Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Concept Car – Can it do laundry?

Four cylinder, six cylinder, 540 horse power, 5 series, GPS systems… it’s all lost on me. When I walk by a Rolls Royce or an Aston Martin, I know they are nice cars. If I see a Maybach on the road or a Maserati, I know they are worth more than some people’s homes. Guys who try to impress me with their cars are wasting their efforts. Luckily, I live in a place where the only car I am likely to be seen in is a yellow cab driven by some crazy driver who has a license to get me where I want to go as fast as possible. I am not car illiterate. I have had a license for twelve years, and I have tickets enough to prove it, which is why I am glad I live where I do. I can’t get speeding tickets here. I learned how to drive a stick shift, check the air in my tires, change my oil, change a tire. I know that power everything is good, and I know all about efficient gas mileage, but beyond that it’s all just bells and whistles.

I went to the International Car Show on Saturday with some friends and it was an experience that left me feeling the same way I do when I come home from a day of shopping – exhausted. Mike and I got separated from my roommate Mala and her brother almost immediately, which was probably ok since Mike and I are not really car people. Mala and her brother know everything about cars because they grew up learning about cars from their dad. Mike and I could appreciate a nice car and we saw several. But really, I was just wandering around looking at a bunch of nice cars of various colors and sizes. It was like walking through a candy factory looking at giant samples of new colorful candy. I recognize the names of the cars, but I don’t know anything about them. What makes one care worth $300K and another worth only $35K? No idea. We walked by the Dodge display and there was a woman talking about the features of the new Charger. She mentioned that it goes from 0 to 60 in about 4.2 seconds or something. Yeah, that’s impressive, but when am I ever really going to need to go from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds unless I suddenly find myself in a James Bond movie making the classic getaway from a parking garage all around the city, where there are uncannily no cars on the streets?

How much do they pay these ladies who are scantily clad and wearing too much make-up and have probably never changed their own oil or even opened the hood of a car to sit on these nice cars and spout off stats and lists of unique features? I guess people wouldn’t want to look at a woman wearing coveralls smeared with grease with her hair in a messy ponytail and oil under her fingernails. The displays that had people talking about the cars definitely drew a larger crowd than the ones without. What man doesn’t want to look at a pretty woman sitting on a shiny, expensive car? If it was an attractive guy sitting on the car, would I be more interested? Doubtful.

Here’s what I want to know… can it do my laundry? Is there a magic salad bar in the front console that automatically replenishes itself daily with new vegetables? Does it get 500 miles to the gallon? Is it chip and dent proof? If not, forget about it. GPS system, nice. So it will tell me where I need to go. What if I don’t know where I want to go… what then? Will it give me suggestions? Does it make decisions for me? I later learned about horsepower and how there are some Mercedes models that have 500+ horsepower. Is that necessary? It’s a classy car not an all terrain vehicle. It’s meant to look pretty on the road, not haul down the freeway at 5000 miles per hour.

And what’s all the hype about the Hummer? I sat inside. It’s nice. But so what? They are all the same to me… Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Hummer… just super expensive hunks of metal that suck up my gas before I get to the end of the street. Of all bells and whistles and attractive features on all these cars, I found the BMW 5 series automatic trunk the most entertaining. You barely touch the handle and it comes up all by itself. Too tired to push the trunk closed? No worries. Just push the button and it shuts automatically for you. A lazy man’s dream.

Someday I will have to buy a car again. I won’t be going for the Porsche, the BMW or the Mercedes. I will never own a Maserati or Maybach although in my dreams I drive a cranberry colored Audi A6. The kind of car someone drives is not impressive to me. A job, a good education, well-traveled, accomplished and interesting… that’s impressive. I have known way too many people who have nice cars but have nothing but debt to go with it. I could go to Greece 110 times for the price of the Porsche Cayenne. I think I would rather go to Greece.

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