Paint Chips, Vehicle Options, and Straight Jackets

Have you ever tried to pick out a paint color for a room? Even better, have you ever tried to pick out the perfect white, to paint a room? You will lose your damn mind. I’m sure there are some that see a chip and in one second that’s the color they pick. But for the rest of us, it goes from “Oh, this will look nice,” to “Ahhhhh WHY ARE THERE TEN-THOUSAND WHITES?” in a matter of minutes. Picking cars can be the same way.

Sometimes I wish I was not that into cars, that I was one of those people who saw something on the road and said, “That looks cool, I’ll buy one of those,” or “That is reliable and good on gas, sounds good to me.” But I can’t be one of those people, none of us here can. For us vehicle selection is a much more complex, muddled, and often disjointed process; a tangled web of vehicle specs, style, history, lineage, driver connections, the list goes on...

I find myself being totally irrational about how I view vehicle trim-lines and options. I will give one car a pass for not having a key feature but I won’t do the same for another. Take for instance my obsession with getting another wagon. A BMW wagon with an automatic is a deal-breaker for me, but an Audi Avant is not. However, an Audi Avant automatic without the sport package is a deal-breaker but a BMW wagon with a stick but no sport package is fine.

Here is where it gets even weirder...I can forgive the Audi w/sport pkg for being an automatic because: a) it looks so damn good and b) it is still fun to drive and c) it was never available with a stick. I cannot forgive an automatic BMW because I know the stick exists, I guess if I bought an auto BMW wagon, I would forever be in self-doubt for not holding out for a manual. I cannot forgive the Acura TSX wagon for being an auto, despite my Audi logic that a manual was never available, this is probably because it is FWD, and not all that quick. I could however forgive the FWD and the not all that quick if I could get a manual trans in the Acura. Have you alerted the men in the white coats yet?

There is also is this odd perception of what we think a cars “character” should be. In my mind, wagons should be AWD but RWD is ok, FWD maybe, but it would really depend on other stuff (Mazda6 manual wagon with diesel, I’m good) . When I think Audi, I think AWD, when I think BMW I think RWD. So, a BMW wagon with AWD doesn’t excite me too much. Maybe this is why so many folks got worked up by the new GT3 with the PDK only, in our heads the GT3 is the “pure Porsche” and “pure Porsches” should have manuals. But I the more I view the car and the more I learn about it, I find myself coming around on the whole no manual thing. But then again I will never be able to afford a GT3 so it really doesn’t matter.

This notion of character and options also speaks to what I call “The V6 Muscle Car Effect,” as Jalops we know the true “character” of a muscle car means V8 power. No matter how good the V6, or other motor is, it is hard to justify in our crazy heads not getting eight-cylinders. Of course there are some sane folks who will get the more rational choice and be fine with it. If I was in the market for a muscle car I could not be one of those people.

I guess what it really comes down to is these strange priorities, what I am willing to give up but get in return. I don’t really want to give up shifting but would be willing to do so for something that gives me a lot in return such as style, comfort, and performance.

So maybe we will all lose our minds; at least choosing a car is more fun than painting a room. What automotive lunacy racks your brain?