[V8] Ugliness

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at adelphia.net
Sat Oct 7 08:53:49 EDT 2006

I was in Portland last week and stopped at the Audi dealer to see a salesman
there whom I have known for almost twenty years.  He's been there a long
time, and his office is in the front of the new, highly glassed showroom
right near the front door.  The wall in back of Bob's desk is covered with
certificates and other framed awards from Porsche, Volkswage, Mazda and the
finance arms of just about everyone on this side of the Mississippi River
and the Atlantic Ocean.  Bob's a very, very good car salesman.

Anyway, I really stopped to ask the service department a question about
their history servicing the Volkswagen W8.  Bob and I walked to the service
area which is in the old Portland Tennis Club building across the street.
Funny going in there because that is the building that I tore my Achilles
tendon in playing in an adult tennis league twenty years ago, and now they
memorialize my athletic pain by changing oil in Turbo Cayennes on the very

After learning that there was nothing to report about the W8 VW...didn't
sell many, and none had developed any particular problems...Bob and I walked
back to his showroom desk and chatted about cars a bit, and then about
sailing which is his true passion.

I told him that I was looking around now for the next car that I would own
when The Black Mariah had to go to Audi Heaven.  I told him that nothing was
really interesting, and asked him to make a not in his prospect file to call
me if a stray '91 200 Turbo Avant came in to be traded on a new Audi

I said that I would love to have an S6 but the suspension was lowered on
that car, and where I tend to drive it just won't work.  He asked about an
allroad, and I said that I wondered how all that magic air suspension stuff
would hold up after, say sixty thousand miles.  He laughed and said that
they had had a couple come in to the dealership that were listing strangely
the next morning.  

He suggested that the A6 was a very nice car, and surprised me by telling me
that an A6 can be had with air suspension for a relatively small
premium...$2500.  Not bad, actually.  Near SUV offroad clearance in a car
that will be highly civilized on Maine's few really good roads.

Then he pointed out the glass wall beside his chair at the lot where
crouched three Q7's, looked at me and shrugged.  I must have scowled because
Bob said:  "Oh, I know.  They really are VERY ugly!"  

Now, I have thought about that comment a lot.  Because the big Q7 is a
strange beast...and sooo terribly ugly, to boot.  If you haven't read Jeremy
Clarkson's review of the Q7, you should.  He got it right.

Now, I note this morning that I saw a picture on Autoweek of a new Dodge
something or other that looks just like the Japanese breadboxes that some
people buy, mistaking them for motorvehicles.  Another ugly tour de force.

Suddenly, automotive design makes perfect sense to me.  Since there is
little chance of producing cars that will really be efficient, safe, fast or
for that matter, GOOD, the car makers are rushing to see who can build the
ugliest car and then sell them.

Right now, I think the ugly pill award still goes to the bangle-butted
Beemers, but Audi has closed the gap a lot with the Q7.  Unless the award
should go to whomever can design the best breadbox on wheels.

I still like the looks of the 200 Avant....no bread boxes for me!


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