Objects In The Rear View Mirror

The originalReading in my Sunday newspaper supplement I noticed that most of the ads for concerts and the like comprised of ancient creaking relics from the past like The Moody Blues, A-Ha and the Drifters. It seems that these acts can still fill auditoria and turns like the Rolling Stones – who are literally as old as the hills – can still pack a stadium. What passes for pop and rock these days is turned out by pre-packed, ready-to-eat solo singer/songwriters, refugees from appalling TV talent shows or weedy bands with no oomph and tidy hair.

This proves two things conclusively. One, that contemporary music is short-term pap and Two, that things were better in the olden days. Which moves me neatly onto budget, older or classic cars.

It has been brought to my attention that one car manufacturer is working on an infra-red device that operates the rear window wiper every time the driver looks at the rear view mirror. Furthermore, not only is it activated by a glance from your eyeball (even if you’re wearing shades), there is also a sensor on the back window to detect if the glass is just dirty or is being rained on. If it is the former then the washer is deployed. Clever eh?

Cutting edge technology is appearing on our cars at an astonishing speed as nerdy boffins all around the world come up with vital ideas for stuff that nobody actually needs. For example, call me a nostaligist (I think that’s a made-up word) but never once has it occurred to me to think when I glance in my mirror and understand the need to see out of the back window, that what I really want is a bit of kit that removes from me the onerous task of flicking a switch.

Where will it end? Increasingly, thanks to the mindless eco-zombie culture of the EU, our cars are being fitted with all manner of high-tech stuff to, it seems, save us from our stupid selves. We are no longer trusted to operate machinery properly but have to be nannied through every aspect of our motoring lives.

Certainly, some good things come from it; Bluetooth for example. This enables us to stream our tunes without having to fiddle with CDs and so on. Mostly though, it’s all getting a bit boring; just like the cars themselves. This was pointed out by a colleague a while back as a reason for his disenchantment. To this end he has treated himself to an older sports car which brings to him the driving fun he craves only without all the extraneous bells and whistles.

At the time of writing this my press car for the week was a Suzuki Swift – of which more next week. Although a budget buy it still has the usual safety kit, air-con, cruise, Bluetooth, sat-nav and steering wheel controls, all of which are useful; but without any of the unessential gizmos that abound these days and just add weight. The result is a light car that is not quick but is fun to drive nonetheless and does the job nicely. It even has a rear-screen wiper that you operate yourself. It works a treat.

Okay, so this is another one of my anti-tech diatribes but I make no apology. Increasingly and for many reasons it makes sense to me for car owners to start thinking about buying the inexpensive, uncluttered small cars that are so simple and easy to drive or maybe a classic car that won’t cost a fortune but will put the smile back on your face. Now, where did I leave my Moody Blues cassettes?

Geoff Maxted