The Borification* of Cars


Lately I have been traveling a lot for work and I find myself in a rental car about twice a month, driving up and down interstates.  Renting cars gives me the opportunity to sample the universe of car options.  During long drives I also have plenty of time to look other at cars on the road too.

I have come to one mind-numbing conclusions—cars are really boring.  It has been this way for a while but it really hit home with me when I realized that if you removed the grill and the lights from any of today’s sedans, leaving only the body, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between any of them.  Is it any wonder that Americans are losing their love of driving?  Half of the fun was touring around in a really cool car.

Long gone are the days of fun cars that make you stop and say, I want one.  Think about it.  When was the last time you stopped in the street just to watch a car drive by.  The last time I was wowed was when Volkswagon brought back the Beetle in a new form, color and shape.  It was fun, it was candy.  That was a very long time ago.

Cars have become so boring that any car with something a little different will turn heads.  There is not anything all that interesting about a Mini-Cooper, except that it is small and cute.  But it stands out enough to be noticed because it isn’t a safe, gas-saving sedan with four doors in the broad selections of colors–silver, black or white.

How sad is that? They even made colors boring.  When I was in high school I had the most beautiful royal blue Oldsmobile with white leather seats, a hand me down from my dad.  Back then you could get a car in fire engine red, bright yellow, burnt orange, light aqua, and even purple.  Every car had a personality with its own lines and style.  You were not going to mistake a Mustang for a Charger.  No way.  From masculine muscle cars to feminine convertibles, from station wagons to town cars, from four door sedans to two-door coupes.  Each one had its own elan and the car you drove spoke volumes about your personality.

Todays cars tell us how much you care about reliability and gas mileage.  Some car companies try to sell a car as a fun ride but seriously, we know that the days of driving with a rocket under the hood are pretty much over for the average American.

Then there is the disappearance of the muscle car.  Muscle cars had a useless macho appeal—they were meant to show how fast a guy could go and they were girl magnets.  Now men prefer the pick up truck that is Ram tough rather than a low slung car that purrs or roars depending on the car.  The siren call for trucks eludes me.  Pick up trucks are utilitarian vehicles.  The sales pitch appeals to a man’s need for a big vehicle so he can do all the down and dirty things he does like towing and hauling and off-road wheeling.  Seriously, how many guys do you know fit that description?  Maybe it’s my zip code but I see a lot of pickup trucks that don’t do anything more than haul some tools and maybe move lawn mowers.

More importantly, how does a truck get the girl?   You never see a guy in a truck commercial trying to appeal to a woman so I guess that is not the goal.  Do women now prefer men with pick ups? Man, maybe it really is my zip code because that possibility makes no sense to me.  A woman being wowed by a pick up?  I’m lost.  And bored.



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