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Thread: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    I think we really are getting too lazy for our own good. And our laziness is driving up the cost of cars, too.

    It all began reasonably enough, in the '80s - when minivans first came out with automatic sliding doors. Now, a minivan's doors are heavy - and minivans are by nature kid-carts - so power sliders made practical sense. Not unlike cordless phones. Both are genuinely useful; and more critically, neither adds a level of complexity or expense high enough to make you waste more time learning how to work it/dealing with it/fixing than you gain in the way of convenience.

    After this, it began to spill out of control, phone-wise and car-wise.

    Now we have auto-cinching windows, power trunk closers, automatic self-starters, rearview cameras and monitors so we don't have to bother ourselves to use the mirrors or turn around to look for ourselves, self-parking cars, park sensors that beep and screech if you don't notice you're about to bump into someone, laser-assisted cruise control that accelerates (and even brakes) the car for you, menus and mice and LCD displays and all the rest of it.

    A power trunk closer? No wonder our arms are flabby... . And what was wrong with turning a key to start the engine? The electronic-assisted version takes more time to work, is more hassle to work - and you'd better believe it'll be more expensive (a lot more expensive) to fix when it finally goes kaput. Which of course, it will.

    What's the deal with all this frou-frou?

    We've convinced ourselves we need all this stuff that we really don't because we're completely in thrall to the advertising/consumerist juggernaut (you are what you buy!) that increasingly defines modern America. Like a rip tide, most of us just get dragged along - and eventually just swim with the current like everyone else seems to be doing.

    Consider cell phones. Most people do not need to make a phone call (or receive one) every couple of minutes. Or even every couple of hours. Most of us could (and did!) function just fine without being "reachable" (and reaching others) at every moment of the day, in our cars - and out of them. We certainly don't need video players in our phones. Do we?

    The essential functionality of a telephone has been transformed into an over-teched, overly-complex and overly-expensive gadget that only incidentally performs the basic task for which it was designed.

    Just like modern cars.

    TV advertising shows a guy driving the Nurburgring in Germany in the latest sports car at 100 mph, tail-sliding through the corners - or an SUV (piloted by a suitably rugged looking guy) climbing Pike's Peak. But most of us use are cars for the mundane task of transportation; we may like to think of ourselves as Speed Racer or whoever the king of four-by-fouring is right now - and the PR/advertising industry has done a remarkable job of helping us buy into this fantasy - but the reality is mostly "a" to "b" at not much faster than the posted limit. We need our cars to get us safely, reliably and in reasonable comfort to and from. That's it, when you strip away the "test driver on closed course - do not attempt" hype.

    Air conditioning, a nice stereo, power steering, brakes - and maybe air bags and ABS. Maybe. These things comprise the genuinely useful improvements in car amenities/features/safety that have been commonplace since the 1980s. Add the durability/reliability advances of the past 20 years and you'd have just about the perfect car.

    But that's not enough - for most of us, anyhow. Or more to the point, it wasn't enough for the car industry (and its advertising/PR arms), whose aim is to convince us that we "need" this or that piece of equipment, feature or technology; that whatever we buy today is obsolescent tomorrow. Gratuitous excess has become the point.

    Like, for instance, a power trunk closer.

    The aggravating part is that resistance is futile - or nearly so Price-padding stuff that is optional on high end cars one year becomes standard equipment (along with a newly standard increased MSRP) on "basic" cars a couple of years later. It is now virtually impossible to avoid electronic traction control or ABS, for example. Even the cheapest new economy cars come standard with power windows and door locks - whether you want 'em or not. Ad yes, there are a few souls left out there who don't want 'em.

    The growing kudzu of GPS technology surely portends a day, not too far off, when every new car will come with an onboard transmitter/receiver - which will almost certainly be used for much more than simply giving you directions. But we're dazzled by the glowing aura of the LC display - enraptured by His Master's Voice coming from the OnStar box.

    The one out still open to those who still believe in closing their own trunk, using their own eyes to see what's behind them before backing up, who can live without automated ignitions or a computer that slows the car down for them automatically - and who enjoy the challenge of mastering parallel parking without assistance, remote view cameras or buzzers and flashing lights - is to buy something old. Update it with a few modern improvements, such as an overdrive transmission and maybe fuel injection. Skip the rest.

    You'll save yourself a lot of money - and even more aggravation!


  2. #2
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    Trunk closers have been around since at least the 1980s, maybe even longer.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Trunk closers have been around since at least the 1980s, maybe even longer.
    I recall the ones that sort of "auto latched" (as on the Lincoln Mark VII) so you didn't have to slam the trunk closed yourself - but I can't remember any from the 1980s that raised and lowered via electric motors... did I miss one?

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Trunk closers have been around since at least the 1980s, maybe even longer.
    I recall the ones that sort of "auto latched" (as on the Lincoln Mark VII) so you didn't have to slam the trunk closed yourself - but I can't remember any from the 1980s that raised and lowered via electric motors... did I miss one?
    Oh, they do that now? Yeah, I was thinking of the auto latch thing.

