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Emotional Affection For Automobiles 31

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Top Gear Season 13 Ending – Aston Martin V12 Vantage HD (via YouTube)

In a recent comment on a Grist article, I was accused of being “jealous” of a proud owner of a Ford Mustang with a 5.0 liter V8 engine with over 400-HP Ford Mustang (labeled as a “penile extension” by another commenter).

I responded:

“the fact that you believe owning a Ford Mustang could induce jealousy in anyone, let alone me, is in fact quite amusing”.

Which led to the recollection of a fascinating film production in the closing season of a television show I have never heard of called “Top Gear”.

The film features a crisp luminescent sun glistening through swift blowing clouds, with impeccable green grass covering miles and miles of untouched natural land, with mountain peaks poised in the background.

The poppy flowers, the birds chirping, the sparkling water wallowing around the rock; this video was produced to imbue fervor, sadness and an unyielding sense of being at one with nature, making the viewer feel a natural attachment with the V12, 500HP Aston Martin highlighted in the film.

The film serves to surface an emotional attachment to the automobile by exploiting our inherent human attachment to nature and converging that natural human affliction with a man-made motor vehicle that, frankly, is quite the opposite of nature itself.

Narrated by the driver of the Aston Martin in a soothing British accent:

Well, it’s an Aston Martin Vantage with a V12 engine. So what do you think it’s going to be like?

It is fantastic. It’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

What it makes me feel like, is sad. I just can’t help thinking that thanks to all sorts of things, the environment, the economy, problems in the Middle East, the relentless war on speed – cars like this will soon be consigned to the history books.

I just have this horrible, dreadful feeling that what I am driving here… is an ending.

Goodnight

This film can bring out emotions in someone who has no attachment to motor vehicles. That is the point. That is how people become so emotionally attached to the hunks of steel that sit in their garage in our car dependent society.

Perhaps I am jealous after all. Jealous that our car culture can pull together 62 people (I counted, twice) to create this 4 minute and 50 second film to inspire you and formulate these emotions in you. This was a calculated and measured manipulation of your mind that indeed does make me jealous.

If only we put this amount of resources into stimulating emotions for things that are actually good for ourselves and the natural environment that was so shamelessly exploited in this film…

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://daddyridesbikes.blogspot.com/ Matt

    I actually enjoy Top Gear, even though I don’t plan to ever spend much money on a car… they’re quite irreverent (and British), which I enjoy. A lot of car guys/magazines/shows take themselves way too seriously – and these guys don’t. They also (sometimes, anyway) cater to those of us who have more average salaries by doing reviews and tests on cars we can actually afford.

  • http://daddyridesbikes.blogspot.com/ Matt

    I actually enjoy Top Gear, even though I don’t plan to ever spend much money on a car… they’re quite irreverent (and British), which I enjoy. A lot of car guys/magazines/shows take themselves way too seriously – and these guys don’t. They also (sometimes, anyway) cater to those of us who have more average salaries by doing reviews and tests on cars we can actually afford.

  • http://waronthemotorist.wordpress.com/ Joe D

    Here you go, this is the bicycle equivalent (and equally unrepresentative of what most people actually get to enjoy on their bicycles): http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/11/double-diamond.html

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    I enjoy Top Gear. One of the hosts, Richard Hammond, is an urban bike guy who believes bikes are better suited to city transportation than cars are.

    And you’re right on about the tremendous time and effort invested into manufacturing an emotional bond for the motor vehicle.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    I enjoy Top Gear. One of the hosts, Richard Hammond, is an urban bike guy who believes bikes are better suited to city transportation than cars are.

    And you’re right on about the tremendous time and effort invested into manufacturing an emotional bond for the motor vehicle.

  • http://waronthemotorist.wordpress.com/ Joe D

    Here you go, this is the bicycle equivalent (and equally unrepresentative of what most people actually get to enjoy on their bicycles): http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/11/double-diamond.html

  • Kamus

    The most spectacular thing about Top Gear over the years has been that is it produced by the BBC with License-payers money – meaning that no advertiser has ever been allowed anywhere near the show, or its content or commentary. (However the same is true of any BBC show ;) Think about that for a moment – these presenters can truly say whatever they want – and they always do. When faced with a car they don’t like – it’s hilarious. Just search YouTube for “Top Gear Prius Review” – or “Top Gear Cool Wall” :)

    But this also means that no car manufacturer anywhere dares to refuse sending their cars to Top Gear to review. If they refuse, the rest of the car press is all over the assumption that there is something to hide.

