Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Man Vehicles


I’m concerned that if I don’t drive a big honkin’ quad-cab, 8-cylinder, gas-sucking pickup (with a Rhinoceros-proof bed-liner, of course) for my solitary commuter needs that John Mellencamp & Bob Seger are gonna show up at my house, whoop my a**, drink my beer, and prolly steal my wife. Do I have to get a vehicle that’s equipped with a HEMI (although Lord knows, I haven’t got a clue what the hell that is) in order to maintain manliness? In the age of $4 per gallon gas, can a guy do the sensible thing and buy a small car that gets 40 m.p.g. without sacrificing his dudeliness? Can a man drive a hatchback?

Rob O.

Rob O,

Interesting question, Rob O. This wouldn't have been an issue a mere 5 years ago when gas was under 2 bucks a gallon and if your vehicle didn't get gallons per mile rather than miles per gallon you weren't a man. But now that gas requires you to auction your organs on the black market, concessions must be made.

Before I talk about these concessions, let me make one thing clear: just because you drive a huge truck, that doesn't guarantee that you are a man. There are men out there who drive F-350s, striking the Captain Morgan pose while puffing their chest out and filling up their artesian well of a gas tank. Then they go home and cower like a little schoolgirl watching The Exorcist with the bed sheets pulled over their eyes as they check their Myspace account to see if their internet girlfriend wants to chat. So having a huge truck doesn't make you manly by itself. In fact, you don't even have to have a truck to be manly...Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit didn't drive a truck, and there's no question about his awesomeness. So not all manly men have trucks, and not all who have trucks are manly men.

What guidelines, then, can we come up with for a man who wants to drive around while still being awesome and majestic? I have some thoughts. First, if you are driving around in a muscle car, it doesn't matter how much gas it drinks, you are badical. There is absolutely nothing wuss about ripping up the streets in a '69 Mustang, for instance, even if it consumes more gas in a minute than China does in a month. Not all sports cars are awesome...some, like a Miata for instance, don't say "manly," they say "tool box." But muscle cars, pretty cool.

Next, let's look at a couple of vehicles that are forbidden. You asked about hatchbacks...yeah, you can drive around in one, provided that when you push a button the hatch pops up and it drops oil or nails on the road. Translation, James Bond is allowed to drive hatchbacks. If the Queen of England hasn't bestowed upon you a license to kill, then you are out of luck. Also unacceptable are sardine cans on wheels. We're talking anything that runs off a weedeater engine that you have to be a gymnast in order to squeeze in to. A man cannot compress into any "GEO" model and consider himself manly. Imagine you and your boys rolling up to the tobacco outlet trying to buy cigars and piling out of a GEO like circus clowns. People will laugh at you, and deservedly so. You want to be more like "Machine Gun" Joe Viterbo from Death Race 2000, not that little dude who used to drive around Herbie the Love Bug.

Speaking of, that's another car that's off limits. VW Beetles are shaped like feminine products, which pretty much invalidates them right off the bat. And they have a vase on the dashboard for you to put flowers in. Umm, negator. The only plant life that should be in your car is a pine-scented air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. Maybe multiple pine trees if you are prone to sweating, but no botanical gardens. Another off limits vehicle: minivans, like the Astro (or as I call them, "Estro", as in estrogen, get it?). There is a reason these things are so big...not just to haul around children, but also soccer gear, groceries, and all of the bloating and emotionalness that come to their drivers every 4 weeks. Basically I can see three reasons for driving a van. One, it's your wife's primary vehicle, but you are driving it on a vacation to the mountains where your children will watch you wrestle and subdue a grizzly bear. Two, you are a member of the A Team. Three, terrorists have kidnapped your daughter, and in going after them, you need a vehicle big enough to hold all of your rocket launchers. In that case, be sure to get a van that let's you take out the seats, because you can hold more ammo that way. I know from experience.

So what can you drive? Anything else I guess...normally I would rule out things like boring sedans and vehicles that don't have built-in gun turrets, but these are expensive times, so economics wins out. I do know of one way to both save gas and also still get to ride around in your gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. I recently read about hypermiling, which is the practice of altering your driving techniques in order to maximize fuel economy. I tried it in my truck, and got an mpg increase of 20%. Granted, that was from 18 mpg to a little over 21 mpg, but still, not too bad. All you have to do is accelerate and decelerate slower, turn the truck off if you are idling at a stop light longer than 10 seconds, use your cruise control more, stuff like that. For more info on this practice, click here. I don't recommend the more dangerous things like tailgating 18 wheelers, but I tried the simple to do stuff, and it does help.

