Our cars provide a glimpse into the American psyche


I’ve been wondering about something. Here in small town America, when I walk downtown, I see swarms of pickup trucks parked outside the coffee shops and restaurants, especially the ones that cater to the older citizens on a tight budget, like McDonalds (Mickey D is huge with old retirees) and a local homestyle restaurant, DeToys. These are massive vehicles to ferry their owners a few miles to a cheap eatery, where they emerge looking like shriveled pot-bellied cowboy-wanna-bes on stick-like legs, where they hobble in to scrape change out of their pockets to buy a cup of bad coffee off the dollar menu. They make me look young and spry and sensible. Note that I’m not complaining about them being old and poor — if anything, we should take better care of the elderly — but the jarring incongruity of these people driving around in something that’s a small step down from a monster truck.

I don’t quite understand the mindset behind their priorities. All my life I’ve been getting the smallest car I can fit the family into, and my kids will testify to that…perhaps bitterly, as they recall family vacations in cramped vehicles. I aspire to someday have a car that is shrunk down to just big enough to hold me and my wife, gets phenomenal gas mileage (EV, preferably), and has good safety ratings. That’s all I want in a machine that I use to move from point A to more distant point B.

But then, it turns out I’m un-American.

Car companies…knew what people really wanted: to project an image of selfish superiority. And then they sold it to them at a markup.

The picture they painted of prospective SUV buyers was perhaps the most unflattering portrait of the American way of life ever devised. It doubled as a profound and lucid critique of the American ethos, one that has only gained sharper focus in the years since. And that portrait is largely the result of one consultant who worked for Chrysler, Ford, and GM during the SUV boom: Clotaire Rapaille.

Rapaille, a French emigree, believed the SUV appealed—at the time to mostly upper-middle class suburbanites—to a fundamental subconscious animalistic state, our “reptilian desire for survival,” as relayed by Bradsher. (“We don’t believe what people say,” the website for Rapaille’s consulting firm declares. Instead, they use “a unique blend of biology, cultural anthropology and psychology to discover the hidden cultural forces that pre-organize the way people behave towards a product, service or concept”). Americans were afraid, Rapaille found through his exhaustive market research, and they were mostly afraid of crime even though crime was actually falling and at near-record lows. As Bradsher wrote, “People buy SUVs, he tells auto executives, because they are trying to look as menacing as possible to allay their fears of crime and other violence.” They, quite literally, bought SUVs to run over “gang members” with, Rapaille found.

Another obvious contrast is that most of the SUVs and trucks I see are clean and shiny, maintained for the prestige. They are not working vehicles. I’ve seen real working vehicles: when I was a kid visiting my uncle’s ranch, they had a beat-up old pickup, rusted and filthy, that we’d load up with hay bales in the morning and drive out over the rocky sagebrush-covered fields to scatter food for the cows. That was not a truck you’d drive into town, not unless you were desperate to get away. Most of the people driving these things are demonstrating some warped status-seeking behavior.

Car companies marketed SUVs towards these people with advertisements featuring SUVs dominating roads, climbing boulders, and other extreme feats even though, by the auto industry’s own research, somewhere between one and 13 percent of SUV owners actually drove their vehicles off-road, and most of those who said they did considered flat dirt roads “off-roading.” In other words, auto companies spent billions of dollars on marketing every year to nudge people to buy over-engineered, inefficient, and expensive vehicles in order to allay irrational fears far out of touch with the lives they actually had.

This cynical marketing worked stunningly well. In 2019, the seven best-selling vehicles in the U.S., and 13 of the top 20, were either pickup trucks or SUVs (pickups, of course, now incorporate many of the same marketing tropes as SUVs from the early 2000s). According to the Detroit Free Press, pickups and SUVs now account for 60 percent of new vehicle sales.

Perhaps no vehicle exemplified this trend more than Hummer. Owned by AM General until GM bought the brand in 1999, Hummer embodied a specific time and place in the American psyche that embellished the SUV persona of overcompensation for insecurity and fear.