    I appreciate your message here Jim. But I must hold you to order on a small-ish point. The 62 people listed in the credits (I didn’t count them – taking your word for it) are not all necessarily involved in the making of this one film. They are the 62 people credited with having worked on the 1 hour episode, at the end of which this film was presented. Each 1 hour episode of Top Gear typically features 4 or 5 such short films on a couple of car-related topics. Admittedly with this particular one they really did save the best for last.

    On the emotional connection, yes indeed, there’s something I simply cannot explain about the roar of that V12 echoing off those hills that just instantly brings me out in goose bumps.. (especially a couple of moments when it can clearly be heard bouncing off the rev limiter) .. but quite honestly, my reaction to seeing the glory of the English countryside is exactly the same.. they are both beautiful in different ways – but judging by my common reaction I’d bet money that they trigger the same or similar primitive parts of my beauty- seeking brain.

    Hope you’re enjoying your trip!

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Hey Kam, I can completely understand the appreciation for motor vehicles. I was something of a car fanatic growing up. In my early teens I had a subscription for several years to Motor Trend and even though I mock someone for suggesting that I am jealous of a Ford Mustang, there was a point in my life that I would have been jealous of a Ford Mustang.

      What I compare myself now to is someone who quit smoking cold turkey and is now repulsed by the thought of cigarettes. I guess over the years I discovered the dirty truths and “externalities” that result from our obsession with cars and perhaps that is why I am now repulsed by a V12 engine.

      There is no question that the machine in that video is a beautiful work of art – as is the English countryside. I guess when I see a V12 engine all I can think about is the oil pumping out of the ground in the Middle East to power that beautiful vehicle. It also makes me think about how rarely people would ever get to experience driving through that wonderful scenery, so images of dirty exhaust fumes from bumper-to-bumper traffic come to mind ;)

      Hope you and the family are doing well. Things are going well here in China.

      • Kam

        Hi Jim – thought I’d check back to see if I’d ruffled any feathers :)

        I can’t let one particular point lie – the one about “how rarely people would ever get to experience driving through that wonderful scenery”. I feel this is entirely representative only of your particular situation. You live in the core of a big city, so it is indeed rare for you to enjoy being in the country. Certainly that situation is shared by many – but you present it as if it is a hurdle for everybody. It’s simply not. Many of us choose to live on the outskirts of cities and small towns for precisely this reason. The beautiful open conjestion-free countryside is literally on our doorsteps to enjoy whenever we want. It’s a choice. I chose to live on the outskirts of Leeds in West Yorkshire, on the very doorstep of the moors – resplendent in waterfalls and flocks of … sheep :P .. I now live on the edge of Durham, with the Oak Ridges moraine clearly visible from where I sit typing this. If you cannot easily access the country it is largely because of the choices you make yourself. I can say this because I believe you and I share many of the same life-constraints and opportunities, being in the same line of work, and similar family situation etc.

        Do the car marketeers use this as a lure? Sure they do .. or did. But the example you used wasn’t made by any marketing deparment :)

  • Kamus

    The most spectacular thing about Top Gear over the years has been that is it produced by the BBC with License-payers money – meaning that no advertiser has ever been allowed anywhere near the show, or its content or commentary. (However the same is true of any BBC show ;) Think about that for a moment – these presenters can truly say whatever they want – and they always do. When faced with a car they don’t like – it’s hilarious. Just search YouTube for “Top Gear Prius Review” – or “Top Gear Cool Wall” :)

    But this also means that no car manufacturer anywhere dares to refuse sending their cars to Top Gear to review. If they refuse, the rest of the car press is all over the assumption that there is something to hide.

    I appreciate your message here Jim. But I must hold you to order on a small-ish point. The 62 people listed in the credits (I didn’t count them – taking your word for it) are not all necessarily involved in the making of this one film. They are the 62 people credited with having worked on the 1 hour episode, at the end of which this film was presented. Each 1 hour episode of Top Gear typically features 4 or 5 such short films on a couple of car-related topics. Admittedly with this particular one they really did save the best for last.

