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DEFEND YOUR RIDE: Peter And Elise At North Star Bar

"It's just the right amount of room for a mid-sized P.A. system, an amp, and a couple of instruments."

The Ride
The Drivers: Peter and Elise
Car in Question: Light Blue 2006 Toyota Matrix
Spotted at: North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Odometer: 48,500
Car's Nickname: Molly


Q: Where and how did you get your car?

Peter: We previously lived in South Philly and were carless. We knew we'd be house-hunting soon, which seemed insane to do without our own car. We test drove a Scion xA, but it felt like a piece of plastic. We had ridden on a few long car trips in a family member's Matrix and it felt comfortable.

Elise: I loved the Mazda3. I imagine driving it is like having it become an extension of your body. Unfortunately, we knew we wanted to buy a used car and we couldn't find one.

Q: How would you describe your purchasing experience?

E: We bought the car from Dayton Toyota in New Jersey. It was a good experience. We were able to negotiate on price and the process was pretty easy. They helped get everything in order for the car to be registered in Pennsylvania. We got to drive it off the lot later that day.

Q: Where do you live?

P: We moved to Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania about a year ago after living in the city the entire time we've been together. Over eight years at that point!

Q: How old are you?

P: I just turned 30, which seemed like a good time to get my license.

E: Twenty-eight and driving for over 11 years now. I've only been the designated driver for over 90 percent of our relationship.

Q: What's your car's main use? How much time do you spend in it?

E: It gets some miles for things like groceries and shopping, but we use it mostly to get to our many music commitments. My band, Filmstar, practices in our house. I'm mainly driving to shows and choral rehearsals. I've driven it to work a few times.

P: We've always been musicians, so we expected the Matrix would be subjected to transporting gear, but neither of us expected that we would both be fronting rock bands and playing shows every month. It's just the right amount of room for a mid-sized P.A. system, an amp, and a couple of instruments.

Q: What's your favorite day trip?

P: I love to spend the day in New Hope. I wrote a song for Arcati Crisis, my rock duo, about parking on the Lambertville side and then walking back and forth across the bridge from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. I also like to drive to the Lancaster outlets.

E: Is it lame if say I like to visit my parents in Central New Jersey?

Q: Where's the furthest place you've driven to with this car?

E: The farthest we've driven is, I think, Vermont. We went up twice to visit a college friend--once for a wedding and again to stay on her farm. Peter loved the chickens and the electric fence around the chickens.

Q: What about your craziest trip?

P: Our craziest trip was actually a few weeks ago. Elise's brother was moving from New Jersey to his first apartment in Philly. He "just" needed us to bring a chest of clothes back with us. And a refrigerator. And two bean bag chairs. And his two friends visiting from Philly. And him. We filled 90 percent of the entire interior. I had beanbag chairs packed around me in the front seat like those bags of air they used to pad packages with.

Q: Do you have any car rules?

P: I won't let anyone text while they're driving, myself included.

E: No startling noises including gasping, shouting, or anything that falsely leads me to believe that I'm about to hit something or vice versa. Peter violates this rule frequently.

Q: What do you listen to in your car?

E: I like the radio, but CDs or the iPod for longer trips.

P: Our official travel album is Sheryl Crow's 1996 self-titled LP. Garbage's greatest hits lives permanently in the center console. Lately it's been a lot of Mieka Pauley and Eisley.

E: Most anything with good harmony is good accompaniment for a car trip.

P: Yes, definitely harmony. Car speakers can be really good for isolating vocals. Elise taught me how to sing harmony in her old Toyota Corolla.

Q: If your car had a human emotion, what would it be and why?

P: I don't know about an emotion but I drive the car as if I'm a half-blind 80-year-old woman with cataracts. I freak out if I go a mile above the speed limit and I slow to a crawl to make left turns.

E: I'd be more worried if you were the 80-year-old woman that doesn't slow down to make left turns. But if anything, I think our car is dependable/responsible and would probably be a bit fondly exasperated with our wackiness.

Q: How many miles do you think are in the life of your car?

E: Hopefully a lot. Do Toyotas even die? I thought they were just eventually retired to that big garage in the country. That's what happens, right?

Q: What do you think your next car will realistically be?

P: I need to get a beater that can hold a few amps to bang around the city in. Also, we need an iPod dock in the dash. I've had enough of futzing with those radio signal things to last a lifetime.

E: Realistically? It'd probably another boringly responsible family car. Eventually, I'd really like to have a convertible. I enjoy driving and who doesn't like the wind in their hair?

Photos and interview by Michaelangelo Ilagan

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