21/1/2002
 

:claudia's column:

the present

   
Have you ever wondered why it is that people drive around in such boring cars? If you are a boring person then that is fair enough, that is obviously the statement you would like to make about youself. Advertising ploys try to convince you to buy cars suggesting that your car is a lifestyle statement - maybe this is true but who the hell would want to buy the lifestyle they are promoting?*    
       

 

So many people spend too much time in their cars, so you would think they would want to do something about how perfectly horrid they look. What, you may ask, can be done? I agree it is not too easy for the ordinary man.

If you are terrifically rich then you could have a wonderful vehicle made specifically for your fortunate personality and capacious wallet, (though of all the ridiculously rich people I know not one drives an interesting car).

If you are fantastically poor then you may by default be driving a unique car because if your exhaust pipe, bumpers or wing-mirrors fall off you have to be resourceful, (I saw some wonderful examples of this in Naples during the summer). If you are something in between, or outrageously ordinary then your choices are severely limited, even though 'choice' is supposed to epitomise our age.

   
       

All cars from the very top end to the very bottom of the market look the same, have the same aesthetic signs, and ultimately look like an oversized example of sports footwear. Gone is the age of beautiful cars, but we have to be positive about the present.

For example, if you drive a Rover 75 and are an accountant then paint sexy women all over your car, if you drive a Renault Clio and are a PR girl then cover your car in all your old handbags, if you drive a Ford Fiesta and are in telesales then paint a seascape all over it, add a mast and sails and call it a yacht, and if you drive a Mercedes estate and are a laywer, then cover your sad old car in photographs of babies and flowers.

 

   

If you are afraid that such expressions of individuality will have a negative effect on the value of your car, if you come to sell it, then simply make sure your design is an immaculate work of art, or if you like, just continue to drive around in that nondescipt way in your speedily depreciating-in-value vehicle.

 

   
 

Before Christmas I had decided this was the only solution to this aesthetic disaster and had already started considering some appropriate designs for the day when I would own a car. Little did I think that someone would give me a car for Christmas. My new car is a classic, early seventies, Volvo estate sports car. It would be sacrilege to change it, particularly since it is painted, most incredibly in real gold. I am confident that you will have no difficulties in recognising me around town.

   
       
*(If you disagree with this then you ought not to be reading this column.)