    On the emotional connection, yes indeed, there’s something I simply cannot explain about the roar of that V12 echoing off those hills that just instantly brings me out in goose bumps.. (especially a couple of moments when it can clearly be heard bouncing off the rev limiter) .. but quite honestly, my reaction to seeing the glory of the English countryside is exactly the same.. they are both beautiful in different ways – but judging by my common reaction I’d bet money that they trigger the same or similar primitive parts of my beauty- seeking brain.

    Hope you’re enjoying your trip!

  • John Rawlins

    In case anyone was wondering, the gorgeous music on the video was An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno on Apollo (2005).

  • John Rawlins

    In case anyone was wondering, the gorgeous music on the video was An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno on Apollo (2005).

  • Richard Johns

    I’m glad I’m not the only cyclist who’s a Top Gear fan! I don’t own a car, and resent their choke-hold on our cities, but a car like the Aston Martin are fantastic, aren’t they?

  • Richard Johns

    I’m glad I’m not the only cyclist who’s a Top Gear fan! I don’t own a car, and resent their choke-hold on our cities, but a car like the Aston Martin are fantastic, aren’t they?

  • http://twitter.com/LoveloBicycles icycleliverpool

    I’m a petrolhead and cyclist, I love cars, I lust after some, the noise, the acceleration, the looks. But having owned a few quick cars in the UK came to the conclusion that fast cars and the UK just don’t mix that well. I recently saw a Ferrari 458 Italia a couple of miles from my house, so pretty, so aurally pleasing, but it looked like a tiger in a zoo. Completely out of place and miserable for being in a restraining environment. Top Gear is ace though.

    You can read about my journey from bike to car and back to bike… http://lovelobicycles.blogspot.com/2012/02/giving-up-your-car.html

  • http://twitter.com/LoveloBicycles LoveloBicycles

    I’m a petrolhead and cyclist, I love cars, I lust after some, the noise, the acceleration, the looks. But having owned a few quick cars in the UK came to the conclusion that fast cars and the UK just don’t mix that well. I recently saw a Ferrari 458 Italia a couple of miles from my house, so pretty, so aurally pleasing, but it looked like a tiger in a zoo. Completely out of place and miserable for being in a restraining environment. Top Gear is ace though.

    You can read about my journey from bike to car and back to bike…http://lovelobicycles.blogspot.com/2012/02/giving-up-your-car.html

  • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    I don’t know much about Top Gear other then hearing the name on occasion. The video does seem fairly similar to those car commercials where people are doing 60-80km/h on *empty* city streets…They would never want to show bumper to bumper traffic.

    As for the Grist comment…I posted a comment on electric cars being taxed. I said electric cars are a step in the right direction but still don’t solve problems cities are facing, which is congestion.
    The same person who commented to you responded to me by saying: “Or don’t live in a city!”
    Of course living out of a city, relying on a car to get in will surely solve congestion :

    • Nauris

      They do speak about bumper to bumper traffic.
      In Latvia Lexus had an ad saying:”In traffic jams you can drive for X km only on electricity”
      It was an hybrid car ad.
      And now some other company have ad saying something about how much fun they car is in slow traffic (music etc.)

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    I don’t know much about Top Gear other then hearing the name on occasion. The video does seem fairly similar to those car commercials where people are doing 60-80km/h on *empty* city streets…They would never want to show bumper to bumper traffic.

    As for the Grist comment…I posted a comment on electric cars being taxed. I said electric cars are a step in the right direction but still don’t solve problems cities are facing, which is congestion.
    The same person who commented to you responded to me by saying: “Or don’t live in a city!”
    Of course living out of a city, relying on a car to get in will surely solve congestion :\

  • http://www.fullfat.ca Octavian

    You know, sometimes you can be a bit over-dramatic, just like this short clip.
    I am a car lover. Actually, I am a lover of anything that has been engineered to perfection: a Ferrari 599 engine, a hand-made bicycle wheel that weighs practically nothing, or a Rolls Royce jet engine built to micrometer specifications. These are all things I love. I love them not because of commercials or short films. I love them because they signify perfection.
    In many ways, nature also signifies perfection. The beating of my heart is perfect. The contractions of my muscles are perfect. The way a tree breathes or the way a sunflower follows the sun is also perfect. I love all these things also.
    Sometimes it’s ok to love something, just for it’s perfect qualities.

