Well, I’m sitting here in a hotel in Arizona (Scottsdale) awaiting the Ford People. Drinking coffee to prepare to deal with them. That is, banter with them politely about the transitory perfection of the new Ford Edge. Which like all new vehicles is – for a moment – the returned Christ incarnate. The PR people enthuse – and hope we (the assembled automotive press) swoon. It has “cutting edge” technology; the most fantastic engine lineup imaginable. It is the apotheosis of mechanical, stylistic and intangible excellence. Until the next update, of course. And the competition has its own ideas.
It’s a weird dynamic. They – the car companies – fly us out to a really nice place on their nickel. All expenses paid. This encourages a polite reception for the new car being presented. There is no explicit quid pro quo, Clarice. But the new guys seem to know what’s expected.
And me? I am regarded uneasily. They know I am generally favorably inclined toward machinery, internal combustion especially. And yet they know perfectly well what I think about the new “sells” – the Mom Cult stuff. Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety! I didn’t bother attending the demonstration of the new Ford Edge’s ability to back itself into – and out of – a parking spot. It makes me teeth ache and I told them (the Ford People) so. I accept with resigned equanimity the arrival of the idiot-proofed, self-driving car but mourn the death of the art of driving and general interest in such. I will not write about the Edge’s ability to self park.
Five years, perhaps. I think that’s about all the sand that’s left in the hourglass. These ride and drive events will be over soon because there won’t be any need to fly guys like me out to drive cars that drive themselves. You can sit in a seat just as well as I can.
It’s a weird and strange and arguably unhappy nexus that’s approaching. Some will embrace it, which is probably the smart move if only because it’s the practical – the only – move.
What else are you gonna do, after all?
As for me? I count myself among the lucky. Back in ’95 Ford gave me a Cobra R for a week. SCCA competition model. Last of the 351s. Five-speed Tremec manual. No AC. No radio. I took it Banzai! style through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel at 148 MPH, the pulses of the 351 Windsor reverbing off the white-tiled walls.
The new Edge’s 2.7 liter twin-scroll turbo’d Ecoboost V6 has more horses than the 351, but no heart, no soul.
It is a brilliant appliance (they all are) but a dead thing, compared to the now-antique (almost) ’95 Cobra R.
Like me, too, I suppose.
Sic gloria transit mundi.