THERE ARE MANY stereotypes in the motoring world, some are there for a reason but there are some that need a bit of a rethink.
Something unusual happened to me the other day; I was overtaken. The mere act of being overtaken was not the real surprise, but it was the circumstances that made me do a real-life, cartoon-style double take.
I was driving along a national speed limit b-road, obeying the 60mph limit when a small, dark red object appeared in my rear view mirror. Very soon it became apparent that this object was a Peugeot 106 GTI, a very rapidly moving Peugeot 106 GTI and it wasn’t long before it was on my bumper and preparing to overtake.
I assume that you are picturing the driver to be some kind of 18-year-old, probably with a hat of the peaked variety and a garish tracksuit. This was what I was expecting too, but as it tore past me I saw that the driver was in fact, a little old man.
And why shouldn’t it be? Sure, the Peugeot 106 GTI is a favourite amongst the type who enjoy large bodykits and hanging around McDonald’s car parks of a saturday evening, but it is also a cracking little hot-hatch. And why can’t an octogenarian enjoy a b-road thrash? I mean, just take a look at Sir Stirling Moss. (below)
This got me thinking about other stereotypes that perhaps, don’t always ring true.
Take the Mazda MX-5, owners of which have had to endure endless hairdresser jokes over the years in order to drive one of the finest sports cars of the last 20 years. Some buyers were probably persuaded by the cute looks, but a quick perusal of the classifieds will unearth plenty with petrolhead-friendly modifications.
The MX-5 isn’t the only car to suffer this fate either, because the Ford Puma and last generation Toyota MR2 (below) both suffer crude remarks from those less well informed individuals, despite all three cars placing highly on ‘top 100 drivers cars’ lists.
One car that has somehow managed to shake off its stereotype in recent years is the BMW M3. The previous generation E46 M3 (below) was a fine drivers car, particularly in CSL trim, but too many were bought by the kind of man you’d see wearing a suit with a garish tie, yellow-mirrored sunglasses and a bluetooth earpiece clamped to their ear. They did not appreciate the M3’s handling prowess, they simply saw the M badge as a status symbol and as some sort of ticket, enabling them to drive as they please on the road, regardless of other cars.
As a result, the M3 garnered much hate on the roads, even if owned by a genuine enthusiast. However, you’ll not find many of these same people driving the new E92 generation M3. This is because, as we are often reminded by a certain car programme on BBC2, cocks now drive Audis.
I blame the R8 supercar (above) for this. Before it came along, Audis were bought by people who wanted a classy German car, but didn’t want the obvious choice of Mercedes or BMW. But then the R8 came along, with its sideblade and LED daytime running lights and all of a sudden Audi became an aspirational brand for undesirable types.
This stereotype is also undeserved though. The R8 is a magnificent car, as was the RS4. The TT-RS is a good car too and the A6 Allroad (above) has a sort of honest charm, which is rare in this luxury segment. Once again, it’s a case of the few ruining it for the many.
So think, what other stereotypes do you often apply to other drivers without actually thinking?