  • http://www.fullfat.ca/ Octavian

    You know, sometimes you can be a bit over-dramatic, just like this short clip.
    I am a car lover. Actually, I am a lover of anything that has been engineered to perfection: a Ferrari 599 engine, a hand-made bicycle wheel that weighs practically nothing, or a Rolls Royce jet engine built to micrometer specifications. These are all things I love. I love them not because of commercials or short films. I love them because they signify perfection.
    In many ways, nature also signifies perfection. The beating of my heart is perfect. The contractions of my muscles are perfect. The way a tree breathes or the way a sunflower follows the sun is also perfect. I love all these things also.
    Sometimes it’s ok to love something, just for it’s perfect qualities.

  • Nauris

    They do speak about bumper to bumper traffic.
    In Latvia Lexus had an ad saying:”In traffic jams you can drive for X km only on electricity”
    It was an hybrid car ad.
    And now some other company have ad saying something about how much fun they car is in slow traffic (music etc.)

  • Otto K.

    Consistent with the recent Clint Eastwood “Halftime in America” Superbowl advertisement, there is clearly a tradition of emotional connection to automobiles — whether orchestrated or ‘natural’ to the producers of the expression (as is the case here, it seems).

    That emotional connection should probably not be scorned, ridiculed or questioned. Rather, there is likely a way to flip it and apply that same emotional connection to non-automobile forms of transportation — albeit, a bit more challenging to show a bus rumbling through a city with the same message of freedom and open spaces as something like this one. But there is a way – one that connects to the realities of driving. Certainly bicycle culture is on the ascent – and it is definitely about emotions, as others have noted here.

  • Otto K.

    Consistent with the recent Clint Eastwood “Halftime in America” Superbowl advertisement, there is clearly a tradition of emotional connection to automobiles — whether orchestrated or ‘natural’ to the producers of the expression (as is the case here, it seems).

    That emotional connection should probably not be scorned, ridiculed or questioned. Rather, there is likely a way to flip it and apply that same emotional connection to non-automobile forms of transportation — albeit, a bit more challenging to show a bus rumbling through a city with the same message of freedom and open spaces as something like this one. But there is a way – one that connects to the realities of driving. Certainly bicycle culture is on the ascent – and it is definitely about emotions, as others have noted here.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Hey Kam, I can completely understand the appreciation for motor vehicles. I was something of a car fanatic growing up. In my early teens I had a subscription for several years to Motor Trend and even though I mock someone for suggesting that I am jealous of a Ford Mustang, there was a point in my life that I would have been jealous of a Ford Mustang.

    What I compare myself now to is someone who quit smoking cold turkey and is now repulsed by the thought of cigarettes. I guess over the years I discovered the dirty truths and “externalities” that result from our obsession with cars and perhaps that is why I am now repulsed by a V12 engine.

    There is no question that the machine in that video is a beautiful work of art – as is the English countryside. I guess when I see a V12 engine all I can think about is the oil pumping out of the ground in the Middle East to power that beautiful vehicle. It also makes me think about how rarely people would ever get to experience driving through that wonderful scenery, so images of dirty exhaust fumes from bumper-to-bumper traffic come to mind ;)

    Hope you and the family are doing well. Things are going well here in China.

  • Xingtaiht

    Bicycle[url=http://www.xthtcy.com]Bicycle[/url]

  • Azhar

    Automobile is been reached to the top level. All because of consumer demand and revert.
    http://www.heromotocorp.com/

  • Kam

    Hi Jim – thought I’d check back to see if I’d ruffled any feathers :)

    I can’t let one particular point lie – the one about “how rarely people would ever get to experience driving through that wonderful scenery”. I feel this is entirely representative only of your particular situation. You live in the core of a big city, so it is indeed rare for you to enjoy being in the country. Certainly that situation is shared by many – but you present it as if it is a hurdle for everybody. It’s simply not. Many of us choose to live on the outskirts of cities and small towns for precisely this reason. The beautiful open conjestion-free countryside is literally on our doorsteps to enjoy whenever we want. It’s a choice. I chose to live on the outskirts of Leeds in West Yorkshire, on the very doorstep of the moors – resplendent in waterfalls and flocks of … sheep :P .. I now live on the edge of Durham, with the Oak Ridges moraine clearly visible from where I sit typing this. If you cannot easily access the country it is largely because of the choices you make yourself. I can say this because I believe you and I share many of the same life-constraints and opportunities, being in the same line of work, and similar family situation etc.

    Do the car marketeers use this as a lure? Sure they do .. or did. But the example you used wasn’t made by any marketing deparment :)

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