COTD: Joy never stops edition

Germans aren't renown for their wistfulness, at least after they've digested their teenage dose of Ranier Maria Rilke. Yet German automakers have gripped their history and nostalgia in a way that surpasses even the American penchant for yoostabee-ing. This film by BMW Classic is a perfect example; it's nigh impossible to image Ford shooting something similar with a Mustang II owner, or Chevy embracing the idea of a hipster-ish Nova owner who just can't give up his car, even when on the verge of heat stroke and girlfriend exit. (Let's not broach some of the other choices in this film, like the snotty ad exec brain that decided a chicken-hooded AMC wasn't cool. Does FTD still sell the Go Fuck Yourself Bouquet?) It's even harder to predict which cars today might be the source of our future fond memories, but pauljones took a stab in his reply to the tease of a new Chevy Malibu:

Hey, I like the looks of the current Malibu. It's not the Adriana Lima of cars by any means; but, then, what short of an Aston Martin really is? What it lacks in the design sensuousness present in Aston Martins, it makes up for with simple, understated elegance and solid reliability. It's like the wall flower girl at the local club; sure, she's not as hot as that knock-out on the dance floor that has eyes for every guy that walks in the door. Sure, she has a slightly awkward manner and her outfit isn't as wild and attention-grabbing. But she's still cute. She's also smart, easy to approach, easy to trust, and easy to get along with. She may not be everything you've ever fantasized about, but she's everything that you need, and whether you realize it or not, everything that you actually want. Like that wall flower girl, the Malibu is everything you need and everything you really want, and it's far from hard on the eyes.

Want proof? Just check the sales numbers.

Hell, I even liked the previous Malibu. Yeah, they were about as attractive as Paris Hilton (which is to say, for me at least, not very); but it wasn't quite the bridge troll that previous Camry was, or the squid-face that the previous Taurus was. But, hey, it came in wagon form with SS trim and suspension and a paddle-shift four-speed automatic that, in combination, was so wrong in so many ways that it was somehow right, and also inexplicably interesting.

As for the rest of the mid-size market, the Fusion is a very attractive car, and, unless I missed something, it's also American. Being a cousin of the Fusion, the Mazda6 is also an attractive car that is surprisingly fun to drive. The new Optima is indeed a sharp looking car, though I'm on the fence about its cousin, the Sonata. The new Passat, while plain, is at the very least a well-integrated, understated design that may never look stunning, but at least it won't look horrible, either. The Altima may not have much in the way of driving character, but visually, it has it's own identity (that the Hyundai may not have copied, but was certainly inspired by), and it works well. The Subaru Legacy is the sand-bagger of the bunch, being completely as completely unassuming as the Malibu or Passat, but offering a surprising amount of capability, not to mention "individualist" cred. The Accord and the Camry remain bloated, half-melted soap bars on wheels. And the less said about the Avenger and Sebring/200, the better. Also, something about a "Galant". Not quite sure what a "Galant" is yet. Maybe someday it will figure itself out and enlighten us.


pedal to the mettle

I respectfully and completely disagree with this. For one, the car/woman analogy doesn't work for me. I would never want a car as complicated as my wife, and I'd never want a wife as simple as a car.

A Malibu isn't everything I need, it's a much more car than I need. And it's definitely not everything I really want. To pretend I was content with a big, FWD, automatic sedan would be denying my desires, denying a part of my identity.

Why should I care about sales numbers? Even if 300 million people think a car is really great, that doesn't mean I will agree.

Bad cars are like bad movies. People enjoy them in ways their creators never intended. But if I had to choose between watching The Godfather or Snakes on a Plane, I'd choose the former every time.

There may come a time in my life when a mid-size sedan (or preferably wagon) is what I need. And if that time comes, I'm sure I'll enjoy that car and even grow fond of it. But in the mean time, I'm going to drive a car that meets my needs but still gives me the maximum amount of enjoyment I can get. I had a GTI with the DSG. It was a great car, I loved it, but it was a compromise that I didn't need to make and I got bored with it. So, I traded it in for an MX-5 back in October and I don't regret it one bit.