Money aside. Let’s assume, for a second, that Malaysia hasn’t been screwed up by corrupted politicians. There’s no such thing as AP, which is essentially a RM20,000 paper. Proton and Perodua never existed. So, there’s no 300% duty to protect the local market for the Mitsubishi and Daihatsu rebrands. All the duit kopi, duit jet engine and duit submarine never happened, and all money went back to the rakyat, spent wisely building the nation. As a result, Petrol is still RM1 per liter. Jeremy Clarkson is our Prime Minister.
In such an ideal world, we’ll have a little more money to spare. My theory is, if every man can own 2 cars, there will be world peace. Now you know the real meaning of the peace gesure.
First of all, one car just isn’t enough. Makers of cars have been trying to sell you the idea of do-it-all cars. Perodua tries to say "Car One Moment. MPV the Next" for its Alza. The only people I’ve known to fit that profile are Dr. Jekyll and Batman’s villain Two-Face. Both of them aren’t very attractive, to say the least. (Nevertheless, isn’t MPV a car too?) Toyota Caldina is a Sports MPV. That’s like a grand attempt at making a Fun Lorry. The end result probably doesn’t do very good at either end of the spectrum. Honda Malaysia is calling its Stream a "7-day Coupe" without blinking. How bold. I guess the original version of the tagline was "7-door Coupe", but that was just a little too blatant.
Don’t get me wrong. All of the above cars are good cars. They probably sell way more in quantity than any Porsche, precisely because they are good compromise. Life is compromise. When financials and garage space are both limited, people compromise. And we want to believe that we are getting the best compromise we can get. We buy into the marketing spin — such as the 7-door Stream is a Coupe 7 day long.
If it sounds like I look at compromises from a pessimistic perspective, that’s not true. Nobody has unlimited resources. It is economically efficient to create one car serving multiple purposes. Designers and engineers are motivated to innovate on how to really "do-it-all" with just one car. There are better examples of compromises. The Subaru STi version 10 is my favorite. You get all the convenience of a hatchback. You get the performance of a 300hp 250km/h 4-wheel drive monster. The stock ride is just soft enough for your mother-in-law. The price in Malaysia is (almost) reasonable. There’s also the Mitsubishi Evolution 10 and Golf R32. Even the BMW M5, I consider it a compromise — 3 seats and 2 doors too many. But it’s a marvelous compromise. You can take it to work, fetching serious people around. You can also drive it for serious fun. And everybody takes you seriously when he or she recognizes that the M badge is not fake.
Why own 2 cars then, if we can have an "ultimate compromise" car like the M5? Because, compromise is compromise. You can’t get more of A without sacrificing B. For example, for all the luxuries you get in an M5, the car has to put on weight. For all its practicality, the M5 will never look as cool as a Ferrari, even though it might actually perform better. A compromise car may have a lot of everything, but never totally satisfies in any one aspect.
So in an ideal Malaysia, the best combination of cars a man can own would be a "compromise car", plus a pure car. A pure car serves essentially one purpose — to make you smile. A monumental example is the Lotus Elise. It’s engineered to deliver pure driving fun, but you won’t find any place to store your smart tag. The only luxury items onboard are the air-con and power window. In other words, you can play with this car, and it’s guaranteed to make you smile when you drive it on a Sunday, but you probably can’t live with it day-to-day.
Only you know what makes you smile. Some people like the giant Hummer and defiant-looking BMW X6. Some like cute Smart cars and Minis. Some like classics. The idea is that you have a great "compromise car" that works for you, and a pure car that you can play with. The beauty of the combo is, whenever you drive one car, you’d appreciate the merits of the other even more. For instance, let’s say I have a Smart Roadster and a Subaru STi. Whenever I drive the Smart Roadster, I’d miss the massive power and traction that the STi offers. But in the STi, on the other hand, I’d appreciate the open-top experience, fuel economy and nimbleness of the Smart. Another example combination, Mini and BMW M3. When I get tired of reigning in the beastly power of the M3 on crowded Malaysian highways, I hop into the funky, easy-to-drive Mini. Then, in the Mini, I begin to appreciate the overtaking power of M3 even more.
It is a cycle. Both cars are perceived to become better and better. You’ll never want to change them or need a third car, saving money in the long run, and so you will become richer. Every morning when you wake up, the thought that occupies your mind is: which car should I bring today? You no longer bother about which country to invade. You’re content. Life is so good. Even if you have an insatiable appetite for world domination, you will have no soldiers to fight for you. They are too pre-occupied smiling gaily in their fun roadsters and roaring 4WDs.
For world peace, every man should own 2 cars. Read that again. Substitute "cars" with any other nouns that come to mind. Similar logics apply.