A small thought on cars

It's slightly mad but people generally seem to be saying something about themselves when they buy a partcular car. I drive a very humble 2004 Toyota Echo and I believe that says something about me -- or my Presbyterian upbringing: "Waste not, want not". I actually feel proud of my good sense in making my journeys at minimal cost in quite acceptable comfort. And the Echo is very zippy and I like zipping.

So why do people buy cars more expensive than mine that certainly get them there no faster than mine? I think ONE motive is to seek praise and admiration. An expensive car shows how rich the person is and he thinks that should be admired.

Problem. That doesn't seem to work:
Car envy is causing bad behaviour on Queensland roads, researchers have found. A University of Queensland study revealed that nothing gets drivers' blood boiling more than the sight of someone in a fancy car trying to push into the queue.

PhD student Redzo Mujcic and economics professor Paul Frijters analysed the behaviour of 1000 Brisbane commuters at selected intersections and roundabouts. Commuters had the option to let someone from a side road enter the main road.

"People compare themselves to others and the perception of status has an impact on how commuters behave," Mr Mujcic said. "The study showed that drivers in cheaper cars were quite unlikely to stop for drivers of luxury cars."

The study found drivers of the cheapest cars were least likely to let another driver merge ahead of them, with the drivers of prestige cars only slightly more courteous. The most thoughtful drivers were those who owned vehicles of average value.


So what should an admiration-seeker do? I discovered the answer to that quite by accident. As a conservative I rather like old things so some years ago I bought myself a 1963 Humber Super Snipe -- a grand old English car. It is a bit unreliable so I take it out only once a week for a longish drive but whenever I do I get heaps of praise and admiration! I get what the Ferrari driver wants! And the Humber cost way less than a Ferrari does. It just goes to show what all conservatives know: Life is complicated.

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