General views

Driving a statement

It’s all very well having nice pictures of the highlands on my blog but I’m more about words than images. I am in the mood to make some wild generalisations about one of the things I know most about and what I like to spend my spare time and day job doing. Moving about in a motor vehicle. I feel inclined to revisit one of my very first ever blog posts and the point it made, but in a different way.

It came to me out of the blue as I was merging with a motorway today and the actions of another individual got me thinking about other people and their motor cars, or more specifically about what the one you choose says about you, to other people.

The motorway was mildly busy and I’m very good at motorway merging from a slip road. What you do is get up to motorway speed as quickly as possible and when you get among the traffic you are doing the same speed or more than most of them and you just glide in among the commuters with a minimum of bother.

What you do not do is creep down the slip road, stop when you get to the motorway and then wait for someone in the outside lane to notice you and move over. If you do that you will cause an accident as the other people trying to drive properly will crash into you because few regular road users expect anyone to be so stupid as to wait by the outside lane of a motorway, stationery, for an opportunity to join traffic passing at 70 miles per hour.

That aside, I don’t do that, I merge at speed and join right in. I encountered a gap in the traffic at my slip road today on the A3 suitable to drive a large lorry into rather than even my powerful car, so no problem at all, except for the BMW driver who was some distance down the road behind the gap I was going to fill. He was doing the same speed as everyone else. Upon seeing me wanting to use some road space he would be occupying sometime in the near future, he accelerated and started flashing his lights, I assume to dissuade me from driving in front of him, even though this would have had zero impact on his own journey. He then climbed all over my rear bumper pulling faces and gesticulating wildly, even though there was a steady stream of traffic in both lanes and nowhere further forward for him to be apart from one car length, mine.

The thing though is that this is not uncommon behaviour from the drivers of BMW’s. They have purchased ‘the ultimate driving machine’ you see, I believe that was a BMW slogan. They buy the BMW because it is a well-made and generally very good car for the driving purist, which is what they see themselves as. However, this seems to come at the expense of manners, courtesy for other road users and use of the indicator switch. I’d love to have a read of the BMW user manual. I assume on page one it says something like ‘Welcome to your new BMW, you are clearly a man of discernment and almost everyone else is a lesser being than yourself as they do not have a BMW. People will no longer like you very much anyway as you drive a BMW so you may as well drive as though you own the road, now go out and enjoy yourself at the expense of less worthy road users’.  BMW drivers do not give way, they take it, chances are their car is faster than yours and they very much like to show you, in inches, from your bumper.

So the BMW I believe is bought by people who are interested mostly in themselves as if they were interested in what other people thought about them, they would probably buy something else as most people I know who don’t have a BMW, share a similar opinion of people who do.  If you are a BMW fan, you can tell me about how well equipped and well-made or powerful and clever your BMW is to your heart’s content but you know exactly what I mean and you bought one anyway.

Moving on to Mercedes Benz

The Mercedes Benz driver is a little more sophisticated than the BMW driver, the car is a cut above in style elegance and reputation. The Mercedes Benz driver is also not really one for giving way too much but it’s more because they assume they have the right of way than aggressively shouldering other road users aside as they pass by. The Mercedes somehow subtly just wins by default.  They have some loud sporty models but the Mercedes Benz is so much more about making a statement in refinement rather than a statement of sticking two fingers up to all other road users. You know who I mean.

There are other German cars; all are very good, except the Volkswagen Beetle which isn’t. A German car in general that isn’t a BMW says you like to play it safe in style, unless you can afford the really fast ones, in which case you just like to make lots of noise and show off.  I’m going to finish this post on the Porsche as it’s a special case.

If you want a nice German car for normal persons money now though, you can buy a Skoda, (yes I know it’s not German) which is an Audi, or a Volkswagen of your choice, with Skoda written on it, for less, but just as good. Some people think a Skoda is a poor quality car from Eastern Europe, when in fact it is an excellent car of the same quality as Audi or Volkswagen, its single flaw is an aged perception from another time. Skoda drivers all look a bit smug, and so they should as they know something you don’t

Some people like to buy French cars. I reckon about 90% of them are French. Historically the French 3 big car makers had two quite distinct styles. The Citroen which was strange or even weird and chosen by creative or artistic people who didn’t mind if their car wasn’t actually any good as well as being odd. The other two made cars that also weren’t all that good but seemed to go on and on. I believe every stable hand and farm labourer in Britain is offered a 2nd hand Peugeot 306 with the job, only a few seem to turn it down. The Peugeot 306 is the ubiquitous car of the poorly paid countryside community, certainly round here it is.

