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Confessions of a fan

I am not a car aficionado. I don't read car magazines. I have no mechanical aptitude. I currently drive a 9 year old Honda Accord -- which I am quite happy about, thank you very much. When it's time to purchase a new car, I'll aim for Consumer Reports and look under "reliability" and "value."

And yet.

A while ago, I discovered Dan Neil. His columns kind of crept up on me. To be fair, I did notice when he received a Pulitzer. I thought something along the lines of, "Wow. Someone who writes car reviews won a Pulitzer. He must write pretty well." But he worked for the L.A. Times, all the way across the country, and there was more than enough for me to read here, and so I forgot about him.

Then one Saturday, I had a blank half hour and had read everything else of interest in the paper. The the car section sat there, untouched. I glanced at the first line of his syndicated column and the next thing I knew, I had finished the whole damn long review. Do I remember which car he reviewed? No. Nor a word of what he said. I didn't even notice that he was the one who had written it. I do remember I was grinning.

A month or two later, I had a few minutes on a Saturday. I had read everything else of interest in the paper and I noticed the car section. "There was that good article, once." I found his column. And, damn, it was good.

And so it started.

I didn't look for his columns. In fact, it took me several years to figure out that the car section appeared on Saturdays in our paper. (As I said, I'm *not* a car aficionado.) But whenever I ran across them, I gave myself the time to finish them. They're that good.

Don't believe me?

Check out the one that appeared this week. Had me smiling. Right to the end.

So now, I do look for his columns. Every Saturday. Right after reading the comics.

Has he changed my outlook on cars?  Well, when it's time to purchase a new one, I'll still check out Consumer Reports and look under "reliability" and "value." I'm boring that way. But I do know which pickup to borrow if I want to haul some heavy stuff. Or why it's more fun to go fast in a slow car than slow in a fast car. Or, you know, what to drive if I ever want to wear a raccoon on my head.

Thank you Dan Neil.


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