Michael DiGiovanni, a GM market researcher who persuaded GM to buy Hummer and ended up running its Hummer operations, told Bradsher the $100,000 vehicle was marketed to “rugged individualists” who were “people who really seek out peer approval,” a delicious irony considering how much other road users loathe Hummers. Like their general SUV-owning brethren, few used the vehicle for actual off-roading.

They aren’t even safer than my tiny little Honda! There’s an 11% greater chance of a fatality in an SUV than in other vehicles, despite their larger size.

Now I’m wondering if the reason I’m not interested in a gargantuan truck is that I watch very little commercial TV, so I don’t see the advertising, and the online targeted advertising I do get doesn’t even try to interest me in buying small tanks. If you watch Fox News, are you more likely to want the biggest metal box you can buy to protect yourself from the Urbans and Immigrant Hordes?

Comments

  1. says

    At this point, there are many things that would get me labeled as un-American… I wouldn’t have guessed that driving my 22-year old truck into the ground was among them. Which I bought years ago when I was moving around more and getting into woodworking.

    Cars are what get me from place to place, beyond ease of use and a modicum of comfort for me and my family, I don’t see the point in spending so much.

  2. killyosaur says

    While I am sure that it is true, I’ve personally always liked the look of pick-up trucks, which is why I owned one for several years. I only switched to something smaller when I moved into Detroit as a truck is a bit much for city living :P

  3. F.O. says

    I’m in short sleeves in February. In Sweden.
    Australia is burning.

    We are still doubling down on consumption, on fossil fuels, on exploitation and keep blaming foreign faces for every problem.
    We are fucked.
    We are completely, utterly, loudly, proudly, enthusiastically, fucked.

  4. aspleen says

    One of my pet peeves about SUVs and big honkin’ pick-up trucks is that their gargantuan size makes the rest of us less safe in a collision with them. But they’re o.k. and that’s what counts! The same applies to ultra-bright headlights that blind others on the road so they can see better, and since ultra-bright lights burn out sooner the manufacturers can sell more. w00t!

    Then there’s the fact that because of their elevated center of gravity, these big honkin’ trucks are more likely to flip over guardrails, killing their occupants. Of course we can’t have that, so guardrails are being raised and the taxpayers of course are footing that bill. Pick-up trucks didn’t used to be so large and high and they still don’t need to be.

  5. says

    It’s not old geezers I notice driving fancy pick up trucks, it’s younger people who treat them like overgrown coupes. Paying for them is one of the things that is pushing up personal debt rates in Canada.

    Some older folks drive SUVs and other high riding vehicles because they’re easier to get into. We drove my dad’s Dodge Neon to bits, and before we sent it to the scrap heap my parents were starting to find it harder and harder to get into. My aunt owns a van because it’s easier to get into for her, and can carry her walker. She’s not driving anymore, having decided her health isn’t up to it, but kept it so her family can use it for driving her around.

  6. brucegee1962 says

    If your theory about fear of crime is correct, there ought to be a large correlation between SUV ownership, gun ownership, and Republican voting. This strikes me as likely.
    I wonder if anyone has done a study.

