Thursday, 25 June 2009

I'm In Love With My Car

Why do many men fall in love with their cars?

And if you don’t think that they do, think again. A large number of men are obsessed with their cars and treat them better than they treat their women.

I hasten to add that I am not in this category. I drive, what my mates describe, as a shed on wheels. It is a thirteen year old banger, although the manufacturers prefer to call it a “Ford Escort”. Boy racers and car-obsessed guys pour scorn on my old car, and openly mock me for continuing to use what they also describe as a “heap”.

I’ve owned my car now for about nine years. One of the reasons that I have kept it, instead of succumbing to pressure from car-loving mates to replace it, is that my car is totally and utterly reliable. In the time I have owned it, my car has only let me down once; I broke down on the M62 crawling up a hill in a traffic jam and the car overheated because a fan had failed. The breakdown guy who rescued me managed to get it going within two minutes and I managed to get home without further problems.

Sure, it’s got a few dents, a couple of rusty spots and it has definitely seen better days, but it still goes. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the point of having a car? Aren’t cars simply meant to be devices that simply take us from A to B?

One thing’s for sure; I am definitely not in love with it. I would be a little miffed if something happened to it, but not for any reason other than the inconvenience it would cause.

There are men I know who have spent hundreds of pounds on their cars; their obsession is laughable. All of their spare time is spent polishing the thing and when you are a passenger in it, you have to watch where you put your feet.

These guys drive around for fun; I HATE driving – the only reason I do it is because it gets me to my destination quicker. I have absolutely no desire to drive around for the hell of it. We’re talking about guys who would marry their cars if it were legal to do so.

One mate of mine was so in love with his car that he barely drove the thing; it sat in his garage and he polished it religiously and rarely went out in it. His wife had an old banger and he used that instead Then came the fateful day when his wife announced that she was pregnant. He was faced with a stark choice. Well, to his wife it was a no-brainer but to him it was a huge problem. Could he afford to keep a high performance beauty of a car that he rarely drove AND have the ability to support his wife and forthcoming child? In the end, common sense prevailed and he sold it. There were tears in his eyes as he handed over the keys. He also handed over a handwritten book about how to look after the car, covering details of which polish to use, how often to service it, etc. and what to call it when he drove it.

And his final word was “If you crash it, I’ll bloody kill you.”

He didn’t say that really but I know that he was thinking it.

You only have to watch TV shows like Top Gear to get a feel for man’s obsession with his four-wheeled friends. The three presenters spend the entire show drooling over the latest high performance motors, blinding us with statistics about how fast the things go:

0 to 60 in 2 seconds – now THERE’S a car

I love the show because it is hilarious but the obsession with cars is there for even the most stupid among us to see.

I must admit that some of the cars featured on the show are quite exquisite to look at but how the hell could the vast majority of people in Britain (or indeed anywhere) afford such a beast? Most of the cars featured on the show cost more than my house. If I were to drive a top of the range Ferrari around Manchester, I would be travelling at 5 mph for fear of damaging it. And woe betide the person who crashed into me.

Why do people spend so much on cars? I don’t understand it. My old banger costs quite a lot to keep it on the road and, although the repair, service and MOT bills are modest, they are still expensive. To service a top of the range car (even a modest saloon) it would cost a fortune. To me that would be a disaster – it would be like throwing my wallet over the cliff – utterly pointless and very expensive.

And have you ever been to a motor show?

A car-loving mate once persuaded me to go down to Birmingham to see a show covering mainly motor sport. He and just about every other male there were drooling over the sports cars, formula one cars, rally cars etc. – I was drooling over the busty models who were sitting on the bonnets of these cars (and I think I was in a minority). Honestly, the place was awash with dribble from car-obsessed men. There were stalls with wheels, bits of engines and all sorts of other anatomical bits and pieces for high performance cars and I have never seen so many men in lust with them. It was absurd and ridiculous. I was bored out of my brain after an hour or so.

My mate spotted a Finnish rally driver and bought a video covering a two year old rally season just so that he could get the guys autograph; I’d never heard of the man, even though I exchanged a few words with him. I can’t even remember his name and I wouldn’t know him again even if I tripped over his outstretched boot.

If only I had been single, good-looking and charming, I could have tried to pull one of the busty models – but sadly that was also a non-starter.

All the way back, my mate enthused over the show and I nodded but lost interest. I haven’t been back to another show.

There is a song by Queen called “I’m In Love With My Car” and I reckon that it could have been written by any one of my mates who are obsessed with their cars. The lyrics are very funny to somebody like me, who regards them as functional devices – here are a few excerpts:

When I’m holdin your wheel
All I hear is your gear
When my hands on your grease gun
Oh its like a disease son

I'm in love with my car
Gotta feel for my automobile
Get a grip on my boy racer rollbar
Such a thrill when your radials squeal

Told my girl I’ll have to forget her

Rather buy me a new carburettor

Here’s the song in full:

I personally think that Roger Taylor’s lyrics probably don’t go far enough for men who love their cars; perhaps they would if the song were called “I’m OBSESSED with my car”, with new lyrics:

When I’m rubbing your wheel
All I feel is your gear
When I’m stroking your bodywork
Oh your touch drives me beserk

I’m obsessed with my car
Want to marry my automobile

Anyway, my old banger does me proud but it will be a sad day when it finally dies and goes to that great garage in the sky.


Because I’ll have to bloody well fork out for a new one, that’s why.


earthtoholly said...

Hi PM,

I think I can speak for W when I say that we both feel as you do. We've an old Toyota 4-Runner (from the 90's) with a little over 200,000 miles that has never let us down (knockin' on my wooden head, here). Just a few years ago it took us from the east coast to the west coast and back and has served as a den-on-wheels for both Emma and Lucy. A lot of history's part of the family.

Why give up a fit body for a pretty face, right?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Holly,

Exactly my point. And nicely put too.




bingkee said...

My brothers are so in love with their cars too. One brother of mine had driven his car for 14 years --a Mitsubish Lancer SL box type 1981 model, before he bought a new one. My husband is not in love with cars but he loves driving around. He actually drives a manual.
Me, I don't like driving, but living in the suburbs, I've got no choice but to drive.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

Most people in the UK drive a manual car - automatic's are rare. I think its great driving automatics. In the US it makes life easier because I have to drive on the wrong side of the road. Unfortunately in Europe they drive manuals but they too drive on the wrong side of the road so life becomes very difficult.

Let's hope I get an automatic when I go to Boston later this year.