Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Question of Style…

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Men in flip flops and three quarter length shorts are just wrong.

I cannot believe these people wake up in the morning, pull on a pair of these ridiculous trousers, slide into a pair of between toed, rubber soled pool shoes and think “Damn I look good..” because they just look plain stupid. I on the other hand look great as I slide on my knackered Dunlop Green Flash tennis pumps and ‘weekend jeans’ (aka full of holes) But it seems I am in a minority as I see hundreds of men, shoulders back and chests out, strutting about with a quarter of hairy leg being shown and yellowing nailed feet proudly shod in split toed glory without a care in the world. While its a pleasant discovery to see someone stride by in a pair of Dunlops.

Style means different things to different people, sure we all need to wear shoes (well, some women with short hair and beards who drink warm vegetable juice and breastfeed sheep don’t) but its nice to have shoes that make us feel good as well as keeping out the rain. Same with cars, there are some cars out there that I wouldn’t be seen dead in.allegro-f3q-white-f Mark 5 Escort, anything with seven seats, anything that even resembles a Land Rover, anything with a Rover badge etc etc, but they will all drive along, keep me dry and (unless its a Rover) get me to my destination. These cars leave me stone cold, yes I would get there but I would have to drive with a bag over my head, and the list is not complete there are hundreds of cars out there that I think have been designed by a mad, blind chimpanzee, honestly you would have been better giving a few crayons to class 2B of St Mary’s Primary, to design the look of some of these cars rather than massively overpaid designers with mechanical pencils, at least you would get a few machine guns on the bumper.

But I am in a minority again, the design teams of these companies really do know a thing or two because these cars sell (except the Rovers) People are buying them in droves, the roads are filled with Chevrolets and family orientated Vauxhalls, all in various shades of brown, but I wonder if they are buying it on looks, I bet that looks and styling are the last thing on their minds because they are British and British people have no passion for cars whatsoever.
Need proof? well look at the facts, Ford, Vauxhall, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Audi, VW, Citroen, Peugeot. Notice a connection? yup all of these are top selling car brands in the UK, and not one of them is British (nope, Ford isnt, nor is Vauxhall. Both are American) and all of them are dull, with the very odd exception in the range, the cars are so boring that you need to be prodded with a stick whilst driving them, where as cars from our heritage,  Lotus, Mclaren, AC, Caterham, TVR, Healy, MG, All British, all hairy arsed, grin making, fuel drinking fun machines that break down, kill the environment and upset the odd sheep, either don’t exist or have been sold to Johnnie Foreigner, or only manage to shift 3 cars every decade to some rich bloke to do track days with. I have said before that its the fault of the Company Car, that beige fourwheel box that sits in the driveway waiting to be used like a screwdriver, a means to an end.
But I think its worse than that. Somewhere, somehow the British have had all  the petrol syphoned from their blood. Show your new car to anyone and the first thing they will say is ‘Whats its MPG?’ or ‘Bet thats a lot to insure’ Wind the clock back, and it will be ‘How fast does it go?’ or ‘Bet it wont beat mine from the Cafe to the bottom of the hill’ But that sort of thinking nowadays is seemed to be not ‘PC’ not ‘Green’ (bloody hell I hate environmentalists) and too hooligan.
Thank god then for the Italians, they dont give a stuff about practicality, as long as it looks good and you look good in it then they have done their job. Which is why when anything that comes from Alfa Romeo rolls by it stands out and you can’t help but look, but be warned! the new 8c Spider is so beautiful, it makes your eyes bleed.

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Driven to Distraction…

crashtestdummy

How many times have you driven along and thought to yourself  ‘I don’t remember getting here!’ because you were miles away, thinking of something else?

Distractions while driving are so common its laughable, you may even be reading this on a mobile phone right now waiting in a traffic jam, maybe I’ll hang on and write some boring stuff so you give up and concentrate on the road. If you get caught drink driving, driving under the influence of drugs or using a mobile then you are in serious risk of not only killing yourself, your passengers and anyone you hit, but more importantly you could damage your car and loose your license! But there are so many more distractions that are not directly punishable, but are equally as dangerous if not more.

Sausage rolls, Cornish Pasties, Cheese and Ham Slices, all have been designed with the motorist in mind. All conceal a delicious filling in a crumbly pastry that no matter what you do, bits will fall down the crack between the seat and center console, and you will look and tut, taking your eye off the road for a second. That’s even if you have it out of the packet, because if not, and you are already driving away from the garage, probably steering with your knees and the car is in first gear doing 10,000rpm while you attempt to open it. How about fast food?  Who hasn’t eaten a tasty box of Mc Donalds finest fries, the cheery red box wedged between your legs, your wedding vegetables protected only by a thin bit of printed card from the potato sticks at 500 degrees?

We have all seen a few lady drivers (and a few men!) using the mirror to check the makeup or hair, none of us are innocent, I bet there has been a time where you have driven with a headache, busting for a pee, in an argument with the passenger/wife, looked at a pretty girl, tried to tune the radio at 40mph, had the glowy bit of the cigarette fall off into your lap which results in some frantic flapping as your genitals catch fire and not noticed the red traffic/brake light/old lady until you are 4 inches from it, slammed on the brakes and by some miracle missed hitting the car/person/wall.

