Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I motor to work... I do not drive or commute.

I am often explaining myself and my love affair with my car.  Unlike the horsepower muscle head guys, or those euro tuned Bimmer/Benz/Audi/V-dub dudes, or even the Evo/WRX/potato cannon rice rocket roadies, it is about motoring.  I have pulled this off of a fellow enthusiasts blog.

In the MINI community, the word ‘motor’ is used a great deal, but never in the same way it is used outside the MINI community. To most people, the word motor is used as a noun to define some sort of engine. To MINI owners, however, it means something entirely different. MINI owners use the word motor as a verb. When most people drive places, MINI’s owners (commonly known as motorers) motor. You go driving, they go motoring. It’s important to note that driving is not simply motoring and vice versa. Driving is getting from point A to point B. It is about the destination. You drive to the store. You drive to work. Motoring is about what’s in between A and B. It is about the journey. Motorers motor to the store. They motor to work.
Now that’s not to say that motorers never drive. Sometime you just need to get to a destination. For example, over the holiday weekend, I needed to get to the airport. It was about a three hour trip and because of time constraints, I needed to travel on I-95 (NOTE: I never drive on I-95 unless time is an issue). It was during this stretch that I had a bit of an epiphany. I’ve never driven on I-95 and enjoyed it, but this day was different. I wasn’t motoring (because the trip was mostly about the destination and by definition, that’s driving), but I was still enjoying it.
So, I set about to determine what was different. Everywhere I looked, people were angry. Everybody drives angrily anymore. How does this happen? And why am I immune (at least for the most part…my wife will argue that I’m not)? I think at least a portion of the answer lies deep within the creative minds behind particular automobile manufacturers. Take MINI for instance. It’s clear after spending a few minutes in a MINI that anyone who drives it can’t help but have fun. The feature that seems to entertain most passengers is the mood lighting. It’s basically a series of LED lights (activated by the headlights) strategically placed throughout the interior of the car that are designed to reflect off various surfaces giving the entire cabin a glow. It can be adjusted to illuminate in 6 different colors ranging from red to blue. This feature comes standard. MINI’s also come with a secret compartment that truly requires discovery from others who have found it. This feature is standard. To put a real thrill in driving, MINI also included a start button. It sounds small, but pressing a button to start a car is much more of a thrill than turning a key. This feature is standard. The convertible MINI’s come with a gauge that displays the percentage of time that the top is down on the car. This feature is standard.
The point is, that MINI has taken into consideration that for most people driving is a chore. So they’ve countered that attitude with more ways to make driving (or motoring) fun with (the key factor) standard features. My question is why haven’t other automobile manufacturers caught on and why don’t more people drive cars they really like? Is it so hard to take the time to make minor and inexpensive adjustments to put the joy back in driving? The brilliance comes in the fact that the features I outlined above are standard equipment. Which means you can buy a used MINI with no bells and whistles and still get the same nifty features. Again, I ask why more manufacturers haven’t caught on to this. Maybe once they do, more people will start waving with all five fingers instead of just one.

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