BEST CAR WASH (1999)
The last time we sent a vehicle through Central Car Wash's sudsy vault, an old woman approached us at the observation windows and chirped, "It's fun to watch, isn't it? I've been coming here for 30 years!" And it is oddly fascinating to observe the high-pressure hose boiling away road dirt and salt, the innumerable octopus tentacles slapping and caressing from above, the air blast peeling water off in compressed waves. A person actually misses significant details at those stay-in-the-car-and-feel-suffocated washes. But the best reason to get one's butt off the seat here is to let the snappy Central crew slide theirs in--to vacuum the carpet, empty ashtrays, take out the trash, clean the inside windows, and wipe the dashboard and doorjambs. Then they swab off the exterior. All this personal care for $8.49. A Northeast tradition since 1959, Central will add waxes, a tire protectant, or an underbody flush and rust inhibitor for a few extra bucks.