Americans Don’t Drive….

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That great philosopher Jeff Spicoli once sagaciously noted, “Dudes on ‘ludes should not drive.”

Too bad most American drivers are on ‘ludes. Or might as well be. They dawdle along at just under – or slightly over – the under-posted speed limit. They slow for the mildest of curves; to them,”cornering” is something you do in the commodities market. They routinely tailgate, then drive no faster than the car they just spent 15 minutes tailgating, once they finally get around it. When the light goes green, it takes them awhile to notice. And forget about right on red, even when it’s legal and the way is clear for three football field lengths in either direction.

And yet, they drive cars with 150 MPH top speed capability, three and four hundred horses under the hood, variable cam timing, direct fuel injection, turbos, six, seven and even eight speed transmissions, 17, 18, 19 and even 20 inch wheels, super sticky stiff sidewalled low aspect ratio tires rated for sustained travel at speeds over 130 MPH that will probably never see the far side of 80 for more than a few furtive seconds. Sophisticated four-wheel-independent suspensions, in many cases “active” or otherwise controlled by a computer to continuously adjust themselves to changing road/driving conditions.

Well, the road may change, but the driving rarely does.

Go out and see for yourself.

I drive all sorts of new cars, including some very powerful exotics. But the truth is that I’m usually still passing everyone around me even when I am driving my beat-up old (1998) four-cylinder pick-up. I find myself passing cars with two (and sometimes three) times the horsepower and speed capability; leaving “sport sedans”  in my rearview going “up the mountain” (curves). I’m not driving like a maniac, either. Just a few MPH faster than the posted limit. I run 70 on the posted 55 MPH straight sections and about 5-10 MPH faster than the posted 35 MPH limit going “up the mountain” (curves). But that is fast enough to blow past 85-90 percent of the other cars out there, many of them equipped with powerful V-6 and even V-8 engines, “high performance” suspensions – and so on. I feel just like Spicoli must have as he threaded that T-topped ’79 Z28 through the dozers out on Hollywood Boulevard.

The level of interest in driving  among American “drivers” is incredibly low. Yet they just have to have these massive wheel/tire packages, high-powered engines and the rest of it… . It makes me laugh – and then it makes me cry. And bang my head against the steering wheel. All this power and capability… wasted. Pearls before swine.

Well, to be fair, defeated Cloverites.

Our system puts people in an impossible situation. First, it conditions them from infancy to Submit and Obey – and most people eventually do, out of dreary necessity. They may show some early exuberance – for driving and other things – when they’re young, before the toothless but firm-jawed gums of the system clamp down on them in the form of things like DMV “points” that lead to “surcharges” and – lately – a poorer credit score. And we all know the importance of having a good credit score, don’t we?  The average American is thoroughly beaten down, living in constant dread of The Man.  This makes him nervous and twitchy. Now add an overpressured life and minimal to nonexistent actual driver training in the sense of learning how to control a car and work a car so that you are actually making real use of its capabilities vs. learning to Always Slow for a School Zone and be a “responsible” machine-minder… and, viola.

The American Driver.

Meanwhile, the poor sap is fed a steady diet of images and cultural pressure that lead him to desire a car – and capabilities – he either cannot or will not ever use. But he buys nonetheless and not really knowing what he bought – or what it could do. Think of all the ‘lude-ites out there toddling along in their E and S Class Benzes, their Lexus LSs and Jaguar XJs. Have you ever seen one of these cars “cornering”? Being driven anywhere near 100 MPH? How about 90? (All of the aforesaid models were built to cruise all day at 130-plus.)  Whether as a consequence of defeatist conditioning or just plain ol’ indifference, these cars are like codpieces on wheels – for show, but rarely, if ever, for go.

I’d love to be able to perform an experiment. Take a new BMW 3 or 5 series – any higher-end “luxury-sport” sedan will do. Remove the variable cam timing, direct-injected turbocharged gem of over-done (because under-used) technology under the hood and replace it with a circa mid-1980s Taurus V-6, suitably muffled.

I doubt one out of 20 would notice the difference.

Throw it in the Woods?

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10 COMMENTS

  1. “it is better to ride a slow motorcycle fast than ride a fast motorcycle slow”

    -some random ebay seller

    The term ‘motorcycle’ can be substituted with ‘car’ in this case.

    Most American drivers have their heads up theirs asses so far and are doing so many things up there they haven’t the time to pay attention to stupid things like driving.

    • In America it seems to be what a person can do -while- driving instead of actually driving.

      A fun game I tend to play when I am restricted to the absurdly low speed limits (police activity, recent ticket, etc) is to take curves at the posted speed limit (not the yellow advisory). I’ll be tailgated entering the curve and exiting it the now former tailgater will be -way- behind me. The would then rocket up to my rear bumper once they exited the curve apparently not figuring out that they can’t drive worth a damn. It gets really fun if there are multiple curves fairly close together.

      If anyone hasn’t read it already, I recommend “American Autobahn” by Mark Rask. It’s a bit dated now, but it’s a good read of how things got this way and ideas on how to fix it.

          • The guy filming isn’t all that smart either! ha

            I don’t think the exhaust cares whether it’s above or below the water.. -doh If he could have said intake the video would have been half intelligent.

          • The intake certainly does… and water does just as much damage if it reaches the engine through the exhaust. Since the exhaust on these things is probably U-shaped it’s just a manometer. When the tall leg of the U (outlet) starts having water run into it because it is below the level of the water, it will flood the engine in short order.

            taxpayer money… look at the bright side, they probably weren’t able to harass er ‘help’ any productive people for the remainder of the day.

        • Okay….alrighty then!!! Keep in mind that an officer probably
          told them to engage in this particular brand of stupidity. After all those hummers are paid for with tax money, so who gives a rodent’s rosy red rectum if they destroy the engines. I want a refund on my income tax. And these people are supposed to defend us if the SHTF? Uruguay is sounding better all the time.

          • Dudes in the video.

            guy one: how’s that possible?
            guy two: it’s the Army bro!

            guy two: what the hell’s he doing?

            guy one: he’s got his window open!

            Still makes me laugh!

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