On Cars, Prestige, and Perceptions

27 08 2010

The post I made last week  brings up something that has sort of  bothered me since I bought the car I drive now. I wonder, had I parked a Chevy in the handicapped spot that day, would that  nosy woman even have taken note? Now, I have always LOVED cars. My parents tell me that I could name anything on the road from the time I could speak. I’ve traded cars like kids trade baseball cards, (do they still do that?) and I have resigned myself to the fact that, contrary to every piece of financial advice I’ve ever gotten, I will always have a car payment and I will never drive a car til it’s wheels fall off. I just like cars, and I like getting new and different ones. Everyone has their vices.

The car I have now is, to most anyone you asked, the nicest I’ve ever had. It’s a BMW–fully loaded, shiny, and beautiful. I love how it drives. I love how smooth it is, how fast it is, and how quietly it purrs toward 100 mph (which it will do very easily if the driver isn’t careful.)  I even thought I’d like it’s “snob appeal”–after all, I once felt my life would be a complete failure if I didn’t have a Mercedes by the time I turned 30. Maybe I’ve grown up, reprioritized, or simply realized that a person is a lot more than the size of their house, the cost of their car, or the balance on their bank accounts. But having this car makes me uncomfortable.

I’ve mentioned to several people recently that I’d just as soon have myself another Honda. I’m met with blank stares. Darling is aghast that I would even consider “trading down” and my friends laugh at me. But it’s about perceptions. In my mind, if I cut someone off in traffic in this car I’m not just a jerk, I’m a jerk in a BMW (there is a difference, isn’t there?) If I pulled into a tight space in a Honda, those parked next to me might (in my mind) remark that the damned spaces just aren’t wide enough, but in the Bimmer they are saying “Hmmph…guess they think they can just park that thing anywhere they want!”

I feel the need to make excuses for this car. Now, I always get good deals on cars. But for some reason I feel the need to underscore that fact with this one. I’m quick to point out that A. I bought it pre-owned, B. I got a helluva deal on it, and C. my monthly obligation is actually less than I was paying on my previous Honda. I’m fully aware that no one cares if I won it in a raffle or paid 50 grand for it.

The first time I took this car in for service, the dealership gave me a ride back to the office in their shuttle. My conversation with the driver turned to a recent headline I’d read that BMW sales were up last year. He went off into a speech about “our customers aren’t as affected by the downturn.” I was thinking, “Buddy, I’m one of your customers, and I guaran-damn-tee I have been!”   Then he went off on a tangent about the renaissance American car makers are having and how he thought it was wonderful because “blue collar workers need something to drive.” At which point I was thinking “Is a damned shuttle driver an executive position now??”

A new acquantaince remarked that “I’ve got a totally different opinion of you now” when he saw my car. Why? Am I not the same person whether I’m on a moped or being chauffered around in a limo? But, he was probably right, all of us form opinions of people based on what they drive, where they live, and what they are wearing. I guess we just can’t help it. I guess I’m just more comfortable in something a little more down to earth.

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17 responses

27 08 2010
sartenada

Congratulation to Your new German car. They are great. I have not BWM, but 3.5 years old (not oldtimer) Opel Vectra OPC V6 turbo, 2.8 liters with 280 hp. It is German car and it goes fast and especially on German highways. Photos on my blog.

Happy miles!!!

30 08 2010
The Vinyl Villager

Thanks for stopping by!

27 08 2010
Claire

I think your car is fine – as in “fine – smooth, sophisticated, etc. Yes, other people may have their perceptions of people in Bimmers but you know what? That’s their issue. There will come a time – maybe you are already there – where it really doesn’t matter what other people think or say. You earn your own money and you can choose to spend it however you want. If a Bimmer is what you want – hell, even a Ferrari if you like – that’s your choice and you shouldn’t have to defend that decision to anyone. (I too like cars and if I could afford it, I’d have more of them. LOL).

30 08 2010
The Vinyl Villager

Ah…when those winning lottery numbers come in Ill need to buy an airport hangar to store my cars in!

27 08 2010
The Incredible Woody

It is sad how we can judge someone based on their wheels. But it is also sad how we judge someone based on their race, sexual persuasion, hair color, etc. And while I love my Honda, I would surely love to scream down an empty highway in a Bugatti…….

30 08 2010
The Vinyl Villager

oooo a Bugatti! Ive never even seen one of those in person…what are they, like 1200 hp??

27 08 2010
Kim

Sweet car you have. I miss my M3 but not the cost of repairs.

30 08 2010
The Vinyl Villager

well, luckily BMW covers even maintenance so long as its under warranty…but I dread the day it isnt! (And at the rate Im driving, that will be very soon)

28 08 2010
Jason

Interesting post. I drive a Lexus, which I am leasing. Before the Lexus, I drove Volkswagens. Several. It may be because a lot of people in the LA area drive BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus, and Acuras, but I haven’t experienced any of these kinds of things that you describe.

You know what I think? I think you’re trying to set us up for the post where you tell us that you have gotten that new Honda. Because you have a car disease. The same one I have. You’re going through the stage where you justify your getting yet another different car to yourself.

It takes one to know one. 🙂

30 08 2010
The Vinyl Villager

Its true, I have a chronic, incurable, and very aggressive case of the Car Fickles.

29 08 2010
dawtch

I’d have a different car every month if Hunny wouldn’t have apoplexy over it…I love him dearly, but I am tired of him being tired of “me and my cars” – it’s not like I expect him to go car shopping with me – just look over what I pick out…the only perception of you & your car that matters is yours…piss on everyone else. I have found that you have to be SOMEONE to me for your opinion to matter, and it’s not easy to be SOMEONE to me…other people’s perception’s are their problem, not yours…and speaking as someone who has been known to be mouthy about non-handicap approved cars in handicap spots – I don’t give a shit what you’re driving, if the sticker or plate isn’t on the car stay outta the spot!
Didja miss me..? LOL
bb
dawch

30 08 2010
The Vinyl Villager

Yes I did!! Where ya been??

30 08 2010
big hair envy

OK. confession time….I cursed a “guy in a B-mer” for riding my a$$ the other day. I was in the right lane. Forgive me??

31 08 2010
The Girl from the Ghetto

Last February I was driving a nice little Pontiac G6, and these days I have no car and walk almost two miles to work each day.

I know my co-workers on some level must think I’m poor or whatever. I don’t care, because I’d rather pay my $450 a month student loans and be carless rather than have a car and not be able to pay my bills.

Fuck em’ all VV. If I had that car I’d be THRILLED! You go, boy!

31 08 2010
kim W

Forget everyone else! Enjoy…If they had one they would!

19 10 2010
Josh

I judge people in Mercedes and BMWs all of the time. haha.

19 10 2010
The Vinyl Villager

I know people do! I felt certain that I was prejudged as a pretentious douche in it.

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