This handsome beast photographed by FotoSleuth (Flickr)

I was firmly in the grip of Cressida Madness. Reaching from deep within the bowels of Toyota City, their rangy fingers latched onto my hesitant heart with a combination of aspirational luxury and the common-man’s oh-so-desirable reliability.

Before me, the crowded exit gangway of the 737 was blocked by a stewardess, who reminded me in the sternest possible tone that while she enjoyed my patronage of the plane, I should refrain in the future from seizing the PA microphone from her during the safety briefing and loudly telling everyone onboard about how a manual transmission swap isn’t that hard. With that last point, she pointed to the Code of Conduct poster behind her, telling passengers to respect the disabled and, yes, even Slushbox-Americans regardless of their transmission choice. I shrugged sheepishly and muttered something about the passion of the moment.

Stepping off the plane, I could sense it. This was a land that did not know road salt. Before me, there would be an untold bounty of mint quarter panels, untouched rockers, maybe - and just thinking of it made my heart race - fasteners that could be removed without a torch. I fought down the urge to hyperventilate, preventing the stars in my eyes from forming a constellation in the shape of the MX73.

On the cab ride over, I compared the Prius to my fantasy image of the Cressida. My cabbie’s big-body-roll, battery-stuffed demi-minivan was slow, sure, but it was also unhurried - a principled departure from today’s rush-rush demanding of sports luxury. I imagined that the Cressida would be no different, although significantly less austere. At last, we arrived at the seller’s home.

He had sold it already. Of course he had.

I could see the fear in his eyes as I poured the last of the gasoline onto him. The reek of ethanol contamination soaked into the floral wallpaper of the home. As I worked, I could just dimly hear his muffled screaming through the gag. It was just as well that he had gotten rid of it, I thought. He was undeserving. Probably put twenty-two-inch wheels on it. Maybe even Lexanis. The thought made my hands tremble as I drew the match across the door frame, dragging a jagged scar of flint.