Is it possible for something to be brain-fossilizingly mundane and yet absolutely fascinating at the same time? This 1993 BBC documentary, about company cars and the executives and sales reps that drive them, does exactly that. You’ve got to hear what these ‘90s era badge-obsessed dipshits think of some remarkably dull cars.
The documentary, posted by reader Borsuq in Oppo today, is called From A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring. It’s presented in a very detached manner, which gives it a feeling of something almost anthropological — we’re getting a glimpse into a very specific culture, at a very specific time, and it’s almost incomprehensible to outsiders.
The status associated with these salesmen and executives’ company cars appears to be an all-consuming part of their lives. The cars in question are, to our eyes, bland, forgettable, early 90s Sierras and Granadas and Vauxhall Cavaliers and Astras and the occasional Peugeot. A couple Mercedes and BMWs in there, too. But to these men, these cars—and their tiny details—are everything.
For some reason, having an ‘i’ on the car’s badge—usually referring to the fact that the car has fuel injection—is a huge deal to these guys. One guy even called it “the ‘i’ factor.” With a straight face.
There’s a guy here who thinks map pockets are very important. There’s another guy so status-obsessed, he’ll let someone pass him, obsequiously, if their car has headlight washers. Fucking headlight washers!
The same guy will also refuse to let someone with a base-spec car pass, saying:
“Ain’t no way I’ll let somebody go past in a base.”
An actual human being actually said that, and meant it.
There’s a guy who cried with his wife when he got a Maestro for a company car. These people worry that they have a badge on the fender instead of on the tailgate, where more people can see the level of car they have. There’s a guy who de-badged his Mercedes-Benz 200e so it wouldn’t harm his status by having a low-spec Benz.
They also talk a lot about if they hang up their jacket in the back or not, and what sort of hangar they use, and what it says about them.
These people are fucking insane.
At first I thought it was a parody, or possibly long-form performance art, but I don’t think it is. It’s just a peek into an incredibly insular, status and badge-obsessed hell of boring cars and the stuffed shirts who drive them.
Now, I admit, I can get pretty obsessed by car details as well, but, somehow, I feel like it’s different. Dear god, I hope it’s different.
Watch it. It’s fascinating. And dull. But fascinating.
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