Good news, everyone! It’s Thursday! Actually it’s currently Wednesday and I’m writing this early so I can walk around Monterey car week and gawk at vehicles valued higher than the entire economy of Charleston, West Virginia. This is normally the point where I’d tell you to follow me on Twitter for pictures, but I think we can both agree you’re too clever for that.
Anyway: the thing I do on Fridays (but Thursday this time) here at Jalopnik is I answer questions from readers in a segment I like to call Letters to Doug. Actually, I don’t answer questions. I answer question. Singular. I root through all the e-mails you’ve sent me, usually numbering between 1 and 4 plus some spam for used tires, and I pick the very best one. Then I answer it in this brilliant, detailed, well-executed, highly thoughtful, tremendously exciting response. And then you tell me why I’m wrong.
If this sounds appealing, remember: you can always participate in Letters to Doug by sending me an e-mail at Letters2Doug@gmail.com. I cannot promise I will pick your letter, but I can promise I may forward it to my friends so we can laugh at your idiocy.
Anyway: this week’s letter comes to us from a guy named Ricky, who lives in Sunnyvale, California, home to the world-famous Sunnyvale Public Library, the Sunnyvale Public Park System – which features literally sevens of acres of xeriscaped desert area – and the Sunnyvale Convention Center, which has routinely played host to the annual convention of Pacific Coast Tissue Box Suppliers. Ricky writes:
This week you talked about Camouflage, Camels, tennis balls, Vietnam War, Geckos and Neeners.
You said “If you’re launching a new SUV, as Jaguar is, the last thing you want is for someone to see it two years early. Here’s why: because there has never been a car in history that people believed was handsome when they first saw it. This is a phenomenon I like to refer to as People are idiots.”
With that in mind, is there a car that has been released that everyone likes? Think hard and think deep. There are usually people who don’t like the way something looks, but there has to be one car that everyone says wow or that’s cool. There has to be one.
I know there are critics and skeptics, but there are some things that are universal, like watching someone fly in front of you. You will either say wow, be amazed or shocked. But you would not say big deal if your the first person to fly without the aid of anything.
Who knows... 1966 AC Cobra 427? 2014 458 Italia? 1954 300SL? 1961 250GT California? 1965 E-Type
There has to be one car......
Thank you Doug,
Home to Sunnyvale High School, which routinely sends students to excellent universities such as Sunnyvale Community College, and of course Sunnyvale Juvenile Detention Center Learning Annex
(I may have made up the thing about the high school -Doug)
(And the learning annex -Doug)
I have to admit, ladies and gentlemen, that I got a lot of really good letters this week, and it was really hard to pick one. For instance: some guy wrote in asking why people bother to buy the Volkswagen Touareg. I was already writing another hate-filled Volkswagen diatribe in my head, ready to go on a tangent about how it’s way too expensive, and poorly marketed, and inexplicably positioned, and BY GOD WHY THE HELL DOES ANYONE BUY THE TOUAREG, when I saw it: Ricky’s letter.
For those of you who don’t want to read a letter written by the product of an excellent Sunnyvale education, allow me to highlight the key parts. Last week, I wrote about how most people hate most new cars when they’re first shown. Now, Ricky is asking whether there are any cars that are universally liked by everyone.
When I first read this e-mail, I got up, and I paced around my little AirBNB, and I thought about it, and I looked outside, and I noticed the lock is kind of flimsy, and I thought some more, and I came to a conclusion: the air conditioning in here is broken.
Also, I decided that no, there are not.
I started with sports cars. Everyone likes a Ferrari, right? Well, no, I didn’t really like my Ferrari all that much, and neither do those guys whose Ferraris burned to the ground because they accidentally made the gas tank out of balsa wood.
OK, so what about the Corvette? Well, a lot of people think those are for fat Americans who have no idea what handling is, or what refinement is; people who think “POWER” is the answer to everything. And then you have the my mother segment, who would get in a sports car and say: this is just SO hard to get into and it rides SO rough and it’s SO annoying to see out of and why do you NEED a car like this …
So forget about sports cars. What about mainstream cars that are very popular? Well, there’s the Toyota Camry. Which we, collectively, as Jalopnik, hate with a burning passion that goes well beyond the hatred even business travelers have for Go-Go In-Flight Internet.
So what about the Volkswagen Beetle? Well, it’s cute, and it’s endearing, but it was born out of the Nazi regime and it’s probably the least comfortable, least safe, worst-performing car of its era. Err— except for the other beloved European “peoples’ cars,” like the Mini, the Fiat 500, and the Citroen 2CV.
Well, what about something that’s too unique to hate? Like the Hyundai Equus? Well, I don’t think many people hate that car, but it isn’t exactly universally loved, or even really universally known. If I walked around Monterey Car Week asking strangers about their thoughts on the Hyundai Equus, I think they would have one general response: Aren’t you that idiot who does those poorly produced YouTube videos with a stapler microphone?
So maybe something really off-the-wall, like the Isuzu VehiCROSS? Unfortunately, I think that’s the same situation: not enough people care about the VehiCROSS for it to be universally loved. I think the best we can do is universally not hated.
And so, to answer your question, Ricky, no, I cannot think of a car that everyone loves. I think the old adage is true: you can’t please everyone. Too boring and you piss off the enthusiasts. Too old and you piss off the safety-conscious, or the reliability snobs. Too exciting and you piss off the traditionalists. Too weird and you fly below the radar. The best you can hope for is to be loved by most people.
Unless, of course, you can come up with a universally loved car and prove me wrong.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.