This time I am not going to talk about murder and destruction on the african continent but I’ll try and keep it simple by describing how global insanity has invaded the minds of people who are responsible for making cars, the sacred cows of, what we like to call, our civilization. If you want me to write about maritime matters, do tell me, but right now I’d like to give my impression of an industry that has gone delirious. The hacks that write about their products are even worse but then they appear to be paid flunkies by that industry. I’m talking about the recent developments in car design not about those enormous wagons that the americans produced 50 years ago that had to be aimed because they could not be steered. In those days the industry had to come to grips with new technology and had to say goodbye to the wagon making notions that had inspired them since 1900.

In Europe and Japan, from the sixties onward, better and better cars were produced, not so much in America because those producers had the notion that nothing better could be produced than an American car that slurped vast quantities of under priced petrol. The oil embargo of 1973 induced some producers to design and build smaller and more efficient engines but soon the ‘wealthy’ countries, already living on borrowed money, demanded again more powerful cars. As rich as you are, you can’t scoff much more food than the next bloke but you can show off your superiority by having 500 horses under the bonnet of your car compared to your neighbour’s 2hp Citroen.

Came the nineties, oil prices steadily rising, who cares, credit will take care, more technology, computerised engines and not a mechanic anymore who can repair those bloody motors without a million dollar computer that checks your car computer. The designers started running amok between their computers and wind tunnels, the excuse being that in order to reduce consumption, air resistance must be diminished and they produced vehicles with almost flat lying windscreens, the accessibility of which became problematic with most normally constituted human beings. Personally I’ve never tried to get in one of those bloody cars, if I’m given a lift I’ll take the backseat.

I find it amazing the suffering people will accept once they’re told it’s modern. At parties they accept a horrible amount of muzak decibels that makes conversation impossible and no one moans. I do and then, most of the time, I leave.

In South Africa we have a lot of one ton trucks, called utes in Australia and bakkies here. They used to be useful vehicles towards the end of the nineties until the stylist got their delicate hands on them also. You buy a bakkie because you want to carry things and to pick up your load, often you have to reverse as close as you can. In older bakkies you reversed until the rear bumper just touched but in ‘modern’ bakkies you can’t do that because the taillights are not anymore tucked under the loading platform but stick out from the rear corners. To make sure that you’ll bugger them up when reversing, the designers have shortened the bumpers so the first warning that you’re close to your load is the crackling of those bloody taillights. Six hundred bucks at least.

What I find the most amazing is the fact that all these carmakers copy these idiotic designs from one another. When Toyota puts stick out taillights on their last design bakkie, you can be sure that Nissan, Ford and the rest produce the same crap a few months later. Another maker with modern and innovative ideas paints zigzag marks on the side of the body, possibly inspired by his two year old son, sure enough, the other maniacs, if they want to keep their jobs, have to paint their bakkies with still more nonsensical stuff. A vehicle that was originally designed as a workhorse costs these days in maintenance alone 5 times as much because of bad design.

However, for the really sublime stylist/designer bakkies are limited in scope, cars offer a vastly greater palette for his artistic aspirations. I say ‘his’ because I’m convinced that not a woman can be found that is so alienated from reality to produce the insane stuff that, despite everything, people still buy. Of course, many of these reputed makers such as Mercedes, that produce cars at prices more expensive than a decent house, can only function because they have the world’s criminals as their faithful clients. Only people that deal in dope, prostitutes or politics can buy the ‘upper range’ products of car companies that are respectfully inscribed on the world’s stock exchanges and can only exist because they rake in a great part of fraudulent and stolen money. These great 500 horsepower cars are adored by the car hacks who enthusiastically tell us that this car gets up to a hundred by one tenth of a second less then another. Not many of these fellows could change a spark plug but a similar plague of wine hacks exists that tell us of all kinds of fruit, tannin, tobacco, what have you, they discover in a bottle of wine. None of them have ever made a litre of wine but they drink plenty of it, kindly offered by the makers as long as they spout pretty literature about it.

Well, now I’ve come from the car to the winemaking trade. Lots of unknown things can be said about that as well but that will have to wait. I’d like to try and find today’s good things to write about. Can anyone help me?

PS. The latest from one those connoisseur car-hacks telling us about his experiences of  a million Rand Merc: “Handling inspires confidence.” Really?

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One Response to Cars, Crooks and Copycats

  1. Marcus Dekker says:

    The good things of today are the things that haven’t been distroyed yet.

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