French people like French cars though and I’m pretty sure the only advertising slogan required by French car makers over the years in France would be something like ‘Our car is still French, other cars are not’. French cars say you just bought a car that wasn’t something else because you fancied a bit of a change. Few people, who aren’t French, buy a French car twice.

Some people think it’s a good idea to buy Korean cars as their advertising slogans will tell you about the very long warranty period. That is not a good enough reason. I think one day when they instead focus on the car being good or interesting rather than just needing a really long life warranty I will consider a Korean car but that will be when I am very old, like all the other buyers of Korean Cars.

Japanese cars are almost all tremendously reliable, almost, which is nice if that is your primary interest. They have a couple of monstrously fast sports cars for the computer games fan who can afford a fast car and prefer gadgets over styling. I understand you have to go on a year-long training course to learn how to use the controls of the Nissan Skyline. People who buy normal Japanese cars like reliability over personality. They want to be anonymous as they move about or drive back to the garage when their formally reliable car has been recalled for catching on fire.

I could talk a bit about British cars but I did a whole other blog post on that. I’ll stick a link at the bottom of here. I don’t think I know or have heard of anyone though that has bought a Vauxhall with their own money.  I literally have no idea whatsoever what sort of person when faced with the myriad excellent car choices would spend their own hard earned cash on a Vauxhall, of any shape or size.

American cars are for Americans, in America. For some reason Americans don’t like cars that can go around corners easily and prefer very poor quality plastic fittings and finishing on the dashboard but I have no idea why, so moving on.

Finally, Sports cars. Italians make pretty ones. Germans make some that are less pretty but very fast and slightly more practical. They also make the Porsche 911. Much teasing is done in the Porsche owing fraternity of those who can’t stretch to a 911 and buy the Boxter instead, as though they, the 911 driver is the aficionado and the Boxter driver is a wannabe. I would though suggest something else. The 911 driver is simply someone who can’t afford a proper sports car, like a Ferrari or Aston Martin or that silly fat, flat ugly Italian sports car with the suede dashboard and vulgar paint job. So they have their 911 which is actually just a sports version of the Volkswagen Beetle.  I’m just making an observation.

Finally you might ask what I would have then. What is my car and what would it say about me? In my ideal world I’d have two, A Jaguar XK8 for the weekend and a Land Rover Freelander 2 for everything else. I don’t care what it would say about me as I would be Happy.

Why British cars are the worlds best.

12 replies »

  1. Do they even have indicators in BMWs? I thought you had to order them as an extra. Kind of like the hands-free kits, because I can’t begin to count the number of people that can afford to buy late-model German General Staff cars that can afford the extra hands-free kit either.

  2. Well that’s got us pinned down nicely….
    When in the U.K. and France we had Audis..first a secondhand estate which finally gave up the ghost after twenty years of overwork and then a little A3 which was a super little car.
    Faced with the tax bill on importing it to Costa Rica we gave it to a young cousin and looked around….finally plumping for the wonderfully named Ssangyong Rexton.
    Parts would be a problem…if it were not for the ingenuity of our Cubanmechanic up the road who can make, alter or replace anything.

  3. As a once daily motorway driver I have made similar observations about the drivers of certain makes of cars and totally agree Sandy. My beef has always been with Saab drivers they are very disconcerting as they seem to have no rules therefore a nightmare to predict what they may do.

  4. I approve of sweeping generalisations because there is always a grain of truth in them. (Irony alert?)

    But there is the exception, a breed of driver who adopts the same approach to car buying as you do to cameras. The second hand one which is the best one available to do the job required at the best price which will be the least expensive to run and still have retained value if someone else tries to total it for you. In other words it’s just a tool, who cares about the badge.

    Now if you start talking about bikes, whole different thing, you can be part of that in a way you never can be in a car, on the road that is.

    Enjoyed the camera work on the Highland post too Sandy.

  5. Thanks Jon! I used to ride a motor bike, a farm bike, I went through about 7 clutches, broken off. I don’t think I’ll buy a new car again. I’ll have a second hand one.

  6. I went into college for lunch today. In the car park was a newish BMW X5, an expensive vehicle and not the sort of showy car that academics usually drive. Then I noticed that its number plate started “X5 …”: I don’t expect academics to lavish cash on vanity plates. What, I wondered, could be the explanation. As I walked towards the dining hall, all became clear: a notice board gave advice to people attending a medical conference.

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