The nice thing about getting into a car, back in the day when I first got into a car is that it was like a fork:  everything about it was self-evident, and it was easy to use (hold the end without the pointy bits, stab your food with it and convey said food to your mouth).  It even allowed for different styles of use, e.g. the American (hold the food still while cutting it into baby-sized pieces, then transfer fork to right hand, slide the fork under the food and shovel said food into your mouth).

I pass no judgment about the American way other than it’s fucking stupid and it’s the way a child eats.

Anyway, the same methodology applied to a car of an earlier era:  you open the door with the handle thoughtfully attached to the outside, get in and sit down;  then insert key into ignition and turn the engine on, put the car into gear, release the handbrake and off you go.  (A couple of steps have been omitted for sake of brevity.)  Then when you get to your destination, you pull up the handbrake, turn off the car, open the door with the handle thoughtfully supplied, and get out to go to the pub.

None of the above required a user’s manual or anything other than a thirty-second explanation from an adult.

Compare that simple procedure to this concatenation of silliness:

Jeremy Clarkson was test driving a brand-new Maserati MC20 when he and Lisa decided to drive the motor to their local pub, where they were planning to indulge in a fish pie, but the couple soon realised they couldn’t get out.

Jeremy said: ‘We were in the car and five minutes after that we were in the pub’s car park. And five minutes after that we were still in the pub car park because neither of us could find anything that even remotely resembled a door handle’.

‘Eventually I turned on my phone’s torch and found the little button that you must press to unlatch the door, and then we were out.

‘And then I was back inside very smartly because the car was starting to roll down a hill.’

After finally discovering a button that activated the handbrake, Jeremy thought he had fixed the issue only to hear ‘bonging noises’ when he got out of the vehicle.

‘After an hour of swearing and wondering out loud whether it would have been easier to stay at home and make a soufflé out of ant hearts, I called a colleague, who said that to engage ‘park’ and turn out the lights I had to stop the engine twice.

‘So I pushed the button to turn the motor off, then pushed it again. Which caused it to start. I then called the colleague again, who said that when I pushed the button the second time my foot had to be off the brake pedal. And he was right, which meant that we just caught last orders.’

Let’s hear it for Technology!

As Longtime Readers all know, I have a long and abiding passion for Maserati cars, despite the dreaded which causes fits of laughter among American engineers and drivers.

Now imagine that same applied to a system which (nominally) controls the “hand”-brake and door-“handle” functions, in addition to lights, mirrors, windshield wipers, turn indicators, window- and trunk controls, ignition, transmission and (gawd help us) onboard computer.

Compared to this mobile disaster area, even my old Fiat 124 looks like a dream come true.

Manual everything — gearbox, ignition, doors, windows, seats, rearview mirrors, turn indicators, trunk opener and even, on occasion (!), windshield wipers.

All this modern shit?  You can stick it.

Even for an MC20.



  1. My Cadillac 2017 ATS-V is a bit like that. I ordered it with the manual transmission and the first day I stalled it in traffic. Put it in neutral and hit the start button and nothing happened. Fumbled around with irate drivers behind me until I discovered that the starter wouldn’t engage unless the clutch pedal was depressed. Drivability issues like that are a minor irritant compared to service. I like to wrench on my rides but there is little fun working on a modern vehicle for me. There is a never-ending multitude of nonintuitive fasteners and connections that need special tools and special knowledge to navigate and modern vehicles are assembled by machines without consideration for the mechanics trying to effect repairs. I’m fortunate to have a pair of old trucks to do my wrenching.

  2. Not to worry Kim. You won’t even be able to start next year’s model unless the on board scanner detects a man bun, a pair of skinny jeans, and a Democrat party membership card. I remember bump starting a friend’s VW bug with one guy running the clutch and two others pushing. I was the skinniest so I was the clutch man.

    1. Three people?
      I clutch-started a Chevy S-10 many times by my 135lb self as a young man, until I had enough cash in hand and free time to change the starter motor.
      No way a VW bug weighs more than that.

      1. Most people make the mistake of using too low a gear for clutch starting. Doing that is nearly as bad as hitting the brakes, as you are fighting too much compression strokes in too short a time frame. Third gear tends to be better, but experimenting with different gears may help.
        The technique needed isn’t always obvious. Sometimes you need to pop the clutch and leave it engaged for a bit. Other vehicles may need it to be popped for a split second to get the engine to start spinning and then disengaged to allow it to fire up and reach a running speed. Practicing different methods may be needed.

  3. Sorry, most of the post went over my head because this phrase left me gob smacked: “to indulge in a fish pie”.

    Ok, so that’s some kind of British sexual kink, right? Because there’s no way in hell that it’s an actual food item people eat in anything other than the direst extremities of starvation. I was going to do an internet search on the phrase but decided I’d be better off not knowing.

    1. Fish pie? Delicious in any of a thousand variants. We’re an island with a long coastline; we eat fish.

      As long as I don’t cook it, mind.

  4. My Hybrid Lexus is like that. I need to double check to be sure it is actually off before exiting. Fortunately, it also won’t let me lock it until it is completely off. PAIN IN THE ASS. Adds a few minutes to everywhere we go.

  5. You’re absolutely right. The bells and whistles on my 2019 Tacoma are nice but I’d trade the all in a heartbeat for my 02 Tacoma back with less “helpful” technology. I like the controls on the dashboard to be tactile. Too many of the radio controls are on a touch screen. I prefer the 4WD to go back to being a stick rather than a knob that activates a solonoid etc. The 2019 sure rides nicely though. I might have to buy two or three more cars in my lifetime and I’m dreading them. On top of the technological move backwards, I’m sure one or more of my future cars will be partially or entirely electric and that don’t want those at all. I want a truck with a good gas tank for good range, refuel in less than 10 minutes so I can have a stretch of the legs then continue on my journey.


  6. A couple features I would like to see returned to cars:
    Door locks on both sides of the car
    My 82 VW Rabbit had a feature where you couldn’t lock the door when it was opened so you had to use the key to lock the door when you got out. Never locked my keys in the car so I’d like to see that feature on more cars.
    Manual mirrors, door locks, windows, manual transmission etc

  7. Kim, I too share a Maser compulsion.
    Almost bought a 150S out of a junk yard when in HS when it was still a recent race-car – but for once, heeded the better angels in my life.
    The MC20 though, stirs my soul; BUT
    the thought of having to search in the dark for a small, inconspicuous button to push just to open the door from the inside……
    The designer should be consigned to a 20′ container where entry and exit is by the same systems that he devised for the Maser, without ever seeing them in operation, and of course, no lights inside the container.

  8. I keep away from the emotion of hate. Seems to me it damages the hater more than the hated. That said, I loathe touch screens whether in my car, phone, ATM or anywhere else.

  9. My 1st ride was a 1972 Dodge half-ton pickup purchased for a song at a Washington State Dept of Natural Resources auction. Drove & wrenched it for a long time. 318 V8 & I could get my entire slant eyed Polack ass into the engine compartment. These days you need a PhD just to change the goddamned plugs.

  10. England has a long and sordid history of stuff, eaten, that would turn an american’s stomach. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. They are on an island. Eat or die. I get it. I would just note that there is no such thing as an ‘English Restaurant’ in the US to my knowledge. There are Irish restaurants, Scot restaurants, but no ‘English’ restaurants.

    And Kim, you could be the official importer of ‘bush meat’. I dunno why I can’t get wildebeest roasts here. I can order one from Ole Blighty but nose bleed expensive doesn’t even start.

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