Inspired by Patrick Kurp's current posting on his difficult relationships with the cars in his life, I've been reflecting on my own fondness for the things. I've always been fascinated by them and by how their personalities are determined by quirks of design and color, as with any other artifact with artistry in it: the royal blue of the classic French cars, for instance, or the classic Racing Green of the Brits, as in my own Jaguar S-Type (shown above). The Italians favored red, the Germans silver. Many of my memories are centered on cars. I grew up in Europe, where the attitude toward driving, at least in my youth, was less utilitarian than in America (where owning a car was less of a big deal, back then), and more inclined to displays of status, and/or sportiness, especially for those who could only afford a humble Renault Dauphine, for instance, or a boxy little Simca 1000, on both of which I honed my driving skills--and if you haven't driven a rattling, jolting Simca 1000 down an icy mountain road into a blizzard, you haven't lived. (French Jura, 1974.) Or a Fiat at top speed along the autostrada. (Milan-Rome, 1972.) They were driven, those cars, and so were their drivers. Some of us still are.
Full disclosure, or true confession: I've been reviewing cars for many years, and have an archive over at Autosavant. I take comfort in the fact that Rudyard Kipling and John Updike shared my autophilia (?), and Beckett had a Citroen he dearly loved.