Theme : Places – Introduction

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.

Image : Les Hill Collection: Mount Gambier Library via
Image : Les Hill Collection: Mount Gambier Library via

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.

Image :
Aral Sea – Image :

7 thoughts on “Theme : Places – Introduction”

  1. Dear Simon: thank you for that introduction to the month’s mission and the latitude offered. South-America turned out to be very limiting.
    Places includes South-America so contributors are legally able to continue on that topic.
    About sherry: a fino will not leave marks on anything but the lightest fabrics.
    I shall get to work on the theme and see what emerges from my thought crate.

  2. I’m not educated on sherry, so more posts about it would be fine.

    months ago, somebody from DTW said a Jaguar XJ40 on a British road is a sad thing and I fully agree with it. but a XJ40 on a Brazilian road is an epiphany of good taste, believe me.

    however, the best car/place combination I can think about is a Ford Mustang in France. either the first generation or the current one, as long as it is a V8. maybe it’s the Serge Gainsbourg song, but there’s something in a ‘Stang in France that amazes me. if you ask me what it is, I’d reply with a Gallic shrug.

    1. A 1960s Mustang works in the south of France. I can imagine one on the Cote d’Azur. For the north of France any immaculate 80s Cadillac, Buick or even Oldsmobile would have much charm: a 1988 Buick Park Avenue or Cadillac Deville.

  3. Eduardo: thanks. I can see the appeal. It might be my own skewed tastes: I’d fancy a square 80s GM sedan as fitting nicely in to the Parisienne environs. It’d have to be well maintained though and trimmed with velour not hide. Do you imagine there is such a thing?

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