One last thing. Dr. Awesome isn't really sure about all of this man-made global warming stuff. I'm sure the world is getting hotter, but I think it probably has more to do with fluctuations in that massive out of control nuclear flame ball we call the sun than it does soccer moms driving SUVs too much. Even so, I think it is a good idea to conserve as much as you can within reason. Leaving the world all crapified for your descendants is not a manly thing to do. I'm not saying you should go all hippie or anything, but being a good steward of the environment is pretty manly. Whatever that looks like for you, do what you can to save money and save the baby whales and all that.

So Rob O, you are free to drive around in a sensible Honda Accord or similar and still respect yourself. Of course if you were really manly and really concerned with saving money and the environment, you'd get a donkey mule and ride it around town. Nothing is more manly than harnessing a beast of burden. That's what I'm going to do if gas hits $5/gallon.

Dr. Awesome.


Steve Guy June 19, 2008 at 10:49 PM  

Another manly thing to do is to drive a honda or other gas-sippin' sedan to work everyday while keeping a badical truck in your garage at home, ready to tackle any obstacles that you may need outside of your normal commute to work. $4/gallon gas doesn't mean you can't have a truck; it just means you can't drive it everyday and still afford ammo for the tourret mounted in the bed.

Dr. Thayer June 24, 2008 at 5:48 PM  

You forgot the ever manly motorcycle. beastly loud pipes, huge power to weight ratio, insane acceleration, and 40-60 MPG. Plus the ladies love a man on a bike!

Rob June 24, 2008 at 9:26 PM  

Okay, okay, so I'm not feeling so bad about my Honda Element - a.k.a. Darth Vader's toaster - even though it only has a 4-banger engine.

I kinda figure anything with a feature called "suicide doors" has got to have at least a twinge of manliness to it. Plus, it looks like it oughta have a gun turrent coming out of the top.

Dustin Boston July 9, 2008 at 8:56 AM  

Dr. Thayer beat me to it. The motorcycle is pretty much the most efficient and most manly vehicle there is. So manly, in fact, that you could care less about its efficiency. It's pretty much a no-brainer.

Nglatt July 11, 2008 at 7:53 AM  

Not every GEO model is terrible...the tracker is a definitely an exception. Sure, small little engine, but with a 4x4 drive and small enough to avoid trees while sliding down iced mud on snowmobile trails, it certainly works.

John May 15, 2009 at 8:53 AM  

Dr Awesome.... I'm a relatively new reader and going through some of your solid badical advice, I'm a little concerned here. I agree it doesn't take the manliest of all trucks to qualify - but the weakness lies in some logic you may have inadvertently been led to use by the enviro-hippy scare tactics and gas spiking prices that stab at our home made wallets cut from the hides of animals we have hunted for sport and subsequently consumed. As you and a couple readers point out, there are several obvious acceptable options, trucks, muscle cars, motorcycles and certain mainstream cars. Say a Dodge Magnum, for example, HEMI motor with variable cylinder control that allows for better fuel milage when driven moderately if not pursuing some fleeing criminal or other acts of good deeds. 4 door sedan, machismo under the hood. My issue lies with your comment of compromising manliness as a result of economics. Did you really mean that, or was one of your loved ones being held by hostiles until they saw that text? A man should compromise his manliness and drive a schmuckly sedan over a few bucks in fuel? I know it can be expensive, but there are options with 250+hp (like Magnum, SS Impala, turbo or supercharged models,etc) as opposed to being neutered in some lame low horsepower vehicle designed for androgenous, sissiefied types. Maybe having one secondary to your 4x4 Jeep or crew cab truck is possibly acceptable if you display your NRA decal or similar clarifications... Please clarify.

Chris November 21, 2009 at 4:20 PM  

motorbikes are a manly mans ride... i ride my 1125CR with an FMF exhaust system everywhere, in summer its my main method of dudical transportation. in the winter i am opting to stud my tires, ive seen someone on the internet do it to their 1125CR somewhere in sweden...

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