The only American car I have ever owned was a hand-me-down from my mother in 1988. A brown Chrystler Laser. It was sort of fast. Handled OK. Had a plain interior. A plain exterior. Got average gas milage. To me, that sums up American cars. Plain and average.
Cars represent a lot in American history and culture. So many of our rights of passage revolve around driving; getting our license, our first car, road trips, our first boy(girl)friend with a car, other stuff people do in cars. And while dogs may look like their owners, cars are a physical manifestation of their owners’ personalities.
That’s why the US auto industry is doing so badly. Why the US auto makers are doing worse than those from other countries. Our cars have no personalities. Except for the ones that try too hard and have too much personality. The ones that look like stereotypical Americans on vacation.
Let’s test this theory and examine what different brands of cars say about their drivers.
Toyota or Honda mini-van
We’re practical. We needed more room and don’t give a shit about what we drive. We intend for there to be food stuck in the seats and carpet and expect that we will dump it as soon as the kids are a bit older. It’s a fucking mini-van for christ sake.
I have a large disposable income, see? I can afford to own not a car, but a driving machine and I am at least slightly cooler than you as a result.
I am practical and frugal, but I still want to drive a German car.
I have some money and want a comfortable, although not very stylish or showy, safe vehicle which I plan to drive for the next 15 years.
I have a 4WD and I’m not afraid to use it, with stuff in the back, cuz I have room back there. And maybe on the roof too.
I care about the environment. And I thought I was doing a good thing for the environment when I bought this ugly thing, but then the news about the batteries came out and now I’m just driving this ugly thing because I am still paying it off. Also, I have hit 2 people in parking lots because they didn’t hear me pull out.
I live on a ranch.
I want you to think I live on a ranch.
I haul shit.
I have never put anything in the back nor have I driven on so much as a gravel road, but I am a big strong man. You can tell by the size of my truck. Also, I could haul shit.
I rented this once and forgot to give it back.
Dodge PT Cruiser
(I don’t get this car at all. I got nothing.)
Fuck you. Fuck the environment. Fuck other people on the road. And fuck you. Did I say fuck you?
I love cars.
I am a serial killer.
Compare American to European cars. We suck. Japanese cars aren’t much better, but they say what little they have to say with a nicer interior. I won’t drive an American car. It has nothing to do with the economy, it has to do with personal style. It has to do with what stepping out of Suburban says about me. I am not that person. I think we look for cars that express who we are. If American’s are the cars that are made here, and I fear that we may be, we are big, bloated, self-centered, styleless, disposable, and interchangeable. Don’t bail them out, hire them some European designers.
OK. I lied. I owned one other American car. I had an AMC Pacer. It was a custom conversion that my dad gave me. Not only did it have a custom paint job, it had a beanbag for a passenger seat (somehow that was legal, we could pile 6 people in there). AND, and I am dead serious, it was a pick-up truck. A Pacer, an automobile inspired by the ladybug, that was converted into an utterly useless pick-up truck with a beanbag seat. WTF does THAT say about me?
PS – Some of my best friends drive American cars.
PPS – I drive a 1994 Saab 900 convertible. It speaks volumes about me.