Friday, October 22, 2004

Vroom, Vroom...Eat My Mulch

The Fly Under the Bridge Academy prefers maintaining a stable of landscape experts on its campus, but to each his own:

PART of the fun of living in suburbia is one-upping the neighbors - not just keeping up with the Joneses, but showing them who's boss, too. That mind-set has been a boon to the Magic Circle Corporation and its top-of-the-line lawnmower: the Dixie Chopper Xtreme Mowchine XT3200-72.

"Do you want bragging rights?" asks the sales brochure for the machine, a $10,200 behemoth that can clip an entire football field in a little more than nine minutes. "This mower," it continues, "will make you the envy of your competition."

By "competition," the company means the people on the other side of the hedgerow.

Magic Circle, privately held and based in Coatesville, Ind., has long prided itself on designing the speediest mowers money can buy. The company's founder, Art Evans, was a semiprofessional drag racer before settling into the lawn care business.

.... The mower has a 32-horsepower engine, and its top speed is just 15 miles per hour.

But compared with other high-end competitors, the Xtreme Mowchine is a beast. For example, the John Deere X595 Special Edition, which costs $14,149, is outfitted with a 24-horsepower engine and tops out at 8.5 m.p.h. Little wonder that mowers featuring Dixie Chopper engines are popular on the lawn-mower racing circuit, which culminates on Nov. 6 with the Sta-Bil North Carolina Turf Classic in Shelby, N.C.

....Fortunately for Magic Circle, the human ego doesn't always mature in sync with the body. As long as there are neighbors to trump, there will be customers willing to spend 10 grand for bragging rights.

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