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Car Purchase 5 - Journalist's Language

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Presenting it better

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  Fine feathers make fine birds

Those were the days, when there was special clothing, just for motorists. Whoever could afford a motor car, surely had enough money for the respective outfit (see picture 1). Is there anything left of this today? Hardly, apart from particularly easy-care clothing like drip-dry, no-ironing shirts perhaps, more than likely worn together with a T-shirt rather than with a tie.

Perhaps if you've had a look through the other pictures at the top of the page, you may also have noticed the ladies. Apparently they are an integral part of motor car presentations and their scanty clothing seems to suggest that mixing a little sex in, helps to sell the product.

For my part, as an exhibition visitor with a camera, they don't make much of an impression. On the contrary, when they stretch themselves over the bonnet they mess up the shot that I'm trying to get. Indeed, up to now I haven't managed to ask them, if they wouldn't mind stepping aside for a moment. If it were a female sales manager in the usual black business outfit, it wouldn't bother me at all.

Actually, I somehow feel sorry for the girls. It must be strenuous to stand next to a particular car all day and to be stared at. In my most comfortable shoes I can only manage, at the most, 3 or 4 hours on the trott. At least, every now and then a couple of young men come over to be photographed with them. One can only hope that the job of 'model' is at least well paid.

In picture 7, we see two typical mechanics, both wearing safety-shoes and also looking pretty dirty. Admittedly, they come from a typical truck-workshop, where life is hard but a there's also a hearty atmosphere. Not quite as swish as their colleagues in the motor car sector, although, also in the truck sector there is a changing from the workshop atmosphere to the entertainment-orientated outlet.

These two guys are not really representative any more. Even the truck workshops are becoming up-market. Nowadays, the working clothes (at least, those supplied by the company) are part of the corporate identity. Even the cleaning staff wear the same t-shirts as the other staff on the exhibition stand. In the final assembly section at VW in Wolfsburg, they wear white with matching gloves, almost as noble as the senior surgeon at the operating table.

Two motor car repairers appearing on private TV have even risen to a certain stardom. They solve the most amazing problems. Their clothing is always as neat as a pin. Indeed, their clothing doesn't fit in with their very strange attitude to accident prevention. It would sometimes be more sensible, not to drive the cars around on a two meter high hoist or to provoke a short-circuit on the battery using a normal-thickness cable. What does the Workmans Compensation Board say about this?

In this case I would say, that they are a bad example. Have a look at the clothes that the car salesmen wear. The correct appearance, in this case, is more important. One could almost get the impression, that a suit and tie is more important than expertise. One could almost wager, that the 'salesman' wearing a pullover or open-neck shirt, is almost certainly the boss himself, or his son. Indeed, even that is rare today, apparently without a suit, one sells less cars nowadays.

I must admit, that I also reacted somewhat oddly. For whatever reason, one goes into a car-dealers showroom on a Sunday and is a little confused by being attended to by a salesman in a thick, winter jacket and a woolen cap. After giving the matter some thought, it's perfectly logical. It's not at all economical, to heat the entire showroom for the sake of perhaps three or four possible customers.

We haven't as yet, said anything about picture 1. This one shows the typical gentleman-motorist of the 1920s. In the meantime, this sort of thing is no longer necessary. The car itself has become the garment. It represents almost everything, that we want to show the outside world. This is not only valid for particularly posh cars, but also for the non-conformists. The driving around in a particularly battered jalopy, offers a similarity to wearing jeans in public that are also just about falling apart.

You don't believe it? Then do the 'small-car experiment'. If it's even possible, rent yourself a small, underpowered, three-cylinder car and take the risk, if you dare, of going into the left hand lane, of course at an adequate speed. In Germany this is mostly still not lead to a critical situation.

In a foreign country, we had the opportunity of having a Ford Transit almost in our boot, although the right lane was full of traffic. The moment we slipped into the first free slot on the right, we were also given the obscene middle-finger gesture. In eastern Europe, where there are mostly very large and fast, or old, slow cars, the best thing to do is to stay in the right lane, if you value your life.

You can turn it around any way you like, fine feathers do make fine birds and cars just happen to be the feathers, which can be most easily classified. One example: tests have been made, just how long the drivers of cars at the back of a queue will wait before they sound the horn if the front car doesn't pull off when the traffic light changes to green. If the front car belonged to the upper class, they were prepared to wait distinctly longer.

Salespeople are capable of convincing unwitting buyers to take the more expensive model, even though their line of credit has already been drastically exceeded. Because 'it really suits you'. In this respect men are just as vain as women. The car almost becomes the sitting room, particularly in Germany. What makes sense for travelling from A to B, what is exaggerated?

Why does one need little assistants, which switch on the lights or the windscreen wipers? Anyone can see if it's getting dark or raining. Any attempts to reduce the weight are cancelled out again by adding extra comfort-features. In the meantime, up to more than 3000 Watts of generator capacity are necessary. In the past, this was only found luxury coaches.

The time is coming when we are going to have to drop the high-prestige cars. With this amount of current, the range of an electric car is, at the most, 60 to 100 kilometers. These would be low-performance compact cars for the price of a reasonable top of the range car. Perhaps the new power units will make it possible to break the emotional ties to a particular car. 12/12