You’ve spent every spare second of the past month sequestered in your garage hacking your old Frigidaire; entire weekends have been lost to the obsessive sawing, sanding, and welding, the labeling of wires and tubes, and the exacting dissection and reassembling of its motor, compressor, and evaporator. Itchy from fiberglass dust and delirious from the cloud of noxious fumes rising from the spray of refrigerator enamel, you work late into each night, long after everyone’s gone to bed. You haven’t sat down to dinner with your own family in weeks. The lawn needs mowing. Your wife keeps haranguing you about taking out the garbage. Everything in your life has taken second place to your tricked-out station wagon with the tailgate fridge.
Your family might think you’re a moron, but there’s nothing like an Automobile- Sized Refrigerator hard-wired to the battery of your car and loaded with ice-cold Schlitz to impress your fishing buddies when you head to the lake this weekend! But consider this scenario: en route you pull into a turnout at river’s edge to enjoy a lunch of refrigerated cold cuts, meatloaf sandwiches and a few brewskis. You shoot the shit. The time flies. Twilight hits. It’s time to pack it in and get back on the road if you want to make your campsite before sundown. But the car won’t start. You notice a couple of shadowy figures lurking in the pines just uphill. They see you. They’re carrying shotguns. You pray they take kindly to flatlanders. Fearing a misstep you accept their invitation to a possum supper just to prove that you and your friends aren’t snobs, but pay for it later in the way of food borne pathogens rendering your intestines into a liquefied, tape-worm-riddled wreck, and all because you never bothered to read the essential last sentence of this How-To: “It is not advisable to run the refrigerator very long with the car motor shut off or it will drain the battery.” Try and explain that to a wife who already thought you were a douche bag for wasting all your time on that project to begin with.
Any similarities to actual events and characters to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental, but this worst-case-scenario illustrates an important point: what good is an automobile refrigerator that only works when the car is running? Are you dismembering teenage hitchhikers and storing them in your trunk at 38° until you can get home to cook them? If you’re a finicky cannibal who insists on freshness, this boondoggle of a project might serve some sick purpose. Or maybe you’re one of those maniacs who refuses to make stops on long car trips—the sort of parent who puts grown children in diapers to make better time—in which case a traveling icebox would eliminate the need to stop for meals and may cut as much as two hours from a full day’s drive for a motoring sadist. Perhaps you just want to keep a weekend’s worth of perishable groceries cold until you reach your vacation cottage. If so, you’d better travel light because this auto-fridge hogs every square inch of trunk space, leaving no room for beach umbrellas, boogie boards, or luggage. But be sure to make some space for jumper cables.