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.