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10 January 2011

Today, Tomorrow, Toyota...?

- not for me!

Written early January 2011 - (323 lines)

*

NOTE:
With apologies to Toyota Motor Corporation for using their slogan.
A record 20 million cars were recalled during 2010 and although Toyota
was by far the worst offender with a staggering 35 percent of the total,
so justifying the naming-and-shaming in the title, this poem is not about
criticising one particular manufacturer but about pointing out that all new
cars are far too complicated and above all rely on electronics to the extent
that any new car is inherently life-threatening in a way which was never
the case before - a situation which is simply absurd.
But easily rectified: ban sophisticated electronics in all motor vehicles.

As a wise man once said (one of the prophets maybe?):
"Perfection is reached when there is nothing left to remove".
Ameen!

*

For me a proper motor
Is not a new Toyota
My wish list starts and ends
With an old Mercedes-Benz

*

I am firing on all twelve cylinders today
So would like to get a few words in, if I may:

Now I have been interested in cars since a boy
And as I grew older they changed from toy
To clever machinery for many different jobs
Happily accepting that your own motor robs
You of time and space but money most of all
For the car was king and I became a thrall

They come in all shapes and sizes today
In amazing variety, so long as you can pay
The choice is vast and currently spans
From tractors and trucks and buses and vans
To sedate sedans, also known as saloons
For ordinary people, while for the tycoons
There are magic machines to drive without guilt
Of space age design and exquisitely built
Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce
But if you are in search of adrenalin and noise
And the smell of burning rubber, head for the race track
After just a few laps there is no way back
From go-carts and all the way to Formula One
It seems that today nothing useful can be done
Without a vehicle with at least four wheels
And after a full century it still appeals
To the man in the boy and the boy in the man
Like nothing else, except for maybe women, can

And so to what really prompted me to write
About the motor car, for it has come to light
That reported problems are bigger than we thought
Pity the poor customer who borrowed and bought
We knew there was room for improvement but when
The figures were released for twenty-ten
Worldwide twenty million cars recalled
My reaction was: disgusted, shocked, appalled

It is not nostalgia for the past
But cars used to be made both to last
And to function as designed and advertised
In my opinion we would all be well advised
To seek out the old ones and drive them again:

The British Morris Minor is a classic specimen
Remember the Traveller, the "half-timbered" estate?
It was said the rear end would soon disintegrate
If all the woodworms stopped holding hands...
A joke maybe by those driving other brands?

And compared with any current high-tech flop
The Volkswagen Beetle surely comes out on top
For integrity, utility, reliability
It was pure German dependability

Recently an insider told me secretly
That Ford stands for: Fix Or Repair DAILY!
But that is only nowadays, so you see
Rather a nineteen-twenty-seven Model T

But do as you please and the best of luck to you
Personally I would NEVER again buy new!

The fact something is possible surely cannot mean
That it MUST become part of every driving machine
But the glossy tempting brochures leave you in no doubt
You must take the package as it is, or leave it out
Look in detail at the pages as you browse
It is all about techno-gadgets fit for Mickey Mouse
But I want to know about the engine and what makes
It better than others, and of course about the brakes
As for data for gearbox and the whole drive train
You would almost certainly look and ask in vain

I entered a showroom and some slick young chap
Like any politician, started talking useless crap
Of course it is all part of his trade
Doing his best to persuade:

"Today you could not possibly do with less
Than electric windows, central locking, GPS
De-icing mirrors, and they lower just for YOU
When engaging reverse so you can see what you do
Look, they fold themselves in or out as you switch
The engine off or on, without a glitch

For in-car entertainment all I need to say
This model will absolutely blow you away
The surround sound system will force you to yell
For peak performance now is two hundred decibel!
Enjoy! Have fun! You are alive!
Media hub with wi-fi and hard disk drive
Interactive voice control, Blu-Ray and MP3
Wait for this: it even has a small HD TV!

The Star Safety System features TRAC and VSC
Plus ABS and BA and even EBD!

(Excuse me yawning so soon but you see
The only abbreviation which makes any sense to me
In connection with cars is in all honesty
The simple basic one known to most as: MB)

You see those LEDs there, one-two-three-four?
Another safety feature: tyre pressure monitor!

