Sunday, 8 August 2010

Car = Mood?

Does the type of car you drive affect your lifestyle mood? Just like the weather can subconsciously shift our mood I wonder if car choice, irrespective of cash value, has a say on how happy we are. This thought came to me whilst sitting in the back of a rather tasty Mini Cooper S on a journey back from a stag weekend. As I sat in the cocooned fashion statement I couldn't help but think about the amount of time the designers must have spent in getting every detail so right that it would be impossible to be irritated or sad or depressed. The big speedometer in the middle of the dash, the oval design on the back of the seats even the little nub on the grab handle for hanging suits. It felt robust and that cheered me up bearing in mind I'm more accustomed to pokey 1.2 litre engines. And as we breezed along the motorway passing car after car I could see the look in the faces of the drivers and I felt sad. Because they looked sad. For example; there is nothing wrong with a Volkswagen Sharan but it's big and looks a bit like a hearse and from what I could gather from the driver's face, it has a kind of "it'll do" feeling about it. Now for argument's sake let's say that car, 2008 model, cost €20,000 second hand. Why didn't the owner decide to buy a second hand 2005 BMW 5-series instead? It's infinitely better. Aside from lacking massive amounts of storage space they are leagues apart and would perhaps in the long run make you happier. Other examples? Instead of a Jaguar X-type for €30k buy a Mercedes C-Class. Instead of a Mercedes R-Class for €46k buy a BMW 3 series. Instead of a Chevrolet Lacetti for €17k buy a Skoda Octavia. I believe it when owners of Ferrari's say that a simple Fiat 500 is as much fun as fun as an F430. And this made me ask why anybody would knowingly purchase something like a Peugeot 407 Coupe when they could have had a an Alfa Brera and I can only assume it comes down to knowledge. There are unfortunate motorists out there who only know how to buy a car using a calculator and the car dealerships know it. That's why a driver will emerge from a Citroen forecourt with a smile on his face despite the fact that 3 years down the line it will have depreciated horribly by which time the driver will look very unhappy. Tricking yourself into believing you're content reminds me of a metaphor a Jesuit once told me: Imagine if you had a car with 5 gears but you were only ever aware of 4 so you never used the final great gear, is it better to be in a state of "ignorance is bliss" or is it a crying shame that you will never get to use that final gear? With so many great cars available these days the latter is sad truth. So please if you're going to buy a car listen around to how others have found living with it. Look at their demeanour. Maybe just maybe everyone can find a spark in their car that makes the day a little nicer.

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