Despite what you consistently hear, despite what you may even believe, America is without question the greatest country in the world. I am sorry if that truth hurts some people’s feeling or steps on some toes. I am sorry if many of us here are focused on the negatives and disillusioned or even embarrassed by our flaws. Because in balance, even exaggerating our many imperfections, when looking at all that we have and all that we are, there is no equal to the USA. Say it with me, say it loud, and say it with pride: ‘Murica.
And the same thing goes for our cars. Hands down, we make the best in the world.
I bet you didn’t see that coming. Think the cheese slid off my cracker? Think again, because I am going to prove it to you. ‘Murica. Better than Germany, England, Japan, even Italy. (Yes, Italy).
I just got back from a road trip as near enough as makes no difference across the country. 5555 miles in nine days of driving, from my home in Lynchburg, VA, to the 48th floor of Trump International in Las Vegas, Nevada, 5 national parks, 10 states, a brontosaurus worth of gasoline, one glass chip, and one speeding ticket. All in a German car. A fantastic German car, one I hope to never get rid of. A trip of such significance that life-changing is the only appropriate adjective. But it was the trip itself that was so incredibly epic. And now I attach the significance of the trip to this particular car, which is why it will always be special to me. But that in no way changes what that car really is, nor does it change the fact that there are better American-made choices.
As my understanding of the magnitude of our incredible land permeated my being deeper and deeper with every corner and crest of the road, so did my understanding of what a car really is, what it really does, why these machines are so important in our lives, whether we care to admit it or not. And only by understanding the true essence of the car can you hope to comprehend what makes one great. Once you do that, you too will begin to understand.
It has been said many times: cars represent freedom, and in that way, they are very much an expression of the American spirit. Armed with a credit card for gas and lodging, a dozen pairs of underwear, a toothbrush (and floss – my father was a dentist), and some reservations via Expedia, we completed in a week-and-a-half a trip that would have consumed months and a significant number of lives in the not-so-distant past. This is something every American should do, because I promise you that you cannot understand the scope of our gift that is the land we occupy without making such a journey. Every destination was overwhelming, from the vastness of the plains of Texas to the majesty of the Grand Canyon, the near alien beauty of Zion and Bryce, the cartoon-like structures that defy imagination in Arches; none of it can be remotely appreciated in photos, and the incredible expanses cannot be processed if you travel by plane. You just have to do it.
And then you will see that it is the journey that is special, and the car is but a means to an end. If that sounds like the mantra of the typical Prius owner and you are thinking somehow I need to be silenced before I assist in spreading more of this destructive nonsense, hear me out. The car provides the vehicle for the experience, but the experience is what you are after. That experience can absolutely include the sheer joy of driving. But if the car lacks the practicality, the ability, and is inaccessible? If it won’t carry your stuff, it won’t actually go on the roads you are travelling? If you simply cant afford it? Then it is completely useless.
And no other country makes cars that tick these boxes like we do. And that’s why we do it best.
If my national stereotyping of cars offends you, suck it up. Because it’s absolutely valid. I don’t find it offensive, I find it delightful. It should be celebrated, not stuffed into a bin with other politically correct nonsense. Face it, different cultures approach life in different ways. This is a good thing. It’s what makes us diverse, it’s what makes us interesting. No one wants to go to England and have it be just like Germany, or have Italy be like Japan. We are different, we can and should all be proud of who we are and where we came from. And not take all this crap too seriously.
I think it is because of the importance of cars in the lives of humans all over the globe that these cultural ideals soak into the very metal of the machines of those that make them. German cars are very German. English cars embody the values of the British. As do Italian cars, and Japanese. And American cars have been and remain so very American.
Am I even allowed to say that? Of late, I have kept any pride as a citizen of the United States buried somewhere in my innards, almost embarrassed to allow it to rise to the surface, lest it be seen by others and reveal the dark flaws in my nature. But this trip swept away any such insecurities, taking with it the fallacy of the inferiority of the American automobile.
Over the next series of babbling blogs I am going to try to explain where you can find the Germanic logic in German cars, the English tradition in British cars, the Italian flamboyance in the best cars from Italy, and the pioneering American spirit in the cars that we instill with our own ideals and values, right here in the good ‘ol US of A.