You don’t have to be a car buff to notice the proliferation of SUVs. Every manufacturer seems to have one. They started years ago with the productions of Lincoln Navigator (undeniably a truck tarted up to be expensive), Cadillac Escalade (the competitor’s answer to absurdity) followed by others with preposterously Freudian names like Pilot, Armada, Tahoe, Land Cruiser and the ubiquitous Land Rover (a designer Jeep for the real cowboy). The German-based vehicles like Audi, BMW and Mercedes and many of the Japanese manufacturers had the dignity to preserve complicated letter codes for identification. Meanwhile the iconic American sedans such as Cadillac and Lincoln have translated their flagships into Chevrolets and Fords respectively, all very nice (and in some instances surprisingly so) but distinctly passé. Even Jaguar, Porsche, Bentley and Rolls-Royce have compromised their once elegant symbols of leather-gloved driving to oversized road warriors for people who drive while sitting sideways with one hand on the wheel and their left elbow on the top of the door panel. The only American sedans of note which will survive are the muscle cars like Camaro and Mustang which never qualified as mere sedans in any event – just toys.
The switch from mobile living rooms to SUVs hasn’t come with entire denial. The aging population which notoriously fuelled the sheet-metal variety is easily convinced of the utility of getting in and out of a higher-based SUV. There might also be a case for the greater safety of the larger vehicles. I prefer to distinguish my own alteration (submission is too harsh a word) as a recognition of the superlative technology of the new vehicles (and a commensurate aging of the former sedans). The Lincoln Aviator for example has unquestionably achieved the height of technological advancement in addition to celebrity for the comfort which formerly discriminated those luxury vehicles with a predominantly boulevard ride. The image of Matthew McConaughey dressed in a winter parka and sitting in the back of a Lincoln Aviator while ice fishing is not exactly what stimulates me but seemingly it appeals to the younger set. The same can be said of the Lincoln Corsair model for which the advertising is blatantly directed at the young and fashionable African American set.
Nonetheless it is worth noting that Lincoln’s attempt to preserve the Continental by adding “suicide doors” didn’t go far but they can’t be blamed for trying.
Though I doubt anyone will believe me when I say this, I think I am approaching the end of the road concerning my erstwhile appetite for vehicles. Obviously this is a further collateral of unceremonious aging but it also addresses the more sophisticated psychological amendment associated with the overriding unimportance of the material world generally. I have always maintained that my affection for gold was rooted in this shameful attempt to defeat eventual evaporation. Getting back to cars though, I can see the reasoning behind so many old fogeys keeping their favourite old car. It isn’t at all an economic consideration but rather a futile attempt to resist the inevitability of the one change we’d all prefer to avoid. Naturally hanging onto the past in any description never works. But neither does botox and hair colour after a certain age.
In the result the only plausible alternative is to eat when you’re hungry. Once the lustre is gone there’ll be no attraction in any case. Is it any wonder automobiles have such a hold on so many of us? And did I mention that for me walking is now totally out of the question! After bicycling my idea of a good time outside is a drive in the country. But not ice fishing. Summertime only – at least for now!