American ingenuity: could the motorized La-Z-Boy revitalize the auto industry?
For decades now, people have been complaining that American car makers either a) weren't giving us what we wanted in terms or quality and features, and/or b) were giving us what we wanted (SUVs, trucks) even though it wasn't good for us.
One enterprising Minnesotan, Dennis LeRoy Anderson, responded to the lack of vehicle suitability by creating a town runabout for himself.
Forget fine Corinthian leather, this baby is black and blue pleather, powered by a lawn mower engine, goosed by a nitrous oxide power booster, and sporting a stereo and cupholders.
The cupholder feature is resonating, since Anderson was nabbed driving drunk last year, having run into a parked car after getting sloshed in a Proctor, Minnesota bar. (No one was injured, and it's unclear how much damage a pleather-based vehicle that can only go 15 m.p.h. could do to a car. The La-Z-Boy does not appear to have suffered much of a crash impact.)
The La-Z-Boy on steroids has been impounded, and will be auctioned off - likely on eBay - in the near term.
I will not be bidding, nor will my husband - even though I know that a motorized reclining chair has some appeal to him, his having purchased a leather massage chair at Brookstone's a number of years ago. Darn the luck, but when the massage component went he decided it wasn't worth repairing. I'm not sure whether we gave it way, or put it out in the trash - where it would have been claimed by someone in a heart-beat.
(Our previous give-away chair was a lovely oak antique with a bashed in cane seat that we'd picked up somewhere. I was planning on teaching myself caning - a completely ludicrous idea, as anyone who knows me will appreciate - and had even gotten a kit. Which sat on the bashed in seat of the chair for years, until we decided enough was enough. Jim put it out in the trash late afternoon/early evening. A few minutes after he put it out, I was getting off the Red Line at Charles Street station and encountered a man carrying the chair onto the subway car. He looked startled when I said, 'Hey, I know where you got that.' I hope he did a better job with the seat-caning than I did. It was a very pretty chair with good bones. Sigh!)
There's no word on whether Anderson plans to bid on his La-Z-Boy or rebuild another one for himself.
Personally, I'd like to see it in an auto museum somewhere.
I can picture it next to Gary Cooper's swank green and yellow 1930's Duesenberg convertible at the museum in Sandwich on Cape Cod.
In any case, I do want to give a shout-out to Anderson for demonstrating his American ingenuity.
Sure, as my sister Kathleen noted in the e-mail in which she sent me a link to this story, it may be an example of American ingenuity in its senescence. Still, Anderson was on to something with his fuel-efficient errand runner. Anderson is in his early 60's - target demographic for the motorized scooters they advertise on TV - the ones that claim that you get the scooter for free if Medicare denies you one. But instead of settling in to one of those geezer-scooters, he went out and created his own, idealized version.
Too bad he used it to commit DWI. (Note to those who were hoisting a few with Anderson on the night of his accident: friends don't let friends drive drunk, even when they're driving a tricked out La-Z-Boy.)
Still, there's a lot of potential here.
A love-seat could easily be converted into a starter car for a young couple just starting out. A full couch would make a good family car. And if you went with a pull-out couch, well, you'll have replaced a fuel-hogging Winnebago with something that gets some kickin' mileage.
If you had a converted dining room table, the kids could do their homework while mom or dad drove, which would be a lot better for them than watching a video from the back seat.
And all that fresh air! Can't beat it.
Yes, indeed, I do believe that Dennis LeRoy Anderson was on to something here. (And I also gotta believe, given his age, that Anderson got that "LeRoy" for composer Leroy Anderson of Blue Tango, Syncopated Clock, and Sleigh Ride fame, and an artist as unpretentious as, well, a La-Z-Boy. Aaron Copland, move over. What Leroy Anderson could do with a typewriter! Gives new meaning to the term keyboard artist.)
It will be interesting to see who scoops up Dennis Anderson's La-Z-Boy when it's up for auction. Perhaps there'll be some interest from Detroit - which is driving distance from Proctor, Minnesota (although it could take a while at 15 m.p.h., and with winter coming on, it might be rough going).
Meanwhile, I'll give the final word on this post to my brother-in-law, Rick, which I have to agree 100% with. Designing, building, and drunk driving in a converted La-Z-Boy: "here is the difference between men and women."