This very latest model can be driven by the blind
In fact, to tell the truth, you could leave your brain behind
And get on with important business of whatever kind -
Just press RESTORE in case you lose your mind
Your car will then retrace the route: go > look > find >

This fantastic car will undoubtedly meet
All your demands, and if you buy a fleet
We will give you a generous discount and strike
An amazing deal - now, how many would you like?"

He handed me the key for a proper road test
And as we drove around he went on about the rest:
Lane-guiding system and for traffic jams ahead
The navigator picks a less congested route instead
Your car will remind you in a synthetic voice
Which way to turn, or to make some other choice
Suspension that adjusts according to the load
Buzzers for radar-traps and ice on the road
And, the clincher, in case you fall asleep
CCTV will rouse you with a piercing beep
Ten warning lights here and six more sensors there
Push-buttons almost everywhere
Best of all and true to form
A seat that keeps the driver's bottom warm -
The modern car is like an astronaut's dome
Yet so easy to drive it is like sitting at home
The screens may be smaller but one thing is clear
You are active at home but do next to nothing here

Looking to learn my eager eyes found
Passive safety features all around
Including six airbags which could conceivably
Get triggered by something accidentally
Imagine if one should suddenly blow
When travelling at speed - your car would go
Somersaulting helplessly out of control
When saving your life was its intended role...
It may never happen if properly maintained
But speaking for myself, being tightly restrained
By a seat belt anchored securely in steel
Not only gives me safety that I know is real
But I can see it and check it every day
While the airbag is sealed and out of the way
Hopefully to spring into action only when
It already is far too late to count to ten...

The freedom of the road is yours - near or far?
Should your car break down, no matter where you are
Your GPS position is automatically sent
Telling rescue services exactly where you went

Setting off and settling down, reality is soon
A world away from your insulated cocoon
Robbed of initiative and pro-active reasoning
The passive recipient of data cannot bring
Much useful input, so will likely abdicate
His own responsibility and leave it all to fate...

As the road winds and twists, rises and dips
And most things directed by a few fingertips
Effortlessly managing the high-tech road show
Respect for the laws of physics sink low
For in charge of forces that are truly immense
You are lulled into a completely false sense
Of security by these so-called safety-aids
Till your feeling of vulnerability fades
Beyond the naturally healthy and cautious
To the point where you become dangerous
In the firm belief that you can drive
Any way you want and still survive

Self-explanatory, so no need to explain:
True safety comes ONLY from the driver's brain

Frequently we hear some well-meaning clown
Lecturing us all that we must slow down
But speed is undeniably a terrific thrill
And harmless in itself for speed does not kill
It is only when it must very quickly drop
Also known as - coming to a dead stop...

Someone who likes driving is much more alert
And alone for that reason far less likely to get hurt
Than all the ones who drive absentmindedly
Talking on the cellphone incessantly
(One strike and you are out, if you ask me!)
Or going reluctantly from A to bloody B
Only driving because they think they must -
Road safety would improve if they parked their cars to rust!

Integrated electronics everywhere
And THAT is the main problem new cars share
You may not find it in the manual
But twenty microprocessors is not unusual
And all may work perfectly in a solitary state
However, problems may arise when they communicate
With each other, exchanging data and so on
For testing every possible logic path cannot be done
Before the new product is proudly released
And the managing director looks relaxed and pleased
But once the car is bought and actually used
Some customers may not exactly be amused

As the use of microchips in cars has grown
The following should be much better known:
Chips for defence systems are shielded well
From any radiation between heaven and hell
And we can therefore reasonably expect
The casing will do its job and protect
The vital data so it is not changed
Or in any conceivable way re-arranged
For that might yield catastrophic results -
Rockets and missiles are not harmless catapults

But chips for cars are not shielded like that yet
And some experts are now ready to bet
That some of the weird behaviours we see
Are caused in all probability
By cosmic rays passing through the chips
Causing unpredictable data flips
Which might account for the otherwise
Inexplicable phenomena which now arise
In an impressive variety
With alarming regularity

Call me reactionary but with a sigh
My only comment is: "What a silly way to die..."

