April 28, 2016

Horse 2104 - Cool Because It's Not Cool; Which Means It's Cool

The quality of coolness in a motor car is an elusive one. There are cars which should be obviously cool and are, like a Falcon XR8 Ute, Jaguar F-Type, or the Honda Civic Type R. There are also those cars which should be cool and yet aren't, like the BMW 1-Series, Volkswagen Golf R, and the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
Mostly SUVs aren't cool, neither are people movers and minivans but again there are exceptions. Proper Four Wheel Drive cars like like Land Rover Defender, Nissan Patrol, Toyota Land Cruiser 70 are cool, and there are some strange vans like the A-Team's GMC Windstar and the flood of fantasy that is the Mitsubishi Star Wagon Space Gear.
The general rule is that hatchbacks are cool; SUVs, wagons and minivans are uncool, and cars which are trying too hard or those cars which attract real estate agents and people in financial services, aren't cool.

There are five rules for automotive coolness (which may or may not be true at all):
1. A thing is cool if it tries to be cool and succeeds.
2. A thing is not cool if it tries too hard to be cool.
3. Some things are cool if they're not trying to be cool.
4.Some things are simply just not cool.
5. Any or all of these rules can be broken for any reason because coolness is so elusive that it won't be pinned down by rules.

Then there is this.

Alex at my church has a Toyota Corolla Wagon. Toyota? Mostly uncool. Corolla? Uncool. Wagon? Seriously uncool.
This car should by all rights be seriously uncool but it isn't. I think that it does that rarest of things and crosses the line twice and is so uncool that it's actually cool again. Partly it invokes Rule 3 because it isn't trying to be cool but mostly Rule 5 is in operation here.

A Corolla Wagon is never bought because the owner wants to be cool. Someone who deliberately chooses such a vehicle is thinking of the practical considerations of what they intend to do with it above all other concerns. You couldn't very well do a remake of "Bullit" with a Corolla Wagon. You wouldn't have the elusive unstealable "Eleanor" from "Gone In Sixty Seconds" be a Corolla Wagon. If they were making "Fast And Furious 15: Furiously Fishing For A Fiver", then the only way you'd have a Corolla Wagon in it would be if it was a sleeper car, driven by a dorky chap with glasses, pens in his pocket, a pocket calculator and a computer with a weird unexplained device plugged into it.
Not that a Corolla can't be cool. The Corolla Sprinter or the Japanese Domestic Market Trueno, AE86, or Hachiroku, firstly became a cult car because of Touge racing, then was put to work drifting, and then had the manga Initial D written about it. In contrast, Izzy's AE85 which didn't have the 4K motor, was seen as a bit of a lump and Izzy is the dorky comic relief. An WE130 Corolla Wagon has none of this mystique whatsoever and because it is front wheel drive, can't really be drifted either.
Mostly wagons are uncool. Perhaps the only wagons to have pulled off the trick of coolness are the 1932 Ford, which became known as the "Woodie " and the Volvo 850 Estate which was used to such abandon by Kelvin Burt, Jan Lammers and Rickard Rydell in the British Touring Car Championship, that it earned the moniker of "Terror Taxi". Even to this day, it is still one of the most bonkers race cars ever.

The logical fallout from this is to either question my sanity (which I can assure you never existed) or question my reasoning behind why I think that a Corolla Wagon is cool. The reason that Alex's Corolla Wagon is cool is that it definitely, absolutely and certainly is not cool. It makes no attempt to be cool and it doesn't bother to pretend that it's even trying.
This is a car which is exactly what it is. It is an unpretentious, undisguised, unashamedly unremarkable car. This falls into the same category as a tradie's van or ute. Tradie's vans, utes and trucks are cool for that same reason, they quietly go about their business of doing business. This isn't to say that such a vehicle can't be driven spiritedly. People might point to the Bugatti Veyron as the fastest car in the world but we all know that the fastest car in the world is a four year old rental Corolla; closely followed by an unmarked white Toyota Hiace van and a Ford Ranger with the words " Max's Plumbing - 04XX 72 72 90".
The fact that it is red means that it isn't just an appliance which sits on four wheels like a white car does, it isn't anonymous like grey, silver and black cars are, and it isn't ridiculously dorky like those metallic purple, green and pink cars are. Red, green and blue are acceptable because they are different without needing to about it from the rooftops.

I put this to Alex and he asked if the car made him cool or if he made the car cool. Neither - these are unconnected. This is like asking what happens if you put Fonzie's jacket on Richie Cunningham (don't you just love my hideously dated cultural reference?). The jacket doesn't make Richie Cunningham cool - he just becomes a dorky kid in a cool jacket. Neither does removing the jacket from Fonzie make him uncool. Is Alex cool? Yes, and the Corolla Wagon has nothing to do with it.

Am I cool? Not in the slightest. I am like Richie Cunningham.

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