afford the car of choice. As for the relevance of the article, 99.99% of us will never need to haul a harp. What a waste of time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I play the double bass, which is pretty big [though not quite as big as an orchestral harp!].

      We used to use a Volvo 850 before it became just too unreliable. Now we have a Seat Alhambra.

      Needless to say I had plenty fun taking the bass to car dealers.

      [Having said all that, my old teacher swore that she could fit hers into her original Mini. Darned if I know how - by strapping it to the roof, maybe? :/ ]
      DriftPunch
      • 8 Years Ago
      Quit yer bitchin'....

      Form follows function. Minivans displaced wagons for a reason, they are better suited to the task at hand.

      If she legitamately has a unique need (which she does), the author shouldn't complain that there's little out there while disregarding a whole category of plentiful options. Reminds me of the problem high maintence women have when they go to the closet and upon seeing rows of expensive dresses, claim "I've got nothing to wear!"
      • 8 Years Ago
      Element! But I'm a little biased on that, I own one, it's a great car. ;) I also used to own a mercedes, that was big bucks to keep running. If you can't afford one new, don't buy one.

      As for the big TV, friend of mine bought a 36" TV years ago, at the time he had a 1990 VW Jetta so that was a no go, but I had an 1988 Saab 9000 so we took that. The TV slid right in and the hatch closed, didn't even have to take it out of the box.
      • 8 Years Ago
      She called in to Car Talk a week or two ago, and Click and Clack recommended the Honda Element as a Harp hauler...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wanna have fun at an auto dealer's? Show up with a tape measure. Before the salesman can say anything, demand that he open the trunk of whatever model you're interested in. Start making measurements--width, diagonal, space between wheel wells, etc. That REALLY puts them on the defensive.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The NYT article represents the Subaru Legacy as having a 2nd-row seat that doesn't fold flat. I find this hard to believe, because our 2003 Legacy allows flat folding (if you flip the seat cushion forward first, and then flip the seatbacks down); so did our 1990 Legacy and 1986 GL wagons, for that matter, so the current 4th-generation Legacy very likely offers this feature as well and they just didn't figure it out (or read the owner's manual).
      Jane
      • 8 Years Ago
      As the harpist in the story, I would like to say that you must remember that stories for newspapers get editted. We did try many of the cars you have mentioned, including the Subaru Legacy, which my father owns and I tried to use when my own car was getting the head gasket replaced. The harp did not fit. It also doesn't work with cars that have "lips" from the bumper to the loading area.

      And...I do have another job.
      Dave C
      • 8 Years Ago
      When I read the article, all I could think was a quote from the Danish Composer Carl Nielson. "A Harp in one's orchestra is like a hair in one's soup."
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yeah, she was told to get an Element on "Car Talk", I guess it was not cool or $$$ enough? SAAB, Benz, Volvo.....

      You cannot beat a Gen III Camry wagon for space Vs economy. I just sold my 1992 and 1995 parts car. I hauld OSB, studs, pre-hung doors and windows in/on mine. More than most SUVs ever see.

      They could have the Camry rebuilt for less than 1/4 the price of any of those cars and have the space they need. At 159K it is not even broken in!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I recently bought a Scion xB for the room to haul my bass gear. It's a great option for musicians that need to haul amps, but don't want to drive an SUV. With the seats down I can get a full amp stack, amp head and several electric basses in with ease.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can find you a used 2003 E320 wagon for just over $26k

      just check out this website www.ncautoauction.com

      i found this website as I conducted a quick search for a used E320
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