  5. #5
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    First one I recall was the trunk on the early 90's Cadillac DeVille.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    This article has been posted on the main site:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...6&Itemid=10919

  7. #7
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    Reading your thing on 'Self Closing Trunks', brought back some memories on the old Cadillacs. Back in the fifties, Caddy did have self locking trunks. I don't think they were around before that. Buick on the other hand, did, in a way, have a self starting engine. You just put your foot down on the "FOOT FEED", and the engine started. "AMAZING". The automatic head light dimmer, now that's a device that should be in ALL cars. Seems like here in Central Oregon, most cars lose their ability to dim the darn lights. The same with Turn Signals, they quit working too. I agree with the foo foo that seems to be pushed on us, whether we want it or not. No wonder there are more wrecks than ever before, It's not because there are more cars on the raod, it's bacause we have more "STUFF"to deal with. I thought it was bad enough to see someone wheeling down the Hyway, doing their hair, shaving, putting on makeup, reading the morning paper, and so on. Now we get to "play" with the GPS, watch last nights The Simpsons, ( I don't watch, so I don't know how it's spelled, ha". We can also 'fiddle' with the 'sticky stuff' the kids left on the seats a week ago. And if you just bought that new car just a day or two ago, just think of all that fun you're having, messing around with the 'stuff' you read about last night.... :

  8. #8

    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    Eric,

    Agree and disagree. Very, very pro ABS. Have a 2006 Designer Town Car, and frankly LOVE the trunk lid feature. Just push a button in the cabin and it opens and closes. Can also do it from my key fob. Thought it was foolish when I bought the car, but have found it to be very useful at work. I have to make deliveries of our product, and all I have to do to is double press the key fob, the lid raises, and I don't have to put down my stuff to open the trunk.

    Here's my beef(s):

    Voice activation, which simply refuses to understand me, forcing me to take my eyes off the road to press buttons for the radio/navigation system.

    Why is my speedometer on the left of my instrument panel, and my tachometer on the right side? Seems, and is, counter-intuitive.

    Finally, here's an blast from the past. What the heck happened to the floor dimmer switch?? Using the turn signal stalk causes a delay in reaction time and is cumbersome. I miss my 1979 Chevy Silverado for that one reason.

    Hawg

  9. #9
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    As I understand, The dimer switch relocation came about through the proposed "American Disabilities Act". And I have heard some say that the relocation of the dimmer switch made it easier for all, short or tall, to be able to "dim" the lights without hunting for the switch on the floor. Which ever story that may have had an impact on it, I know that GM had some real problems when they first came out. Seems like a lot of people were having trouble get their foot separated from the steering wheel after dimming their lights.

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    "Agree and disagree. Very, very pro ABS."


    But it's a lot harder to do those 90 degree, lock-'em up/cut the wheel hard right Smokey and the Bandit-style turns!

    "Have a 2006 Designer Town Car, and frankly LOVE the trunk lid feature. Just push a button in the cabin and it opens and closes. Can also do it from my key fob. Thought it was foolish when I bought the car, but have found it to be very useful at work. I have to make deliveries of our product, and all I have to do to is double press the key fob, the lid raises, and I don't have to put down my stuff to open the trunk."

    I can see that....

    "Voice activation, which simply refuses to understand me, forcing me to take my eyes off the road to press buttons for the radio/navigation system."

    Can't stand this feature, either -

    "Why is my speedometer on the left of my instrument panel, and my tachometer on the right side? Seems, and is, counter-intuitive."

    Seems to be no rhyme or reason for this; some are left/right, others the opposite...

    "Finally, here's an blast from the past. What the heck happened to the floor dimmer switch?? Using the turn signal stalk causes a delay in reaction time and is cumbersome. I miss my 1979 Chevy Silverado for that one reason."

    This one has been the subject of extended discussion here - and rants on my part, too!

    I hate the stalk-mounted dimmer; love the floor switch, as on my '76 Trans-Am!

  11. #11
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    I recall my 1957 Jaguar 3.4 had a bonnet (hood) which rose nicely when unlatched with finger-pressure.

    This car had almost no plastic, and the hood was raised with the technological tour-de-force of two large springs around the hinges.

    It had drum brakes, last of the model with them, and iffy-handling, but almost the same engine won Le Mans... and the cigarette-lighter and bench-style front seat offered every amenity for social interaction.

    I must be getting old...

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Spending money we don't have ... on things we don't need

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    I recall my 1957 Jaguar 3.4 had a bonnet (hood) which rose nicely when unlatched with finger-pressure.

    This car had almost no plastic, and the hood was raised with the technological tour-de-force of two large springs around the hinges.

    It had drum brakes, last of the model with them, and iffy-handling, but almost the same engine won Le Mans... and the cigarette-lighter and bench-style front seat offered every amenity for social interaction.

    I must be getting old...
    You and me both!



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