  7. Bruce Fuentes says

    I do have a big vehicle and I will explain why. Maybe it is justification but there is a reason. First of all, my wife drove a Prius for over 10 years. We got rid of it last fall when it hit 200k miles. It was still getting over 40 mpg, but the inside was getting tattered(2 boys, now 10 and 13) and parts were falling off the outside. We looked at getting a Prius AWD, as we live on a country dirt road that is not on the list of first to be plowed. My wife has had some issues with snow and her car the last couple years. She is a dedicated family practice doc that has to try to get into the clinic if it is open(drives me crazy what she attempts to drive through). Almost always it is fine, but sometimes not so fine. The problem with the AWD Prius is it was new last year so no used available and new technology needs a couple years to work out bugs. Also, Toyota does not offer satellite radio on any AWD Prius trim levels. They suggested streaming through phone or aftermarket crap to stick on dash. First of all streaming on phone is not an option. Who wants to chew through data and as we live in the country cell signals are spotty at best. Other option is ridiculous. I want something stuck to the dash of a new car with wires running around? We went with a Subaru Legacy. Cost less than AWD Prius, one year used and still 35 or so mpg.
    I drive a Dodge Durango V8. Crappy MPG’s. The reason for this vehicle is that we have camper. We have towed it to Maine and back and go to state parks in MN, WI and the UP of MI. This year going to the Porcupine Mountains in the UP for a week. I need to tow 4000 lbs of camper and carry 5 people and all the stuff we need for a week of camping. This is my daily driver too. I drive probably 4 days a week. My only other option was to buy a dedicated tow vehicle and a smaller daily driver. Then we would have to take two vehicles when we go camping. Looking at everything the economics of 3 vehicles is just not good. I did not mean to make this sound like a justification, but to explain the thought process in us buying a big vehicle. It was not an easy choice. We spent a lot of time agonizing. Of the crossover choices the Durango was the only thing made that could tow and haul what we need to tow and haul. It was amazing what we saved in buying vehicles that are a year or too old. The Legacy was less than a year old with 9k miles and we saved 12k off the original sticker price, so probably about 10k. The Durango was also a year old and was 16k off sticker price so saved over 10k on that I figure. I do not see the sense in buying brand new. The only car I have ever bought brand new was the Prius.

  8. says

    Personally, if I had money and wanted to show off with a nice car, I’d go for some sleek and aerodynamic electric car. I know hardly anything about cars (I don’t even have a driver’s license), but I have gotten an impression that this is what gets perceived as fancy in Europe. For me big cars feel like something a poorer person would use when they actually need to get work done. I associate wealth with not needing to drive through mud and being able to hire others to work for you.

  9. Bruce Fuentes says

    I find this statement the most stunning

    “rugged individualists” who were “people who really seek out peer approval,”

    If you “really seek out peer approval” that makes you not a “rugged individualist”. But then again cognitive dissonance is a hallmark of american values.

  10. benedic says

    To 8 Andreas
    The SUVs have been a must in London for Achieving Moms to drive their brood to school and are known as Chelsea Tractors.

  11. littlelocomotive says

    If you watch that Simpsons Canyonero video on Youtube, you will notice that the comments have been disabled. Do you suppose someone was seriously offended?

  12. kestrel says

    I’ve seen some of these new pickup trucks – they are definitely not made for traveling off-road. We had a new neighbor get very badly stuck in a very bad place in a brand new pickup, and when I went to pull them out with my truck, there was NO TOW POINT on that truck! I checked online to see if we just couldn’t see it, but no, it’s really not there – some of the owners of the truck were saying they had to have tow points welded on to the truck! That truck would be stuck there yet, but fortunately a guy came by in a tractor and was able to get behind the truck and lift it up from the back bumper, so we could get ramps under the tires. Now, I live on a farm and grow hay and raise livestock. I have one of those old beater trucks. These new trucks are more like what I would call “Ken and Barbie” trucks – they are toys. They look nice etc, but are not very functional. I never did see the point, myself… perhaps fear explains it. But it could also be ego or greed; not really sure.

  13. Dave says

    I recently gained insight into the appeal of the SUV, something not mentioned in the article. I normally drive a 15-year-old Honda Accord Hybrid, but we rented a Chevy Subdivision (or some such SUV, I forget the exact model) in a move from Toronto to New Jersey. We needed the space to accommodate three cats in their travel containers plus luggage and other things not going in the moving van. Once I got used to driving something that large, I found that towering over the rest of traffic gives a sense of power and control that is intoxicated. In city traffic, you can see far enough down the road to choose the fastest lane, and on the highway no one tries to cut you off. They give you a wide berth. I would never buy one, but I now understand the visceral appeal of such monsters.

  14. stroppy says

    Lots of oversized SUVs and pick-ups around here, shiny black with Trump bumper stickers — goddamn puffed up road hogs with way too much attitude.

    Of all the permutations of stupid we’ve generated, runaway car culture has got to be among the biggest. A-holes rolling coal and fuel for the constantly erupting ulceration in the White House.

