50 Shades of Grey. Why are People's cars so Boring?
This morning, whilst browsing Facebook, I was attracted to a Polestar advert that invited you to configure your own Polestar 2. Of course, like almost all car loving people, I immediately stopped what I was doing and hit that advert … I mean, who doesn’t love building a car they neither want nor can afford?
The page loaded and immediately there was a problem … the exterior colour choices were basically British cloud grey, Apple iPhone white, the darkest blue possible and pure black (not official Polestar names but #yawn either way). That got me thinking: why do people hate colourful cars?
Even outside of the virtual world, it seems like most people seldom enjoy colour when it comes to their car; my daily commute, which is continually dominated by a sea of bland colours, is testament to that. Most of us spend hours every single day in our car, so why wouldn’t you want something a little different? Something exciting? Why wouldn’t you want to be a little bit interesting?
I mean, when you think about it, this lack of desire for anything interesting, anything that stands out, can probably be attributed to many people seeing their cars as nothing more than a mode of transport; it has its job and that’s that. Makes sense when you think about it - when was the last time you were overly bothered about the colour of your iron?
Even so, I feel it lends itself to a bigger issue that I’ve never understood - the almost unwavering requirement for cars to always be really serious; something that always needs to be practical, always needs to be economical, always needs to fit in and always needs to be sensible in every capacity.
Maybe my 70’s punk playlist is getting to me and I’ve finally turned into the rebel that I always wanted to be at school, but I can’t help but actually see my car as a bit of a joke and a chance to stand out. It has stickers all over it, it’s multiple shades of gold, it has a stupid name and it has nail polish filling in some of the holes (maybe don’t do the last one). Due to all of those things, however, it’s personal to me and it has a sense of humour.
That sense of humour makes every single drive a little bit more enjoyable, it makes every adventure more fun and every story more epic. I guess that’s where I wanted to go with this article (I’ll be honest, I’m riding the coattails of writer’s block and winging it massively) – getting some colour in your life and making your car more than a car will genuinely make your life a little more interesting.
I’m not saying you need to go out and become a hardcore petrolhead but, as I mentioned, we all spend a horrendous amount of time in our little tin cans – usually stuck in traffic under heavily grey clouds – so embrace your car for the entity that it is and have a laugh with it. So far in this article, I’ve played on colour a lot and that’s simply because it’s the easiest step into the world that I’m describing. The whole thing goes deeper than that, however.
In Japan – my spiritual homeland and obsession – drifters will do literally anything that they want to their car just because they think it’s funny or they like it. For me, the eye-opener was when Mighty Car Mods visited Japan and were shown an exhaust that had been styled to look like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. When they asked the owner “but, why?” he simply replied “I liked it” and laughed (I'm paraphrasing but, you know ... anyway, it's below)
There are no apologies there, there are no regrets, just solely an attitude of “I liked it, so I did it”. I cannot explain to you the extent to which I love that or the extent that he is my idol because of it. To most people, that exhaust looks stupid. But that doesn’t matter. It’s severely personal to him.
At the end of the day, regardless of where he is or where he’s going, he gets behind the wheel and enjoys that car because it’s a little bit of him and not for what the commuters around him think about it. We could all learn something from that. I mean, these days it seems like we really don’t have that much room for individuality … your car, even if it’s through one tiny sticker, is your massive opportunity.
Maybe that’s what we’ve found as car people, we just know how to have fun with cars because it’s what we love, it’s how we identify. You know, I don’t doubt that there’s someone just like me, sat in a room writing something to the same point about fishing gear or bicycles. It’s almost certainly the passion that drives us to our crazier decisions and it’s something that we’ll never be able to explain to anyone else.
To that end, it obviously means that, to many, just having a black/grey/white understated car is their way of expressing themselves, that’s how they want to be portrayed to the world and that’s okay. I guess that’s the very point I’m making: there is no wrong answer. You literally cannot go wrong as long as *you* love what you’re doing.
Ultimately, the ones settled in their decision aren’t the people I’m speaking to here. I’m after the ones that looked through a car configurator, picked the most extreme colour, said they liked it and then chose something toned down because of what Terry in Accounts might think. You’re the reason I’m writing this. Do I have your attention?
Don’t just do what everyone wants you to do – wow, that 70’s punk really has rubbed off on me – do what you want to do. Have a crazy colour in mind? Do it. Want an exhaust that looks like Mickey Mouse? Do it. Want to modify your car in some crazy way? Do it.
Honestly, it’s scary the first time, I totally get that but it’s insanely liberating and that the fear wears off rather instantaneously. Put it this way, I remember every single detail about buying and collecting my gold MX-5 and bright yellow S2000 but couldn’t tell you anything about my boring black Punto.
What you’ll end up with is something that you adore and that you’re telling the world you adore. You don’t fit in with that boring grey mass that sits on the motorway every morning. It’s that feeling which will lead to you enjoying your commute, you’ll start to enjoy every journey and you’ll almost certainly make conversation with strangers.
Look, at the end of the day, no matter what you do, someone isn’t going to understand it and people are always going to say it’s stupid/wrong/horrible so, in the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf, JUST DO IT! Forget about everyone else, forget about your car being a ‘serious tool’ and start having some fun. Embrace your flair and stand out, ultimately you’ll make a new metal friend … trust me, you won’t regret it.
*Unless you’re thinking about fitting car eyelashes. There’s a line. Don’t cross it. #jokes.