Posts tagged cars

Couch driving

Machines age and cars do annoyingly so, to the point you realize calling for taxis would be cheaper than the petrol and mechanic bills, which is why that after a year of indecision I finally got myself a new car. While I’m glad to be finally getting rid of the 1995 Fiat Punto I had been driving for the last eleven years as it had become a vehicle of anxiety, I’m pretty wary of my new ride’s confort. The first time I drove my new car I felt as driving a pillow, not an Asian hatchback.

The Fiat Punto’s fuckedupness equated with a ‘raw’ driving experience, but I don’t mean this in the same way those Top Gear guys might. In retrospect, it makes me think that the soft suspension and good sound insulation of a new car make it a better ‘urban capsule’, as a friend of mine used to point out, than the rawness of a hardened suspension and squeaky noises. No wonder: new cars radiate their owners with smugness. It’s hard not to be a dick while driving a confortable couch. But still, being inside a protective cocoon that is somewhat distant from the streets underneath is a feeling that degrade as the car ages: it starts feeling less and less protective and more and more of a cart in direct contact with the asphalt. Like a very nice t-shirt that inevitably fades, an unconfortable car begets status anxiety, that might well trump the mechanical-failure anxiety.

I’m grateful for all the wisdom driving the Fiat gave me. Owning an old car was like having X-ray vision for superficiality. Here’s hoping I don’t lose it. And that the new car lasts as many years as the Punto in good working order.

I can’t explain my fascination over this image. But it stays with me. (via Pedro Quintas)

An interesting post about the Bullitt car chase sequence. It’s incredible that forty-two years later it still is considered the greatest chase ever put to film, and in fact I’m hard pressed to think of car chases as great as the one on Pater Yates’ film. I can only remember William Friedkin’s The French Connection or John Frankenheimer’s Ronin — that generation of directors must have had a special knack for staging chases. (via the very interesting Selvedge Yard)

Over at Boing Boing there’s an interesting post about how most people prefer cars with ‘angry faces’. This is, in fact, something that has bothered me for a while. Even though some people, such as your humble narrator, just drive some car (meaning: it was given to me so I hadn’t much of a choice), I think more often than not a car’s design offers a pretty good image of the person driving it. There is, for instance, a pretty interesting essay by Nick Perry on his book Hyperreality and Global Culture on why the BMW 635CSi is evil.

From an European standpoint, Audi and Seat are the main offenders in exploiting the ‘evil look’, and I’d say three-quarters of the time some bastard is pushing close behind me in the motorway, he’s driving one of those. Those cars may have the airbags and the intelligent braking systems, but are actually designed for unsafe driving. Remember the Honda CRX? One really good machine — shame that the place to see one is the junkyard, and it’ll be severely beaten.

Of course, there are also the ‘sensible’ Toyotas and whatnot whose drivers will cut you off only to drive very slowly — the single road event that makes me step out of the car in the next light and beat the guy who did it with a large stick — so unsafe driving is obviously not something only people with angry-eyed cars do. But as they probably say, the headlights offer a look inside the driver’s soul…