In this month’s entry we are going to explore what really makes us choose what we drive. Brand. This links into image, perception and ultimately self-worth. What does what we drive say about us? The answer to this question is key to understand what motivates us to make the decisions we make. I am going to throw myself under the microscope to illustrate what a shallow fool I am in the hope you might do the same.
So having had ten seconds or so to consider that particular car sat outside I wonder what you’re thoughts are and how honest you are being with yourselves….. Let’s look at the stereotypes first. Audi. What do you think of straight away? Rallying pedigree or the typical rep-car an inch of your rear bumper while you have the kids in the car? Range Rover. The arrogant self-important businessman looking down on you from above or the undeniable heritage and off-road pedigree? As with everything there is always two sides but when was the last sub 50-year-old you saw driving a Volvo or a Saab? The Saab driver is a classic.
On long journeys we have this game in our car where as we approach a vehicle to overtake it, we build a profile of who the driver will be, what they will look like, what they are listening to and so on. Its often scary how accurate the person is as you drive past them in the outside lane. I’ll show you… Rover 75 middle lane cruising, beige 03 plate, what do you picture? You see the stereotypes of brands are real! You picture “Nigel” don’t you? Beard, grey hair and listening to Radio 4 while sporting his knitted cardigan? I am not endorsing this behaviour I would add as it is some what cruel. What it does highlight simply is that people buy cars based on what they want that car to say about them. That can be reserved and safe or wild and wacky. More often than not it is the projection of wealth or daring that seems to dominate. With the exclusion of farmers who despite phenomenal wealth will drive the same car FOR LIFE!
Now I admit that other motivations clearly play a part such as practicality but there is always a choice despite what type of vehicle you want. You want a hatch back? Ok do you go Kia or BMW? If you can afford a BMW 90% of the time that is what you will drive, but why? There’s no such thing as a bad car these days with manufacturing the world over being to such a high standard so is it just vanity? I truly hope not but I know for me that is 100% the case. Being male I am as shallow as a puddle and I am far happier driving something expensive or performance related than I am a normal car. This is clearly despite the fact that the performance of the machine making me happy is irrelevant in the inevitable traffic jam. So, the reason I am happy is I feel successful and prosperous whilst showing the world (not that they care) that I like speed and that is cool. How silly but I did say I would throw myself under the sword and make an example of my hollow soul. If we are honest with ourselves this is a big factor in what we choose to drive or aspire to drive.
Introspection on buying habits can be a good thing and who knows it might save you money or it could go the other way as you realise the car you own doesn’t say what you want it to.
Look at Skoda for a complete success story. Depending on your vintage you might remember Skoda from before the VW money. If you do that was a very different product and brand than it is today! When I was 17 years old, I visited the Skoda factory as it was back then, my word was it a grey and stark place. I bet it looks like NASA in there now and the end results are worlds apart too.
The variety of product out there on the market is huge and they all have their niche. BMW are a great example of an aspirational brand who are also mass market. This is a very clever trick indeed! Cars don’t have to be expensive to create this mystique I would add so when you see the “ONE LIFE, LIVE IT” sticker in the next Defender you see consider the message.
They are right.
THE AUTO VIP.