Cars Real and Unreal

There is a lot of opinion out there among blog readers, especially those of a certain age, that the car blogs and car fan mags spend way too much time on supercars and other such fantasy-land creations. Too much time dreaming and drooling over what, for most of us, are unwinnable lottery prizes.

I was away last week when our spirited tgriffith wrote his enthusiastic piece about speed, power, 0-60 times, and the Nissan GT-R (talk about ugly!). His post provoked some interesting comments about price and high-end, high-performance cars.

Commenter panayoti said, “I just wish they would refocus their time [and] energy on cars that the public buys, not the ones that the Gurus think will get our juices flowing.” He also thinks green cars are overpriced “sardine cans.” But he did give us some welcome compliments.

A friend of mine who has raced, owned and worked on everything from Gullwing 300SLs to HRGs wrote me along similar lines:

I’ve been mentalizing a “new” approach for a column, focused on present-day affordable cars, instead of the glossy, over-powered, over-priced, frankly impractical products being foisted off on our fellow scribes, and the 98 percent of the car market who are, for realistic considerations, confined to just drooling at that stuff. Let’s give them something to get their hands on, do something with.

2010 Honda Civic sedanFor me, it’s a point well taken, though if you look at our blog’s postings over the past month, you’ll find us dealing with a whole bunch of “practical” cars, among them the Mazda5, Ford Explorer, Chrysler and Kia products, the Buick Regal GS and the Honda Civic (right). Plus, we regularly run various general-interest pieces on the industry, on used cars, and developments like backup cameras.

Personally, and maybe it is a function of age, I, too, am getting tired of all the oohing and ahhing over supercars and performance figures. Fantasizing about Ferraris isn’t fun anymore—especially on a fixed income.

Still, the car world is founded on embodying dreams, hankerings, and visions into its products, for better or worse. Auto shows, concept cars, racing, and now social media marketing consistently encourage us to dream bigger, faster, more powerful—and the bloggers and forums reflect that, even though it’s becoming apparent how really dumb such thinking is in our present world.

The older you get, the more “practical” you become, at least in some ways!

Do you consider cars to be vehicles of excitement or practicality?


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  1. One of the nice thing about a blog is that you can add a feature for very little cost. Not so with a car rag like Motor Trend, which has to pound out and mail a few extra tons of paper for every added page in the magazine. So it shouldn’t be that hard to feature a wider range of vehicle articles in the blog. I do like reading about exotic and green vehicles but also enjoy reading about regular cars, too.

  2. @jgoods

    I tried hard to stay away from this because you and your friend echoed my sentiments exactly, especially the “practicality” issue, so I’m responding here to perhaps give readers some of the reasons why car mags and now, blogs, have been so fascinated by and “encouraged” to write in such glowing terms about their experiences with these “supercars”.

    What red-blooded guy or gal reviewer wouldn’t jump at the opportunity of test driving and evaluating these vehicles?? First you would be compensated for your evaluation and review of these vehicles. Second, many of these scribes get the opportunity to “test” these vehicles on some of the most famous test tracks around the world. Hell, I would do it for nothing, just to get that opportunity. Many of these scribes have actual test track experiences because they have been paid to attend famous driving schools such as Bondurant. They are actually race car drivers trained on how to drive the car to its limits in a
    relatively safe manner. So they are the ones who transmit the “rush” they get going into a 140 mph curve, turning who knows how many G’s to their readers. Small wonder they are excited and eager to pass on their experience to their readers. Perhaps the most important part is that it doesn’t cost them anything. They drive it for free and don’t have any financial “skin” in the game. You and I have to pay for this rush and a year or two later, we can only hope to recoup a small fraction of this Supercar’s value when the rush has finally wore off and we decide to sell the car.

    Hell, the best I can do here is a downhill slalom at Snowshoe or a bungee jump at the New River Gorge. That’s still quite a rush and here you only have yourself to worry about. Forget about the reality of driving home from work on the local interstate or rural road. You don’t dare take the risks you would at Nurburgring or even Milford in the old days. The best we can probably do is Naperville where the course is set up in a consumer friendly layout with little risk to a capable driver.

    Those of us in the real world buy sedans with automatic transmissions yearning for the ride quality of a Grand Marquis rather than the 8 speed on the floor with the suspension of a Bradley tank sitting 2 inches off the pavement with your body contorted into a pretzel getting in and out of the damned thing. Is there an unbelievable rush? Absolutely!! But the price of that rush just isn’t practical in this real world of crowded freeways or rural roads littered with farmers taking their bales of hay to the north 40.

    So for most of us, Supercars just simply won’t cut it in real life. Have you seen the Nissan commercial with the wife telling the old man that they’re going to have a baby?? It hits him hard and he goes out and pets his 370Z and then tugs and yanks it into a Maxima. Later when he learns he’s having triplets, he sees a Nissan Quest like in a comic book. To me that says it all.

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