On cars and their drivers (Part 1)

While trying to decide what a new driver we know should be driving, a conversation with my brothers quickly degenerated into the usual argument we always seem to gravitate to: image. No matter why you choose the car you drive on a daily basis it will reflect a lot on you – far too much for my liking in fact. Even choosing a car which is a non-statement is actually a statement in itself. If I offend anyone just keep in mind that this is completely subjective, and I will attempt to justify my thought-process every time. This has always been an issue – in the middle ages you’d show off your class by having a horse-drawn carriage, however there was always some rich bugger who had two more horses than you had.

There are some caveats you should look out for – circumstance is a big one for example. When I drove a Land Rover on a daily basis it would have been impossible to judge me since it spent more time at the mechanic’s than ferrying me around the island. During these two years I could be spotted driving anything from a small roadster to a boring hatch back or a big Japanese SUV. Judge that.

It would be impossible to write all the potential vehicle types (and models) in one sitting, so here I shall just introduce the concept and come up with a few examples as teasers – more should be forthcoming in the future. You can tell something about a car’s owner through its colour, the kind of vehicle it is, the make, model and much more. In some cases a vehicle can even change its owner – moulding them into submission.

The Hairdressers’ Car

This is probably the easiest category to write about (and to diss). When someone buys a car which is severely underpowered but looks “impressive” to the untrained eye you can tell quite a bit about them.

Hairdressers’ cars are bought with one purpose in mind – to be seen in them. When someone owns one there is a much higher probability of them parking in awkward positions in very busy roads, especially ones with high pedestrian traffic. If you live in Malta, just go to the Sliema seafront on a sunny Saturday morning and you’ll see more of them than you can find snails after the first rain in September.

Another telltale you can spot a mile away is when you’re meeting one – they’ll have to find a way to include the fact in the conversation somehow: “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll spot me – I’m in the Yellow Cabriolet”. It is a ten-year-old rag-top Punto. It will stop next time it rains. A truck is faster up a hill. Get a life.

BUT – the funniest (or saddest) thing here is that some people are still impressed by these tactics – I remember an ancient relative of mine, may God bless her soul, stating that a friend of ours had bought a “sports car”. She had bought a convertible Nissan Micra. With all due respect, my dad’s tractor is far sportier.

Sure, some might argue that they love the feeling of wind in their hair – and that I’m just jealous because I have no hair to be ruffled. Others could say that I’m dull and boring for not loving the freedom and options a convertible gives you. I just choose not to like a car which shows off for the sake of it. If I were to ever own a showy car I would make sure it has the performance to match.

Finally you have to be careful before judging – not all hairdressers’ cars are convertibles (though most of them are) and more importantly not all convertible cars are hairdessers’ cars. Some make a concerted effort to offer a positive driving experience all round, which somehow compensates for the showiness. That is when a potential hairdressers’ car becomes a cult vehicle, mistaken for a hairdressers’ car only by amateur car psychologists.