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?
Ow that's right, in the USA most cars have an automatic transmission? Here in Europe (Belgium to be precise) it's rather rare to an automatic, but then again having a manual one is only a thrill for the first weeks when learning how to drive in my opninion.
Yes, unfortunately on our shores the manual transmission is going the way of the dodo bird. Since learning how to drive one, I can't imagine buying an automatic. I like the control. My Monte Carlo is an automatic (only way they were made) but I hope to convert it to manual at some point.
Hahaha, let's hope they do that.
Having a manual is a constant thrill if you happen to live in Seattle or San Francisco...
I must agree with it. I ride a motorcycle and I still ride it even when it's freezing or snowing outside. It gives a sense of being alive. Also I've rode a car, but I never liked it. It misses the excitement, the thrill. Cars these days are only for comfort it seems and I only use them for that reason: driving with 3-4 friends 50 miles away, big shopping sprees, hauling,...
I think I'll stay with the motorcycle ;p
I ride a motorcycle as well. I own a few and ride far more than I drive. I enjoy the sense of freedom and the with the elements experience it affords.
I read the first thread on this discussion, and see people being complete idiots.
If you're a man, you don't need a vehicle to make you feel good about yourself.
Car design has become more homogenous, as has much of design. In mainstream design, small details tend to be less popular than overall sleekness as of late. Notable small exceptions would be things like the recent revival of an Arts & Crafts-type movement.
This means that a lot of the cars out there look pretty similar on the outside, and even more so on the inside.
I am a man.
I drive a small car. I also ride a bicycle and own and operate a motorcycle.
The two-wheeled vehicles are great (largely for the reasons you've mentioned), but there are many circumstances where an enclosed vehicle is more practical. For much of the driving I do, a larger vehicle would be inefficient.
I'm no more or less of a man when I'm operating any of these vehicles.
I do not think this discussion is about a vehicle making you more or less of a man. I think it is about the vehicle being manly.
I have owned everything from a Chrysler Dynasty to a 300 ZX to A 3/4 ton Diesel pick up. I was not any more of a man or less of one in any of these three. However I think a loud smelly utilitarian pick up is far more manly than a Chrysler Dynasty. It simply does more than just get me around. I can move my buddies, haul horses, motorcycles, holiday trailers, boats, firewood......... anything you can dream of towing or stuffing in the box. How many times have you asked you buddy with a truck to move something for you or borrowed it or wished you had one to bring back that couch you just bought?
Does the vehicle you drive make you more/less manly.... heck no. The mannor in which you use it and why you have it does.
On the flip side, having a pick up for the simple reason to put big tires under it for attention is not manly.
Why is assumed the vehicle makes the man and not the man making the vehicle?
I don't think we are disagreeing here.
I read the first page of the discussion, and it's an extremely insecure guy claiming that anyone who doesn't drive [what he considers to be] a manly car to be a "chick". Just dropped my two cents in.
Among the many vehicles I've owned and currently own, all of them tended to reflect me in some way...
My 2003 Suzuki SX, nicknamed Godzuki. 244 hp, Suzuki Techno suspension with Bilstein struts. Suzuki Techno wheels, shod with gumball Kumhos. Suzuki Tecno air dam and spoiler. Brembos. 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, 152 mph. A fun little sleeper, capable of leaning all over expensive toys driven by insecure guys with big wallets and frail egos.
These days, now past my 60 year mark, I am content to drive my Jeep on a nearly daily basis. Two or three times a year we load up the Wrangler with our mountain bikes and head for Tucson, and sometimes Taos, for a little adventure. Nothing too serious; my days of rock crawling adventures in our CJ or YJ are behind me. Still, good fun with scenic wonders.
When they had to have more cup holders than cylinders.
I drive a 2500 HD chevy PU.