JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL
I’ve always been a fan of cars. I bought into the 'cool factor' long ago. A factor built by Hollywood. From everything from to The Great Race, to the Fast and Furious, Back to the Future, American Graffiti, like EVERYJames Bond, The Italian Job, Dukes of Hazzard, etc, my eyes would be fixed on the cars in their scenes. Ignoring the plot and the actors. “Just look at that form, those curves, that liquid finish” I’d think to myself. “That is a cool fucking car”. Not just cars though, trucks and bikes too. Honestly the yellow Jeep Commanche from Twister is one of my all time favorite movie vehicles on the planet. AND the black Toyota Tacoma at the end of the the 3rd Back to the Future is my definition of #truckgoals.
So it goes to show, I’ve been that person my whole life. (It’s truly no surprise my partner is a mechanic). This not-so-low-key obsession occupied my thoughts from the ages of 13 to 16 when I was learning to drive. As I got older and started exploring the retro automotive advertising, via Life magazine and billboards. The concept that every brand subtly leaned on was, freedom. The 'Like a Rock' Chevy campaign for example was my first early 90's tast into that freedom currency. I bought into that freedom with every emotional penny. Not because I needed to get away for any real reason, just simply to be absorbed by the image of utmost coolness.
GOD, PLEASE HELP THE CARS
Now, what the hell has happened to the cars? Cars that are built now, your average run-of-the-mill 2000’s model Chevy sedan for example, does possibly the worst job of channeling cool, freedom, or loveliness than anything else on the planet. All new stuff isn’t bad. Yeah the super car category would be an exception to that. The Hybrid Bugatti Chiron for example is on it’s own planet where ‘cool’ is the primary element fused into every atom. BUT my comparison falls only to regular joe cars accessible, mass produced, and designed by the rules of what the current times’ culture deems marketable.
The public changed so the cars did too. Imagine selling the 40-ton hunk of clunk that was a 70's Ford Fairlane in todays market? Not only would constant maintenance be the target of internet trolls everywhere, turning 'that car' into a meme, but customers would be starting a sub-reddit simply for posting videos of people laughing hysterically at the salesman after hearing the MPG rating.
WHAT IS COOL?
The only thing that can channel real and sublime ‘cool’ is a vintage car. You need the deafening sound of a real (usually 12ft long) steel door slamming closed on the slightest push. You need the weird smell of leather and metal thats currently rusting. You need the rattle going down the road. All the fucking rattles of the trillions of mechanical bits slamming into each other. It doesn’t need to be too vintage, but definitely can’t be anything newer than the 80’s. Plastic = Not cool. AC = Not cool. Various mechanisms of comfort = you guessed it, un-cool.
Fo some people I guess, driving a 2015 Chevy Malibu is just fine. There's nothing wrong with normal cars that get people from A to B. But think of car’s soul as deteriorating. Because what will a vintage car show, like the one pictured below on Beale Street in Memphis, even consist of in 20 years? I can tell you it won’t be a 2007 Honda Accord. It’ll still be the ’67 Mustang GT, or the ’79 Pontiac Firebird under a tarp in some ones garage. Because those hunks of steel, leather upholstery, wood dashes, ostentatious gear shifters, 8 inch round headlights, white wall tires, and edgy curves hold all the soul that advertisers promised. AND all the memories of being driven around on what is basically a different planet by comparison, to present times. You don’t need to go fast to feel it, or even be moving at all. It’s a warm rush of tingles that matches the engines' crank and proceeds to soar as high as the RPMS. That’s what cool sounds like.