Some of those shopworn gems include the idea that steering should be heavy, Opel make bad/dull/boring cars, Ferrari is interesting but Japanese cars are not; small saloon cars are drab, six speed gearboxes are a good thing, low profile tyres and big wheels are visually worth it, bright colour is wrong inside and out. Those are some of the bits of second hand wisdom I have accumulated and sloughed off.
Car journalism is full of ideas like these that hang waiting on pegs ready to be re-used so as to avoid any new thinking to be done. I notice that most of the shopworn, secondhand ideas I have ditched are the ones adhered to by the anorak-wearing types who like loud and speedy cars. On the one hand the visual aggression and assertive character of these cars is seemingly untraditional and exciting and “youthy”. In another sense, these ideas form a deeply rigid and conservative canon that many car journalists subscribe to. They are just as stuck-in-the-mud as any one else, but it’s different mud. Or put another way, these clichés about hard suspension, meaty steering and balls-to-the-wall driving capability are fine for sports cars but they are a form of sports car fundamentalism which
has burst out of its little trackday world. I am really quite agnostic on cars. I ask if the car does what it seems to be intended to do. Does it follow some basic sensible ideas about useability? Does it have an ashtray? I can take my ideas from Ford Fiesta all the way to
Lamborghini Huracan (should I get the chance). I don’t ask myself do I like this car or that car but is that car or this car suited to the kind of person I think it’s designed for. That’s why I never hated the Ford Fusion and why the BMW GT cars don’t bother me at all; and if some American cars are definitely rubbish many were very well judged for the customer and conditions they were going to encounter. Like all of us, I have my clichés and well-anchored prejudices but they are mine and I found them myself.