But the worse, the very very worse has to be children in the car. Little junior is trying to bite the head off his little sisters dolly and little sister is screaming at the top of her sweet little lungs, soccer mum turns around to yell back and dish out a good old fasioned  box to the ears and bang! her Range Rover has just squashed another victim.

We can’t stop people having children (secretly I wish some people were not permitted to breed, but that also falls under my ‘When I become King’ rules) So I put the blame for this firmly at the feet of Volvo and Mercedes.

Safety in cars is a bad thing. If you have a monumental crash in a car made back in the days when football players were all called ‘Nobby’ and everything cost tuppence ha’penny, you died. Painfully. Pointy bits of car would stick in you, hard bits would squash you, and hot bits would burn you. If you were lucky you ended up playing a harp, if unlucky you would leak a bit first, so you tended to pay a lot of attention to what you were doing. In these days of side impact bars, three point seat belts, anti-lock, carbon brakes, crumple zones and the like, its made us complacent. The Mercedes E class has a bonnet with shock absorbers, that make it pop up if the car thinks its about to run some one over, its a bit like driving around with a trampoline strapped to the front of the car. All very clever stuff, but the bloke behind the wheel now believes that he can snow plough his way through bus queues awarding points to the old ladies that perform triple somersaults with a tuck as they boing off his pedestrian safety device.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not for one second saying safety in cars is a bad thing, but its the false sense of security it gives you,as you drive your Volvo that has so many airbags, that in an impact the kids can be amused using it as a bouncy castle while waiting for the tow truck to arrive. These devices are very clever, there are cars that can detect if you wander over the white line, a sure sign that you are getting drowsy, there is even a car that can sense that its just about to have a crash and applies its brakes. All this stuff is brilliant and forward thinking, but the weak link as always is the driver. If we could instill a tiny bit of fear, say a mild electric shock rather than the gentle vibration his seat gives him when he wanders over the line, or maybe a spike, about chest height reminding him to stop relying on the fact that he will walk away after doing something stupid, because he is in the Volvo and the other poor sod isn’t.

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Car Prejudice, its just not right.

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What comes to mind when you think of a Vauxhall Corsa?

Or how about a Citroen Saxo? For my more mature readers, a Ford Escort or Fiesta? For my REALLY old readers a Ford Capri or Cortina E? These cars are linked together by one thing. Prejudice. They are linked to spotty teenagers who get moist at the thought of big exhausts, loud stereos and cardboard rollcages. They are driven badly, with no concern or thought for others, often covered in garish paint jobs and comedy bodykits. Later on, when spotty teen can manage to stay in a job for more than five minutes he might graduate to a Subaru, Evo or BMW transplanting the huge 1,000,000 watt stereo and any bits of the comedy bodykit that will fit on it, but still drive like a moron, not looking where he is going just watching to see if he is being noticed.

If our friend cannot afford to upgrade his ratty old Fiesta, he has an option of a small crimewave to fund it,sell some grass clippings to a few 15 year olds or maybe stick up the local post office with a BB gun and see if the old dear behind the counter will come over with the goods. Unfortunately for our hapless hero, the post office has brilliant security and the local Rozzers arrive in under a minute and our man is now face down in the back of a van in handcuffs crying for his mummy, peeing his pants. Some time later he is sent down, and his assets seized.

OK so you are wondering where this is going right? Well the first thing that strikes me is that all of the above cars, through no fault of there own are prejudiced against because of the type of people that drive them. Its not the cars fault. It has nothing to do with what sort of car they are, how they handle or how much power they have, its all to do with the fact they are cheap and readily available. Normal people will steer clear because even if you mention to your friends that you are going to look at a Saxo or 106, your friend will smile and nod but will think all sorts of nasty things. Or if he is blunt and to the point, will laugh loudly and call you names. Its hard to find a car from this genre that has not been driven round Halfords a few times, then had its engine thrashed to oblivion with only Tesco 20W/50 multigrade tractor oil for protection. But if you do find one you will be so pleasantly surprised. Saxos are fun, Corsas are fun and with a tweek or two suspension wise you can have big grins for absolute peanuts. I spent a fantastic weekend recently in the company of a lot of Evo owners who knew their cars inside and out, loved them and drove them to the limit, just how nature intended. There wasn’t a part on the cars that were not there for a reason, and not a chavvy between them, just good, dedicated drivers that loved driving. So look past the predudice, and look at the cars not the moron behind the wheel.

The second point stems from something I watched on TV last night. Top Gear destroyed a perfectly good Evo because it was an asset of a drug dealer and the Judge ruled that it was to be destroyed. James May, one of the presenters, made a very valid point that was ignored by most. He said that he felt a bit rotten, and it wasn’t the cars fault that its owner was a drug dealing scumbag, so why take it out on the car? Well I can see the point that the car is a direct result of the dirty money made on the misery of others (but if I’m honest I have no time for drug users either, they deserve all they get) and should be taken away from the criminal, but to destroy something like that is just stupid. Sell it, get it re registered and let it bring a smile to someone who appreciates it for what it is rather than what it represents.

Hmm… quite a serious and grown up blog this time, I need to rectify that! Anyone selling a Corsa or Saxo?

Saxo1999

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