  15. miserybob says

    Is it actually true that SUVs have higher fatality rate? Where does your 11% stat come from? I’ve long suspected that SUVs are safer for the driver, but more dangerous for everyone else on the road and that it reflects a particular selfishness on the part of SUV/American drivers.
    I’m not really qualified to evaluate the statistics or methods of this study, but I found this http://www.accessmagazine.org/fall-2002/suvs-really-safer-cars/ article interesting.

    “Midsize and Large Cars and SUVs. The risk to drivers of average midsize and large cars is about the same as for the average SUV. The risks differ in their makeup, with a higher fraction of fatalities in SUVs from rollovers. Similarly, the risk to drivers of the safest midsize and large car models (Avalon, Camry, and Accord) is about the same as for the safest SUVs (Suburban, Cherokee, and Tahoe). However, the average SUV poses nearly twice the risk to drivers of other vehicles as do the average midsize and large cars. The net result is that the combined risk of the average SUV (129) is about 25 to 30 percent higher than that of the average midsize (105) or large car (100).”

    That, at least, seems to confirm my bias!

  16. says

    <sarcasm> It’s not the Honda that’s “tiny [and] little.” The suburban assault vehicles and pickups are mostly airquote-compensation-airquote for… something else (gender notwithstanding)… that’s tiny and little. </sarcasm>

    So are the gun racks. Or, in some parts of the country, banjo racks (right out of Deliverance).

    One also might consider the poor size, shape, and accessibility of the cargo area on a sedan, acknowledge the premium typically paid for a hatchback over a sedan (when a hatchback is even offered, or in practice available — just take a look at used car sales availability to get an idea!), and suggest that the larger cargo compartments on a suburban assault vehicle and pickup are also “compensation,” but this time for something that really is tiny and little. Back in the late 1970s, I think it was, Consumer Reports downgraded a couple of higher-end sedans because their aerodynamically- and style-friendly sloped trunks could not hold full paper grocery bags (remember those?) upright. More recently, most sedans cannot contain IKEA/Target/etc.-style KD furniture kits (let alone a previously assembled five-foot-high bookshelf) while still holding two adults, meaning that just outfitting a student apartment requires a rental vehicle! Ironically, this is one of the things that the Prius did: It made hatchbacks acceptable again, and not uncool-if-slightly-updated Gremlins/Pintos…

  17. voidhawk says

    @17, I guess you missed this bit: “Another obvious contrast is that most of the SUVs and trucks I see are clean and shiny, maintained for the prestige. They are not working vehicles. “

  18. George says

    Bruce: That was my fist thought. Just a wee bit of a disconnect between “rugged individualists,” and “people who really seek out peer approval.”

  19. says

    My wife’s vehicle is a hybrid Toyota Rav IV. But she is four and a half feet tall and uses crutches. She says she likes to be able to see out and see the road, which she really can’t do with smaller cars. In this case I heartily approve, especially when I’m the passenger.

  20. microraptor says

    In addition to all the things already discussed, I see a lot of big trucks and SUVs around here that have been modified for rolling coal.

    For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s an illegal modification of the vehicle’s engine and exhaust system that causes it to burn fuel less efficiently with the flip of a switch, causing it to emit large clouds of thick, black smoke. This is the point of the modification, and it’s used as a weapon against people who are riding bicycles or driving in smaller, fuel efficient vehicles.

    Yeah, these people are deliberately lowering the gas mileage of their vehicles and decreasing the lifespan of their engines as a means of directly attacking liberals or anyone they perceive as possibly being liberal.

  21. Bruce Fuentes says

    Up here in rural NW Wisconsin, most people that have big pickup trucks have no real need for them. I know a handful of people with them that have never used the bed for anything but hauling groceries. I shake my head when I see SUV’s without trailer hitches. I see no need for something that big that can not tow. A person I know of with a very big truck says he would never tow with it. Seems he is afraid to hurt it.

