Why impracticality makes sense.
The weather is beautiful, the birds are chirping. I'm sitting at my parents house for some lunch at easter weekend and am hearing motorcycles and boats coming by, with our dog barking away at them.
It made me wonder, why do some people torture themselves by putting on a leather suit and go for a drive? Why do some people sit on a boat, going extremely slowly to someplace they have nothing to do at? Motorcyclists often even like to drive slowly in groups, which defeats the purpose of having a relatively big engine in a light vehicle, right? People owning a big boat have spent hundreds of thousands euros on a thing which serves them no actual purpose during their regular life, only to get sunburns on them while going about..
I do find it odd, think about it, there's a ton of other stuff to do, but people like to torture themselves in order to get some fun.
My first road motorcycle, a Kawasaki Z750, which I drove a year. I always disliked the hassle to put on a suit, take it out of the shed.. However she drove great.
This brings me to my first car. Working together with my father at his firm, we often need to visit customers abroad. Therefore a GT car would be the best thing, right? So I bought an Audi A5 to do just that. A vehicle to give comfort on the long hauls and some style to take customers with for dinner. I found the car to be a bit dull however, and with it's 1,8 liter gasoline engine it didn't even want to help me get somewhere.
To make the car suit me, the first thing I did was lower it, first with coilovers, destroying comfort but improve streetcred and handling. Actually it improved the handling so much that it became fun to throw it into corners, even resulting in oversteer at times. Can you imagine an Audi with oversteer?
I then started to add more things like bigger wheels, tinted windows, a performance tune, and more. My father thought I was mad, ruining a beautiful and comfortable car like that, only to mention it each time we were about in it. I later upgraded to air suspension, which made the ride more comfortable, and my father less annoying.
We're always looking for character in a car, but doesn't each one have it?
The reason I tortured myself by driving an impractical car is much like why people drive motorcycles or own a boat. It gave the driving experience, streetcred, impracticality and therefore for me, the joy of owning and driving it. The Audi already had a character, but I modified it to suit my own character, perhaps a bit jobbish one I admit.
The Renault Kangoo I drove for a while, had all the space I ever needed, but was dreadful. Sometimes it was even scary when driven too hard, as the suspension was soft and the rear too light. Though it did have it's own laid-back and independable character, which perhaps many French cars have.
A Citroen C1 is a very simple and basic car, though it feels like a go-kart at times with it's hard suspension and perky little 3-cylinder engine. Or an Italian car, known for their reliability issues but nice looks and great engine. These give just that emotion that you should have when owning something, right?
I believe when us petrolheads are looking for a car's character, we're not looking at whether it has one, we're looking at whether it's a good one.
Perhaps it is the looks, impracticality and emotions a car gives us, which is what we're looking for? This is probably why supercars make so much sense.
Even the resolution of this picture is bad.
This is my parents' 1997 SLK. It's a car of many emotions. It is old, the roof leaks even when it's down, it has some electrical issues, had engine issues, it likes to drink, and has too soft suspension. Now, it has all of those things and it isn't even pretty, practical or necessarily fast.
While it might be an accurate description of my future mother in law, this SLK does have a lot of character, hasn't it?