It would appear that I missed the generation of people who desire owning a Porsche. So commonplace is this dream that it can be thrown around in conversation and arguments at a distance from reality. It also acts as a cultural marker or aspirational brand that is difficult, but not impossible, to achieve. With Fords being too common and Ferraris being outlandish a Porsche sits on that fence between pipe dream and a target.
One point to address is why would anyone want a Porsche and the other for those who do want one and cant have one how do you manage this constant desire?
Speaking generally car manufactures have an unknown future. Firstly with the advent of the electrical motor spearing into the car industry and secondly the millennial generation seeming to be disinterested and repulsed by cars. The manufactures are relying on a generation of people to buy their cars and they may not even bother.
With Ubers, bicycles and affordable, practical, safe and solid cars being more of a commodity than a hobby, interest or aspiration car manufactories need to respond to this population of people differently. Whereas fifteen years ago you mentioned at a party that you were hoping to buy a Porsche people around you may be impressed and buddy up to you. Validating some illusion of self worth based on what you own (or could own) made you feel warm inside. Now however the opposite is likely to happen and someone may even attack you.
It is apparent that cars are becoming more of a burden than a dream. Perception is that they are clogging up roads, polluting the atmosphere and hella expensive. More of a chore than a pleasure to own why make it harder on yourself to park, commit to spending more to keeping it on the road and being worse off with a less practical vehicle to live with day to day. ‘Average’ cars are already achieving much of the above so why make it worse?
Owning a car that is focused for a track day opposed to the school run may seem like a good idea but will just become a nuisance. Not wanting a £65,000 car takes a lot of stress out of your life. You do not need that promotion, loan or bulk of cash just to validate your own self worth. A friend of mine just swapped out a BMW for Ford saving him £250 a month. We were talking about this move before me made it. The only things stopping him from swapping was all about own self worth and imagine. Once he realised that actually no-one was looking at him in his car (because no-one cares) and he has a loving family at home who could not care less about what car he drove he chopped it in. He found that the reason for having the BMW was ego mixed with unfounded perception. The Ford was just a practical decision that has simplified his life and saved him some cash and he does not miss the BMW. But what if you really do need/want that car? Especially for those fleeting sunny Sunday drives.
As is easy to tell I am speaking very generally. I am writing my perception of the current market of the car industry. Of course there are people in this world that one day would love to own a Porsche. A desirable product and affirmation that you are someone is a tempting offer. But you are in a middle manger job earning £25,000 – £40,000 a year, you have a family, bills and responsibilities which mean you COULD afford it; on paper at least. But could you pay at least +£300 a month (think tyres, fuel, insurance, depreciation, service, tax, mot, speeding fines, everything) putting yourself in a finically difficult situation just for the sake of owning the car? You have put your neck out on the line and tie yourself down a little tighter.
I consider any vehicle advertising that promotes and markets freedom as part of the pleasure for the perspective owner sceptically. How are you going to fund this trip, car, holiday? Likely by working more, working harder continually going up the ladder. In this case it may be that the end does not justify the means or when you get to the end it is not what you bargained for. Ultimately that freedom they are selling comes at a cost of less freedom.
This can sound negative but when premium products are sold as attainable (finance options) to a large breath of people it can have negative effects. Going into debit for a cause is one thing but more and more people are unhappy in their jobs, careers and lives and therefore pining yourself down to more monthly payments can only tighten the noose. Giving you more cause to not take risks, develop new skills or chase dreams. If a Porsche is your dream and you are sure it will actually be worth it the blood sweat and tears and give you intrinsic worth and satisfaction then go for it. However if you want it as a show piece or feel that NEED it then turn away.
Looking at the advertising for Porsche there are clearly aware that they have to sell beyond a practical scope and to your inner child. Your quest for fulfillment and excellence over others. They give you confidence that you can achieve which is energising. But the notion that a car can do this for you is concerning.
By what measure will the vehicle enhance your life? Maybe questions you are asking yourself before you put down the cash are; If I had this then I could do this… It would be amazing to go there… and when the sun is out I could do that… These are relevant scenarios but there is a possibility that a dichotomy would manifest between the expectation you have for what you desire and the reality of what you get.
The only source of comfort that I can offer is my own experience. Frankly the Porsche in your head is very different to the one on the road. They are not as good as you are believed to think they are. Other road users, traffic and weather will likely hinder the excellent driving experience that Porsche are so proud of. Remembering that you do not need it to validate yourself and the experiences Porsche sell can be overshadowed by endless service costs, hidden fees and anxiety when leaving the vehicle unattended in a public car park. Even on the slick advents you will see the small print ‘driving on closed roads’ because that is the only place you will have to explore the vehicle and the likely hood of that happening is small.
This observation was nailed home for me when I was offered to have a ride in a Rolls Royce. My dad loves cars and my childhood was spent hearing about various versions of Rolls Royce, the linage, the quality and the prowess of the cars; ultimate luxury and the pinnacle of automotive design. I was apprehensive about going for a drive because I knew that I would never be able to own one. Even if I came close to the salary I know I could not drop a quarter of a million on a car. Would I spend the rest of my life un-fulfilled having been given a taste of what I could have and yet never have?
So I stepped in.
The leather was welcoming, the roof was lit up beautifully, and the leviathan nature of the car was not lost on me. The driver (had the car on a loan) pointed out that part of the dash was made of the same material as stealth fighter jets, the v12 engine roared into life as my adrenaline spiked. I was 10 again in the push of that ignition button. It was overwhelming and I was reconsidering that £300,000 price tag. Then he started to drive.
I am so glad he did because as we shot down the road there was a tremendous realisation that none of it mattered. It was a car. It felt like a car, acted like a car and simply was underwhelming. I could have been in any new rear wheel drive car and not noticed the difference as the driver put his foot down and the car squatted in response. Where the leather came from, the thickness of the glass, the material of the dash, the prestige and lineage was noticeably superfluous and frankly; stupid. This is what they hook you on and it is all snake oil. If this is the pinnacle of automotive excellence then I am happy knowing that my ten year old Honda is not far off.
I got out of that car loathing its existence. We went for a short drive and not being able to get down country roads without stopping for other cars every 300 yards, not being able to park in a normal space, the headlights blinding other drivers, the weight of the thing all culminated into frustration. The driver did his duty and showed me the umbrella in the door and I almost vomited. It was all too much. Too excessive and not at all practical for everyday use and for those reasons I loved it.
As the Rolls Royce came away from the poster on my wall and sat in front of me in reality I took a sigh of relief. It turned out that Rolls Royce’s in my head were fantastic and in reality I loathed them. What a relief! I do not have to re-mortgage the house for a car. I do not need this car to validate me. In fact, I would feel worse as a person with the car. This car would not add to my life but just take away time effort and money that I could not spare.
This experience demonstrated to me the importance to be able to differentiate between you dreams and your reality. For me a rule of thumb now is anything beyond a practical tangible product I approach carefully. Products in general are unlikely to solve my problems and I am learning ‘IT’ will never be enough. I remember buying games consoles when I was younger always wanting the next best thing but the hole was never filled which is fine when you are spending hundreds and earning thousands. But when you are buying something that costs in excess of your yearly salary it can become a nightmare when you find out it is not want you wanted.
Lastly, I just want to stress that these musings are an attempt for me to overcome my own desire for vehicles that I cannot own. The feeling of not being abel to get something you dream after I have experienced as deflating. This is what I try to believe is true whenever BMW or KTM release a new tech laden globetrotting motorcycle. It is a constant battle that I am slowly loosing. I look forward to getting something that is impractical, expensive and not fit for purpose and is likely to be a huge mistake. One day…..