Does running a classic breed motoring paranoia?


Author: James ElliottPublished:

Took the family out the other day and, seeing as the kiddie seats were already in it (as good a place as any to store them), I took everyone in the Merc family wagon, a grand’s worth of meh. That said, I have sung its praises before and will again: nothing that doesn’t need
a commercial licence to use the local tip can carry more.

Anyway, it was during our little jaunt that I noticed some of the reasons that I don’t enjoy living with modern cars.

Most of these problems come down to trust, more precisely my distrust of technology. I know that makes me a Luddite, but I am so embedded in classics that I find it hard to comprehend (or see the point of) many of the gimmicks that come as standard on modern cars. In fact, they just ruin what little bit of the soulless experience is positive enough to be ruined in the first place.

Small, irritating things on the whole. A bit like me!

For instance, I noticed that I never lock the Merc (if you know where I live be warned that it is wired to the national grid, or something). This is simply because I don’t trust flidgers (I expect they have a real name like remote key activation or something). And I don’t trust alarms , either, because they are forever going off when you don’t want them to and never going off when you do want them to. In fact, last time I went away for a couple of days I left the spare keys with a neighbour on the assumption that the alarm would go tonto in the middle of the night.

Of course, if it had (but of course, it didn’t) poor old Chris probably would have stumbled out there in the middle of the night in his pyjamas only to find out that the flidger didn’t work.

And that’s why I don’t lock the car. I can’t honestly say that I have ever been left stranded on the pavement because I can’t get into it, but it could happen. By the laws of probability it inevitably will happen.

Whether this is the fault of the Merc or, more likely, the fault of all the classics that have let me down and conditioned me to think that anything that can go wrong almost certainly will, is uncertain, but, even with these “essential” features put on one side, there
is plenty to dislike about modern car design.

When the family returned from our day out on Sunday, the kids had dozed off (funny, they don’t do that in the Interceptor) and a difficult transfer to their beds ensued. Afterwards, I went down to close the car up (close, not lock) and, as I was standing in the road like an idiot for 20 seconds after walking away from the Merc, I realised something else that drives me bonkers. Why on earth are all the companies obsessed with installing lights that don’t go out when you shut the door? It dawned on me that I have never once successfully just closed the door and walked away from this car. Every time, I am left standing there like a loon waiting for the lights to go out before I am at ease.

And they call them “courtesy” lights!


Martin Port

Add to your list those annoying 'keyless' entry systems that automatically lock themselves when the key is out of range. It's human nature to check that your car locks have worked before walking away and this is impossible with those newfangled thingummys. it's enough to cause a nervous breakdown.

Art Editor, C&SC

Mario Laguna


25 August, 2011

The young man whose body was found in his car completely dehydrated in Tarn-et-Garonne, succumbed to an exceptional combination of circumstances which have been the heat, alcohol, and especially the lock of his vehicle, said prosecutors Thursday.
This man of 22 years died trapped in his vehicle. He spent long hours locked in his car without being able to open from inside a vehicle that was parked in the sun at a time when the outside temperature was around 40 degrees.
Yet he was right in front of the family home of Moissac.
He returned with his brother one night in a disco in which they had been drinking heavily. The brother had gone to sleep in his bed, but he remained asleep in the car, according to preliminary results of the investigation.
His brother would be left with the car keys while leaving the doors not locked. After a while, the doors automatically closed, trapping the occupant.
It is unclear when it would come out of his sleep. The car bears the traces of a failed attempt on his part to try to break a window.
In the house, his relatives were not worried about him, thinking he had gone to bed in his room. It is late afternoon, only that they began looking for him.
The gendarmes in charge of the investigation said they had conducted tests on various models of the same car manufacturer: when the car is locked from the outside, if the keys are not in the cockpit, you can not open the vehicle, even by pressing the release buttons, they found.
No reaction could be obtained initially by the manufacturer.

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