Keep it simple!

By: Anne Corke

Jun 06 2021

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Category: Cars, Life stories

1 Comment

Technology is great, to a point. But lately it seems to have taken over every aspect of our lives including our cars. And although the manufacturers would have you believe that it makes the cars better, I would beg to differ.

I am part of the older generation. When I was young, most of the fathers on my street spent the weekends fixing their cars. Cars were pretty simple in those days with lots of room to work under the hood. Money was tight so most people did their own car repairs. A new car was a pipe dream for most families. I remember when one of our neighbours bought a new car and everyone on the block came by to admire it. I loved hanging out with Dad and we both loved cars. Each September my Dad and I would check out the new models at the dealers though it was understood that we were just looking. When Dad decided he needed a newer model, I would accompany him to the car lots looking for his next Elizabeth – they were all called Elizabeth. I’m not sure if that was in honour of the Queen or a reference to Ford’s original tin Lizzy.

But a car is no longer just a car, it’s all computerized now. In the interests of safety, we have such exciting things as lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, forward collision warning, and so on. And while one could argue that these are all good things, it seems to me that it encourages lack of focus in drivers who now rely on the car to almost drive itself (which some actually do). And it goes far beyond safety features to wireless Apple Car Play, massaging seats, automated parking and more. There’s even one model that will pull itself out of the garage for you – I kid you not! While some of these features are quite useful, others are simply interesting novelties that have nothing to do with motoring in my opinion.

I yearn for the good old days of seat-of-your-pants wind-in-your-hair driving, for a car that is fun to drive, for real gauges not idiot lights, for switches and knobs not touch screens. Much as I might admire Ferraris and Maseratis, it really is pointless to have all that horsepower when it’s illegal to actually drive at the speeds that these cars can attain, not to mention that most of the people driving them have neither the acuity of the senses nor the training and aptitude to drive at high speed. And they are totally impractical for everyday driving.

Back in the 70s, my father had a ’69 Rover 2000 TC. She was a sweet ride, leather interior, walnut dash, stick shift. A very English car, the owner’s manual cautioned that, should you intend to cruise at speeds above 100 miles per hour, you should increase your tire pressures accordingly. Such a fun car to drive though not really practical for the Canadian climate. In winter, you could count on her not starting on cold mornings. In fact, my husband later bought the car and used to take the battery indoors on winter nights. And keeping those two carburetors synced was an on-going challenge. Nonetheless, I still love British cars and my son Jeremy and I make a point of attending the British car shows in Lindsay and Port Perry in the summer, seeking out old Rovers, admiring classic MGs and Triumphs and generally spending a lot of money in our heads!

Now I own two cars. The first, my little guilty pleasure, is a 1996 Honda Del Sol which my late husband purchased on a whim after seeing her photo while browsing online. He’s been gone for seven years now and every spring Jeremy and I debate whether we should sell her. And every year we can’t decide so we keep her maintained and take her out for summer drives. She’s not particularly fast but she’s such fun to drive. She doesn’t have all kinds of special features but there’s great flow-through ventilation with the back window open! And she has a spiffy colour-shift paint job which morphs from gold to copper to teal to blue to purple as the light changes. But getting in and out is a bit of a challenge for someone who has had major hip reconstruction so my daily drive is my cute yellow 2016 Honda Fit, again nothing fancy but also fun to drive, incredibly versatile (configuration and cargo space wise), fuel efficient, very dog-friendly according to Danny and 10 inches higher than the Del Sol.

Both these cars are relatively uncomplicated which suits me just fine. Why go to the extra expense to drive a vehicle that is more than you need. Bigger is not necessarily better. And all those trendy features, well, they are just something else that could go wrong. Keep it simple and enjoy the drive.

Copyright 2021 Anne Corke

One comment on “Keep it simple!”

  1. Great post, Anne. I found myself nodding with everything you wrote!

    Drew Monkman http://www.drewmonkman.com 705-743-0868 (home) 705-760-1436 (cell)

    “To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.”

    ― Wendell Berry


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