It started with an oil change…

Paul was supposed to drive me somewhere in his dilapidated 1985 Dodge Colt hatchback; where has been forgotten and is really unimportant to this narrative. What was important is that he was over an hour late past the agreed-upon time.

His explanation? He had been changing the car’s oil as the warning light was on. That was acceptable, and even welcome as Paul was notoriously lax in his maintenance duties. His excuse needed no verification, as one could easily detect the odor of burning oil.

Too easily.

“I spilled some on the engine block,” he said.

We were about to leave the sleepy suburban enclave that we called home when I noticed that there was a thick blue-white cloud behind us.

“It’ll burn off shortly,” he said.

It did not. In fact, by the time we were on the boulevard leading out of town the entire car was enveloped in a thick smog. Paul finally relented to pull off the road, as we could barely see the cars in front, and we definitely could not see the car behind us.

We could, however, see the flashing blue-and-red light on top.

We abandoned the still-smoldering vehicle and walked to Jason’s house. Jason was a mechanic of no small talent, and he was curious to what happened.

After a brief interrogation we discovered that Paul had simply added oil to his car without taking the old oil out or even verifying that the correct amount had been added. I found this so funny that I added a brief “Car Maintenance Tip” web page to what some people might later have called a blog.

A few months later, I received a breathless phone call from Jason. It seems that while driving somewhere, the rear wheel of the car decided to move in a direction independent of the car itself.

“You mean, aside from having an anti-cloaking device, the Smogmobile also has an ejectable wheel?”

It was a revelation. Before the car self-destructed I was going to document each and every “feature” that the car offered to its driver. I was going to monitor every trip we took, every bizarre sight we saw, every ridiculous situation we found ourselves in. I sarcastically dubbed the project “The Roadtrip,” because there was no way anyone would ever risk taking that car out of town.

This is the four year history of the captain and crew of the Smogmobile 2000™.