  22. aspleen says

    I remember camping with our family of five in a station wagon back in the 1960s, pulling a pop-up camper behind us all the way to Yellowstone and back. It’s possible to have a smaller vehicle like my wife’s Dodge Promaster cargo van that can haul a small camper behind it and still have room inside for three kids and plenty of stuff, while getting up to 27mpg on the road. Automakers have been steadily increasing the size of pick-ups by stretching their cabins to accommodate passengers, and at first shortening the bed behind the cabin, but now they’re just increasing both the cabin and the bed and the result is a pickup that requires two parking spaces. Sometimes more actually isn’t better.

  23. mnb0 says

    Not only in the USA cars for many men are extensions of their penises. You can see too many SUVs in The Netherlands as well and I just mentioned the only possible reason.

  24. says

    This is not to say that there aren’t legitimate reasons to own an SUV or truck, but those reasons aren’t so universal that the best selling vehicles in the US should be SUVs/trucks.

  25. unclefrogy says

    there is another not mentioned reason the car companies like to sell SUVs there is I have read the fact that because of various regulations and standards the profit margin is much better on trucks and SuVs then sedans. they cost less to build then sedans
    I have been driving a pickup for many years but it is mostly a work truck hard to put lumber or cement and sand or other tools and equipment in the backseat of a nice low millage sedan
    uncle frogy

  26. says

    Sadly, many American car manufacturers have announced plans to stop making all of their cheaper vehicles due to the low profit margins; this includes trucks. So getting an actual workhorse truck is going to get much harder because of late stage capitalism! Yeah!?

  27. jack16 says

    @4 aspleen
    The variety of auto lamps is amazing. I think that LEDs are easiar on insects. The plight of insects is a huge environmental issue.
    Another item that I’d like to see rated is the “dazzle factor”.

    jack16

  28. stroppy says

    Rolling coal is not only used to crap on particular passersby. A few years ago a local wing nut radio station sponsored a rolling coal celebration and get-together on Earth Day — with a whole lot of juvenile snot and sneering of course.

    That radio host also ran a live simulcast program on a local TV network station for a while. The width and breadth of willful, despicable stupidity never ceases to amaze.

  29. says

    I drive a Miata in the summer. It is a very small car. I had a guy in a gigantic truck become enraged with me because I got upset that he cut me off when I had the right of way, but he wanted to merge. His whole argument that he was right came down to “but I’m bigger”.

    That tells you everything you need to know about people (most) people who drive gigantic trucks. I can’t tell you how often I look up into me rearview mirror and see nothing but a Chevy or Ram emblem because the fucker in a $70K truck is in a hurry and thinks nobody else on the road matters.

  30. Scott Petrovits says

    I drive a Kia Soul. Yes, my view of the road probably isn’t as good as Bubba in his lifted F150, but my gas mileage is better, my rollover risk is lower, and I don’t look like an idiot who’s all hat and no cattle. The Denver metro area is full of guys with expensive shiny black behemobiles with every combination of questionable stickers (Trump, Punisher, Blue Lives Matter, NRA, Molon Labe) you can think of. Apparently I’m just jealous. Oh, and un-American.

  31. stroppy says

    I worked along side bug haulers when I was a whole lot younger, and the drivers were frank about enjoying the feeling of power they got behind the wheel.

    There were also signs in the front office reminding them that they were professional drivers and had to make allowances for other vehicles on the road– which they did for the most part, but not without complaint.

  32. waydude says

    Oh hey! A car post and I’m an enthusiast. First of all, most people that drive trucks don’t need them or would be better served by something like a Subaru Outback, everyone needs a Golf. The only cars anyone should drive unless they are in construction is a Subaru, for weather and roads, a Golf or similar because it does everything, fun to drive and easy on gas, or if you really enjoy driving, a GTI.
    But we’ve long passed that point, cars are a status symbol, something used to attract attention, and more so they convey literal freedom coming from back in the day when only the wealthy owned horses and then that became common, then cars came along and now thsoe are common. Nothing rams this point home like China. 2o something years ago going to China was crazy but so few cars and so many bikes. Now it’s just insane. Cars everywhere, but lots of people so still bikes. I’m curious what pedestrian and bike fatalities are there it must be horrendous. no etiquette, size and me first attitudes rule. IF you ever think people are bad drivers in the states just go there. Of course, that’s what Europeans think of use lol

  33. says

    I, frankly, hate my truck. Its too big to operate/park in most places around here, gas guzzling, and not able to easily avoid the zippy little cars that don’t understand how inertia works.
    When they have Priusi able to haul a 6000lb trailer and all my crap, I’m all in. Until then, imma go to Macdonalds.

