Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Car Manufacturers, You Need Me!
My driving odyssey started on a red dirt road in the mountains of North GA in a stripped down Toyota Corolla but quickly translated to negotiating 6 lanes of traffic coming out of down town Atlanta every afternoon in a first generation Hyundai Excel (when they cost $6995 new). I have vast experience negotiating traffic while also handing a sippy cup safely to the back seat to a screaming toddler…while driving a manual transmission. I have great experience in how to haul hay in the backseat of a Cadillac and how to haul lumber out the sunroof of a Pontiac Grand AM GT. I am an expert on how to change the fuses in a 1987 Volvo 240 DL when I forgot that I couldn’t roll both front windows down at the same time without blowing one. I have tied a tail pipe up with telephone wire (hey, it was all I had!) I have been left stranded in a much loved gold Mercedes…in the rain. I know what a clogged fire trap is. I have handled a tire blow out on I85 North in Atlanta during the afternoon drag race in a great little Volvo 850 GLT. I have driven 170,000 miles on the original clutch of a late 87 Pontiac Sunbird SE. I have driven a Chrysler minivan back and forth from Atlanta to New York with 3 kids in tow more times than should be legally allowed. I slid a Z28 with T-Tops sideways just because I could. I know that a pristine Volvo S80 can be struck by lightning – while you are driving it – and no amount of engineering wizardry can save it. I have cleaned crayons, marker and otherwise unknown stains from more car seats than I can count. I proudly added the Over 100,000 miles and Over 200,000 miles medallions to my beloved Volvo 850, which now belongs to and is driven by a dear friend at over 300k. Frequently, you will find me behind the wheel of a GMAC XL Yukon, even if I had to deploy ladders to get in it. I currently have an 18 year old Pontiac Sunbird Convertible in my garage which I still drive from time to time. The piece ‘de resistance, I taught 2 teenagers how to drive and still have one to go!
Right now, my own 2003 Volvo XC90 with 175,000 miles is facing week 6 in the shop and I am currently driving a loaner from Volvo in the form of a 2013 Volvo XC90. I could share a lot with Volvo that they may have missed from their fancy Auto Test Drivers considering my 2003 XC90 is the 4th Volvo I have owned. I could also lend a little perspective to Dodge after the rental car of theirs I drove last week on a trip…it was a good little ride but needs some tweaking in the ergonomics department.
I may not be able to round a test track at 732 miles per hour but I can tell you when your steering wheel is too fat for my hands. I can tell you what makes your car sexy to me…the mom of 3 who likes to relax by riding, sans children, with the radio blasting. I can tell you if your car makes me look frumpy and dumpy. I can tell you what makes me want your car because it makes my life easier and what would make your car part of my family. I can also tell you what will make a difference in which brand I buy next…and what a dealership can do to help sway my choice and keep me coming back regardless of price.
None of this may make me the traditional candidate as an Auto Test Driver, but I know cars. I know what women and families want in cars. I know what a woman wants when she has kids in tow and when she just wants to turn up the radio and forget she is an adult for a while. I know what she needs when she doesn’t know anyone with a truck to help her haul her latest soon to be DIY project home. I know what she needs when she wants to feel a bit pampered behind the wheel. I know what she wants when she just needs to get from point A to B without mortgaging her soul. I have been all of those women at one time or another. Trust me…I know cars.
So, car manufacturers, I can offer you something which you may not be accustom…honesty from the trenches. I await your offers.