In the past the few circuits were stand-alone
But today's motor car has become a clone
Of a future spaceship prepared for the stars
When all we need on Earth are safe reliable cars

To streamline production and reduce unit cost
The old flexibility has been lost
In principle there is nothing wrong with it
But when the manufacturer decides to fit
Everything to all the cars in the model range
Without the consumer being able to change
The specification, then it MUST work
As advertised without ANY dangerous quirk

And we are not talking about cosmetics here
For most of the recalls made during last year
Were gas pedals, braking systems, engines that would stall
And NOT the mechanical components but some of all
The computerised management systems for those parts -
The only truly safe new car is one which never starts!

But this one started so it cannot be safe
So why continue to sit here and chafe?
No use more of the slick sales talk
Where is my rucksack, it is safer to walk!
Increasingly gripped by serious doubt
Stop this test car - I WANT TO GET OUT!

*

Now, if you want a proper motor car
Just follow the famous three-pointed star
For an old Mercedes two-forty D
Will go on forever, as you can see
With your very own eyes everywhere
In any poor country, for taxi drivers swear
By used ones imported from Germany
To feed themselves and the family

Often authorised to carry six
PLUS the driver it is a friendly mix
Four on the rear seat but what about the front?
It is not unusual to hear a muffled grunt
On the trip down the highway or just around the blocks
For the one in the middle sits on the gearbox...

If you need a minibus or are looking for a van
One of the following may be your best plan
A two-o-seven, two-o-nine or a three-ten
Will do the job safely again and again

A regular oil change is its special treat
Remember, and the engine will never miss a beat
Leave it for a year and it will instantly start
Pumping life back into its big strong heart
Any technical problem, though unlikely, give a shout
The local mechanics know them inside out
And in the rare event you should suddenly need
Original spare parts, they are indeed
Not only cheap but easy to get -
Overall, statistically it must be safe to bet
No matter how much more driving YOU can do
Your trusty old MB will outlast you!
Built with skill and pride to stand any test
Including that of time, they are simply the best!

But why not go one better and get a light truck
It is still sometimes possible to find, with luck
A four-o-seven, five-o-eight or six-o-nine
Any one of those would be absolutely fine
Though the four-o-seven is very VERY lame
So if you miss the ferry you know who to blame
But then again, just change the accepted text:
You will not really be late - just very early for the next

Which is the best is a matter for debate
My personal favourite is the five-o-eight
Medium wheelbase and the engine must be
The three-point-eight litre OM-three-one-four-V
Revered throughout the motor industry
For indestructible reliability

All are rear-wheel drive and because they are twins
They make a lot of contact so traction always wins
First gear pulls like a tank and is so low
You normally move off in second when you go

Should you happen not to be a mouse but a man
Get one without power steering if you can
It is not for the weak but has lots of feel
So you know that the road you travel on is real

Maximum speed, I have to tell you now
Would not exactly make Michael Schumacher go: "Wow!"
On a windless day and on a level road
In top (or fifth) gear with a moderate load
Flat out using all eighty-six horsepower
One hundred and twelve kilometres an hour...

But day in day out and year after year
It will stop when you brake and head where you steer
Exploring the mountains or chugging town to town
It is most unlikely to ever let you down
No silly electronics so not much go wrong
Sturdy and rugged and incredibly strong
It will save you embarrassment and dangerous ordeals -
What more could you want from transport on wheels?

Yes, I know, it is not very clean
The exhaust fumes can both be smelt and seen
On the Euro-scale neither four nor three nor two
Probably minus one-point-five - but what to do?

And yes, to be honest, it is a thirsty beast
But surely a drink of pure Diesel is the least
You can offer your willing workhorse made of steel
And anyway, without it, it would never turn a wheel

And yes, I must admit, it makes a lot of noise
But see it as one of the additional joys
The healthy roaring engine from a maker of renown
As those four big pistons go up and down

All in all the closest to the perfect motor then
Scoring in my opinion a rare ten out of ten
Whatever your needs, regardless of your trade
Quite likely the most honest motor vehicle yet made

Should you know of an almost unused five-o-eight
For sale anywhere, tell me now, do not wait
I will buy it right away on the telephone for cash
And then rush off to collect it in a flash

You all buy what you want - but for me
A no-nonsense good old safe reliable MB!

*

Copyright © 2011 - IBRAHEEM (O.E.H.Johansen) - All Rights Reserved

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