In my last article, I described how deeply romantic U.S. cars are kept in Germany. Romantic, or just stereotypical? That’s exactly what this text is all about.
To make my point, I have to outline how we in Germany look at things in general. Sorry, fellow Deutsche, but let’s be honest: We encounter everything that’s strange or new to us with suspicion and wariness. Now you might think there are things where all Germans would agree on, like Beer, Soccer or meat products. Well... you’d be miles off, because it is the most mundane things that we differ in the most. And part of these commonplace topics is cars.
First things first: It all starts with the fact (!) that each and every German driver is obviously the best driver on the planet and that everybody else is just inferior. You can probably confront any
BMWGerman driver, why he or she didn’t use their turn signals and get an immediate answer on how the maneuver was perfectly adequate in that situation.
To be honest: Our tendency to self-centeredness doesn’t leave enthusiasts aside.
Imagine a cars-and-coffee in some regular German town. At first glance, you can divide it by two. There are the guys with the classic cars and there are the guys with modified tuner cars or exotic sports cars. As you can imagine, both “parties” don’t necessarily share interest in each other, but they all like cars, so why not check out the “other side” - so far, everything is nice and civilized.
It is in the microcosms, where things start to get hairy. Among the classic-car-guys is the ubiquitous section of angled-elbow checkered-cap pipe-smoking British aficionados who despise anything that’s less bloke-ish than an early 70's MGB. They complain about the omnipresence of W107 and W123 Mercedes and G-Model 911's.
Then there are the aircooled Volkswagen-admirers who frequently express their disgust about how something so trivial as a Mk. 1 and 2 Golf could be displayed at a car show.
You have the senior citizens who don’t necessarily drive, but judge unimpaired about what’s good and what not. I’ve seen lumpy old-man-purses placed boldly on the hood of a pristine E21 3-Series, so Grampa Franz has his hands free to form a sunshade whilst looking for some real classics like a Porsche 356 or Mercedes 190 SL, whose owners couldn’t be bothered to show up to our average-joe car meet.
On the tuners and sports car’s side, you’ll find the same thing. Watercooled 911 drivers? Well they crinkle their noses over a riced-out Civic or a heavily tuned street racer. Corvette-drivers? Yeah right... a sports car with leaf springs - dream on. Vice versa, if you arrive in a modern Porsche, you’re automatically a Schnösel – that’s a programatic showoff.
Whether that’s unimpededly true or not, that is at least what the different mindsets think about each other. Those 911-drivers? You can almost hear them meeting up at the country club, telling the plaid-trousered Brit-fans of how quick-wittedly they rebuked their new house maid. You can picture the Corvette-guy bragging in an online forum about his newest stars-and-stripes-and-bald-eagle-cap. You can guess the happy expression of the M-Badgeified four banger E46 BMW driver who just bought the newest example of stick-on fake air intake.
That’s just what you think about the others - when you’re German.
Now I don’t want to complain about my compatriots, and I’m pretty sure that biased opinions like that obviously exist in the U.S. just as well. Americans however tend to see pride behind the target of those prejudices.
While in the U.S., I experienced the kind of Sunday-car-meet-enthusiast that’s so befittingly satirized by Mr. Regular. But other than in Germany, people from every corner of that theoretical cars-and-coffee will be happy to talk about another person’s car and express what they think about it with all due respect. Even if two people’s tastes in cars differ as much as possible, they’ll still patiently go over every detail that the car’s owner takes pride in, with the goal of parting on friendly terms.
Car folks in the U.S. are open minded - or at least pretend to be because that’s the way your Mom told you to do it.
It would be awesome, if my fellow Germans could shed a good part of their resentfulness.
I used a hypothetical scenario for the above lines but to be entirely honest: you have to look hard to find anything that remotely resembles the concept of an American cars-and-coffee. There are car meets around here - many, in fact. But most of them are neatly separated by topic. Almost every party I mentioned before hosts its own public meets, maybe apart from the sports car folks, who’d rather meet in closed environments like on track days, since they don’t like to fall into resentments due to their wealth.
Now comes the good thing: There is a development right now, that appears around every major city in Germany, where U.S. style cars-and-coffees are blossoming, to get rid of that car-classism. So it won’t be long until you see Mustangs spinning out into the German countryside. Yay!
Here are some pictures of the second cars-and-coffee in my own home town in Bavaria. Look at how beautifully mixed it is.
One thing however will be unavoidably connected to every car show on this planet. The white-socks-and-gym-shoe on khaki shorts baby-boomer striding along the rows of cars, who just oozes his own aura of being an expert. It’s the “they-don’t-make-em-like-they-used-to”-guy. It’s the man who asks how many horses live under that C3-Corvette hood and shows honest impression, even though the figure he was told lies below the power output of the front wheel drive crossover that he arrived in.
The one who nods knowingly at any description of stuff he hears. You can probably tell him about how you chose to have the washers and nuts on your fully restored chinese army truck plated to resemble the original ones and you’d gain a reply with cognizant “mmh”s and “yup”s.
Let’s all have a drink on that guy.