The Porsche said I was a rich alpha dog who liked fast cars. The Smart told the world I was secure in my manhood, and that the fate of the Andalusian River Hamster meant more to me than selfish automotive fantasy.
2010 Porsche Panamera
My favourite touch was a button marked Super Sport: When I pressed it, the Panamera dropped lower on its suspension, hunkering down like a rodeo bull preparing to burst out of the chute.
In theory, I liked the Smart car. It costs about one-seventh as much as the Porsche, and consumes a fraction of the resources. The Smart is a vote for a better, more responsible world.
Smart car: A pair of gauges popped out of the dash like the eyes of a cartoon bug.
Smart Car isn't a car. It's small, it's cute, it's a minimal transportation device, Peter Cheney reports.
The Smart had its strengths. I could park it anywhere, and it was brilliant at U-turns. I drove it for three days before the gas gauge budged.
Driving the Smart on the highway was intimidating. And the trunk really sucked. It was a little grotto behind the seats, just big enough to hold my backpack, my wife's purse and a couple of bags of groceries. Taking my son to hockey was out – the bag wouldn't fit.
After so many years in a car that no one notices, the Porsche and the Smart were showing me the power of automotive symbolism – and the price to be paid for it.