Why yes, I am. Thanks for noticing.

It wasn't hard. Normally you are such a bubbly, positive people person.

Now you're just being mean.

Sorry. So what's wrong? They forget to stock the candy machine at the newspaper with enough Reese's Peanut Butter Cups again?

Actually, yes, but that isn't it. It's this car, this 2008 Chrysler 300C SRT8.

But you love that car. Big 6.1-liter, 425-horsepower Hemi V-8 engine, solid German five-speed automatic transmission, excellent handling, quiet ride, comfy on the highway, understated, kind of elegant. That car is YOU. Or at least Ryan Seacrest. What's not to like?

Well, just one thing: The mileage stinks. It's EPA-rated at 13 miles per gallon city, 18 mpg highway, and I couldn't even match that. And it likes premium gas. It has a 19-gallon fuel tank, but it almost seemed like you could actually see the gas gauge go down. I mean, I know this is a big, 4,160-pound sedan, with a roomy back seat and a large trunk and a stately nose that does not exactly slice through the wind. And I know the federal government socks buyers with a $2,100 "gas guzzler" tax. And even that doesn't bother me so much.

Why should it? You don't have to pay that tax.

I know, but even if I bought a 300C SRT8, I'd figure the guzzler tax, and the 11 miles per gallon I averaged, were just the cost of doing business. But premium gas, at my station, is $3.41 a gallon. And I'm driving along, trying to enjoy the great burble from the exhaust, and the leather upholstery, and the Sirius satellite radio, and there's this computer readout that shows all kinds of performance statistics, such as recording your 0 to 60 mph time, and I want to feel like Tony Soprano, but I'm feeling more like Big Pussy. I don't mean dead like Big Pussy, but just kind of -- you know, tread upon.


Because every 11 miles, I'm thinking, "That just cost $3.41. Did I have $3.41 worth of fun that last 11 miles?" I drove to work and back yesterday; it was pretty close to an 88-mile round trip. Which would take eight gallons of premium. Which would cost $27.28. At what point does driving a fast, powerful car seem no longer that much fun? I'd suggest it would be right about -- now.

Again, may I point out: You don't have to pay for that gas.

Actually, I did. My newspaper gasoline credit card expired.


Ouch, yes. Ouch.

So, Mrs. Lincoln . . .

Yes, I did enjoy the show. Even at $48,995, this is one of my favorite cars. Pretty much Chevrolet Corvette performance with a rear seat and a trunk and enough soundproofing to cruise the New Jersey Turnpike in solitude. I love these big American V-8 engines (even if this one's built in Mexico), grew up with them, their sound is a lullaby. But man, $27.28 a day, that would be $136.40 a week, and that's to go to work!

Bada bing, old chap.

Meaning, what?

Big Pussy would understand.

Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smithcan be reached at