    We’ve considered getting me a little “run around” car but have no place to park it.

  34. waydude says

    Just looked it up, deaths per 100,000 motor vehicles is about 8X worse with Europe the safest and Africa just way way worse

  35. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    And of course, we must cite the lines from Christopher Moore’s “Coyote Blue”:
    “One day I was telling him that I thought that cars had replaced guns as phallic symbols for American men, and I thought it was interesting that he had one that was so small and fast. The next day he gave me the Datsun and went out and bought a Lincoln.”

  36. says

    Last time I checked around here, if you’re buying new, the price of a pickup truck is well below the price of a regular car, and the loan options are often better. (Of course, that’s somewhat illusory because the pickup truck will burn a lot more gas over its lifetime, thus making up the difference, but if people considered lifetime expense over up-front expense, Apple would have trounced Microsoft in the early 90s.)

  37. etfb says

    Greg Egan wrote a short story called The Moral Virologist that you might like, since it’s biology SF instead of the usual pseudo-physics SF, but it got me thinking about how I would use nanomachines to deal with SUVs.

    Picture if you will: manufactured nanorobots scattered about the roads of a city. They latch on to tyres that run them over, and stick. Once they have a tyre to stick to, they begin waiting and counting. For a month, they’re inert, but they monitor their conditions. They check the weight that’s being put on them: if it’s much less or much more than the weight of an SUV, they drop off and hang around on the roads for a different tyre. But if they’re stuck to something that is definitely an SUV tyre, they test the local environment for signs of mud and dirt. If they detect either within a month, that suggests they’re on a vehicle that is actually being driven off-road: a working vehicle. If that’s the case then, again, they drop off onto a road.

    If, on the other hand, they are definitely attached to an SUV, and it definitely doesn’t go off-road and demonstrate a valid reason for being an SUV after a whole month, they go into their final mode: wait for the vehicle to get above some minimum speed, say 100km/hr or the equivalent in your road rules and medieval units, and then explode, taking out the tyre and, with a bit of luck, the entire SUV as well.

    With a little careful planning, this sudden fatal “unreliability” of SUV tyres will mean people will stop wanting to drive the monstrosities entirely. I estimate we’d only need to kill a few hundred wankers for the effect to kick in world-wide.

  38. Arnaud says

    Cormacolinde @#39, did you read the article in L’Obs? The one where, when confronted with the ’embellishments’ on his CV, the Marketing specialist Rapaille explains that he is merely “his own first customer”…

  39. daulnay says

    American truck and SUV consumption are a testament to advertizing. American automakers have been pushing them since an agreement in the 1980s to lift import quotas on Japanese automobiles, while maintaining quotas on trucks and light trucks. In addition, the tariffs on trucks allowed in are higher than those on automobiles. The U.S. automakers have basically stopped competing in automobile manufacture, and now make protected trucks and SUVs.

  40. says

    I drive a small SUV, a Mazda CX-5. The primary reason is that trying to get a sedan into my driveway without scraping something important off the bottom of the car is about impossible. My side of the street is bermed to keep flash flood waters out of the front yards of the residents. We had a serious flood about 10 years ago, and the city put asphalt berms on the downhill side of the street and built up the entrances to the driveways. I made sure I bought one that got 30 mpg, though. Funny, the only time I’ve ever wanted to run somebody over was the pro-Trump demonstration in the extremely christian town at the other end of the Morongo Basin.

  41. rrhain says

    I drive a Mini Countryman…the “maxi” Mini. It’s big enough that I can put my piano in the back. Granted, it’s a spinet-sized electric keyboard, but it’s a full 88 keys and I do have to have the front seat all the way forward. Most of these people who insist they need a giant SUV to carry all their stuff simply haven’t tried to put their stuff in a smaller car. What’s more likely is they don’t want to empty the car between outings but instead use it as a portable hole.

