Our Editor returns late to his desk following an unfortunate delay at the hands of an industry PR man holding a particularly fine Oloroso and is, for the first time in his life, late with his copy.
The year’s end approaches and our thoughts traditionally drift to where we have visited this year, and where we might visit next year. This last month, our minds have been on South America, a place that distance still renders as slightly mysterious and exotic to we Europeans.
If you travel with a car, it’s impossible to avoid noticing that its character can suddenly make more sense or, conversely, that it can become out of its depth, depending on where you are. It’s a matter of place.
Shall we discuss Topophilia and Topophobia? One person’s sense of place is not another’s, as this year has made all too clear to us. Cars do not exist in a vacuum. The changes we see in the vehicles that we are currently offered is, in part, due to the fact that the major market for many European manufacturers is not longer viewed as being Europe. Cars that don’t quite make sense to us here, make perfect sense in another place, such as China.
These differences can be cultural, they may be due to geography or to weather, and they may be as subtle as the way that light falls onto a surface. Old American cars were always very dependent on place. Parked on a Home Counties street, a be-finned Cadillac became a freakish temple to excess, but parked on a Miami waterfront it made perfect sense. Likewise, a Smart Car, fine even outside a European city, looks slightly ridiculous, or ridiculously slight, crossing the Nevada desert.
So, this month we consider Places. But, in case any of our authors have no sense of place, or consider one place the same as another, with my usual noted tolerance, leavened even further with Christmas goodwill, I will accept other interpretations. Consider, if you wish, the one time designation of seat numbers, such as in the two-place doctor’s coupé. Or consider the Bugatti Veyron, if you must (my editorial goodwill increases even further), its place in your heart or its place in the Guinness Book of (Pointless) Records. Or, if you are French, or even just a francophile, you may even wish to consider some of that country’s fine municipal squares.
Now I can’t make it much easier than that, can I? And remember, this is the festive season for many so make sure that you don’t drink and drive. I find sherry stains so hard to remove from upholstery.