Last week, on our commute to her school, my daughter made a rather dismissive comment about cars. She said "Ian, cars aren't cool anymore". I've heard quite a few kids say that recently, and studies show that more and more kids are opting out of learning to drive, partially due to the financial climate, but also out of dissatisfaction.
And I think it's true that cars aren't cool anymore. There was a time when cars were cool - back in the 1920s, when most of them had an open cockpit, when you started them with a crank and when you needed to wear goggles and a heavy driving coat. But now? She's right - they aren't cool, and I think they're not very 'manly'.
My daughter made me realize that, as far as 'manly' commuting goes, driving a car leaves something to be desired: it's air conditioned, you sit in a comfy chair, you can drive in your shirt even in a blizzard, there's a radio, cupholders, GPS, etc. It's hardly 'Scott of the Antarctic'. The motorist's motto is something akin to "Hope the seat warmer is working" or "Glad I've got my coffee".
Meanwhile, those on bicycles and motorbikes have a different and much more rugged experience: you're out in the elements, you're on a saddle (how manly is that!), no radio, no cupholder (other than a cage with a bottle of near freezing water), no GPS, you must balance and wrestle the bike through rain, wind, snow. Your motto, like that of the Post Office is "Victory or Death". If you cycle more than half a mile you get more excitement than a motorist gets in a week.
Even car ads have a sort of desperation about them - they're all about danger, thrills and driving fast somewhere exotic, but when the ad gets to the interior, it always just looks kinda weak. And the outside... well, they all look the same - and they're almost always offered in shades of grey. And you know that when you actually drive it, it's not going to be an experience of driving like a bat out of hell on the Nurburgring - it's going to be pottering along at 5mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic while cyclists and bikers pass you by. The fact is, the modern car experience is slow, frustrating and BORING!
So, assuming other members buy the premise, what happened to make cars go all wimpy and boring? And when did it happen? Was there some key moment when the car lost its manliness? Why is it that modern cars just don't have that 'manliness quotient' anymore?
In some of the bigger cities it doesn't really make sense with the public transportation available, unless the crime rate on those is high, for young people to have a vehicle. In my town we have no public transportation of any kind so our kids have cars. The funny part is that I'm the only one without a vehicle and I earn the most and work the furthest from home 3 days a week, unless I'm traveling. I'm going to have to fix that soon.
I do worry about the crime, with a nearly 15 year-old boy. Most of the crime in Minneapolis is between people who know each other or teenagers being idiots. You can avoid most of it by not being in the drugs trade, or allowing someone who is out of control with chemical dependency into your home life. The part about teenagers being idiots is what worries me; that can be hard to avoid, if you're a teenager yourself. But the boy has so far shown awfully good sense and you're right and so is he; he's better off without a car for the most part.
You, on the other hand, might need something to get around in. With the kind of miles you put on, you would need to balance efficiency and comfort. I love the miserliness of the tiniest cars, but the comfort isn't there. I've gone the Yaris route because it's reliable and cheap. I like little cars, living where I do, and the new Fiat 500s have some of the goofy styling that appeal to me. The Minis look fun. But for most of my life I've had to buy what I could pay for and that's guided my thinking on cars, for the most part.
I couldn't trust a small car on the highways down here. I travel the I-12 corridor fairly often and into New Orleans as well. I'm not sure where some of these idiots got their licenses from but I'm thinking it wasn't from the DMV.
I won't drive anything smaller than a full-size pickup on Houston freeways. I drive a Suburban at the moment.
If I get in an accident, I'd rather the odds favor me winning it. More than half the cars on the road in Texas are pickups, SUVS or big rigs. I don't want anything low to the ground.
That makes sense. The little cars i like in the city I wouldn't want out in the country where I grew up. If it snows a foot and there's no snowplow coming for a couple of days, you need serious ground clearance. You always need the right tool for the job at hand.
Driven in Houston and I wouldn't drive anything smaller or lighter or less armed than an M-1.
I don't have a problem with my Jetta in the city or long road trips, it is when I leave Houston that I want something bigger(ie out fishing or hunting)
I find it interesting to watch the young men today 'modify' their cars. For the most part they can't change the engine, transmission or much of the drive train at all. So what do we see them do? They tint the windows, change the lights, add LED lights inside and out, put in thumping bass speakers and high end stereos with televsions that pop up. I've also seen cars such as Impalas with 21" rims and low profile tires, it looks like the car got kicked in the balls. But boys, being boys, will always try to trick-out their ride to impress, either their friends or the girls.
Yeah, because their friends & the girls are more interested in beauty--the guys will have to worry about what is good for themselves by themselves...
With so many cars being pretty much a "black box" under the hood, goofy accessories are about all a kid can do to most cars. I can't imagine what the digital fuel-injection analog to a 4-barrel carb would be, nor how to begin installing it. I could probably figure out how to make my car look like a pimp owned it, though. Which would be awfully funny on a Toyota Yaris hatchback.
But I bet a kid with a totally tricked-out GTO would own whatever town he was in.
I can't imagine what the digital fuel-injection analog to a 4-barrel carb would be, nor how to begin installing it.
It looks like an iPad plugged into the engine management system running an optimization app. Unless you're a geek it doesn't have nearly the coolness factor of climbing under the hood with a 9/16" wrench and a stupid little flat head screwdriver you get for free at the auto parts store.
Thanks. That is what it would be, isn't it. Makes perfect sense. And not nearly as cool as a big hunk of milled steel.