  42. slatham says

    PZ doesn’t watch TV much, but he also reacts very negatively to the just-so-ism of evolutionary psychology. This marketing is based on Rapaille’s expertise on the animalistic subconscious reptilian-brain desires, or whatever, which PZ thinks is total bullshit. This kind of marketing would probably only appeal to people who see the explanations and justifications of evo-psych and think “that makes sense to me!”

  43. wzrd1 says

    @15, many taller SUV’s have a high center of gravity, which tends to cause them to roll more easily.

    @16, I loved having a gun rack in my vehicle. That said, it was a military vehicle and only assigned to me. The rack kept the M16 and later, M4 from being a loose item hazard in the cab of the vehicle.

    @42, to puncture the story, farmers cannot take a proper holiday, lest they have their tires blown off, killing them and their family. End result, no more farmers, cities starve, humanity goes extinct without all of the services and especially medical supplies from the starved out cities.

    Now, my biggest laugh over the Hummer is, the Hummer H1 was an actual military Hummer, kitted out for highway legal usage, with the usual safety components that military vehicles lack (airbags and whatnot).
    The Hummer H2 onward were a Hummer chassis bolted onto a commodity pickup truck frame, making it a less functional pickup truck, for a hell of a lot of money.
    AMC originally intended the Hummer for military, farm and other work where the user would retain the vehicle for much longer than average vehicles were designed to last. So, where the average motor vehicle at the time was designed to last five years, then start nickle and dime one to death, the Hummer H1 was designed to last fifteen years.
    Not so much for the H2, but in the meantime, motor vehicles stopped nickle and dime poverty of owners after five years, lasting a slightly more realistic amount of time before planned obsolescence bites the owner in their driver’s seat.

    My personal preference is for a minivan, which can accommodate my shopping, carry a load at work (say, a dozen 24″ LCD monitors and accessories, without having to unload my usual cargo of spare parts, tools for work and vehicle emergencies, tire pump, jump start box, real jack instead of the homicidal toy jack that comes with vehicles these days and a few odds and ends.
    Alas, my current minivan was rear ended a couple of weeks after I bought it for cash, bending the unibody, fracturing and causing failure of the catalytic converter and now also needs the spark plugs replaced (a four hour minimum ordeal, as one has to remove the intake manifold, breather and breather hose and a few other odds and ends, while being a champion contortionist. And yes, I prefer to do my own work on my vehicles.

  44. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Cormacolinde @39 : I live in Quebec City and remember the hilarious Clothaire Rapaille episode. It happened around the celebration of the city’s 400th anniversary, when the current mayor, Regis Labeaume, got his first mandate. Everybody kept telling the blustering, authoritarian idiot that Rapaille was a conman, but who need the advice of specialists? When his nonsensical “report” came out, it was ridiculed by the press for weeks.

    To this day, if you want to get a rise out of him, you just have to whisper “Clothaire Rapaille” in his vicinity. I wonder why journalists are not constantly doing that. He has been known to treat them with cringe-inducing condescension.

  45. publicola says

    I’m waiting for a small, all-electric pickup for under $20k. But for my second car I want a 1952 Lincoln, completely restored. Yes, I know, “dream on”.

  46. says

    @49: But you, unlike about 90% of civilians who have gun racks, were both properly trained to use those weapons and had reason to have those weapons easily accessible in the cabin of your vehicle.

    Not much need for an AR-15 knockoff or M-4 knockoff in East Central Redneckistan… and no need at all for it to be inside the passenger compartment.

  47. wearsbellsonlegs says

    While drivers of SUVs may be able to see over the tops of smaller vehicles, their view of what’s close by isn’t so good. I remember the more than occasional news items involving infants who got too close. Such mentions seem to have become less frequent. I would hope this reflects a reduction in such incidents.

  48. davidc1 says

    @15 I watch far too much dash cam footage on youtube than is good for me ,but the number of times you see a SUV rolling over after having a little nudge from another vehicle is scary .

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